The Science Birthday Party

Just right for a young, introverted scientist and a few friends.

This party was nothing over-the-top, but it sure was fun! We had a student couple from my husband’s university class come and visit as well and they had a blast. So, these ideas are fun for all ages.

My son and I chose three experiments/activities to do. There was also a mushroom piñata (because he thinks fungi are cool), cake, and presents to enjoy. But first, we did this:

Making Slime:
This was basically the same as previously posted, but I will repeat the instructions here because this one is quite fun. If it gets too thick there isn’t much to do to fix it. So pouring the borax in slowly while stirring is a good idea. There should be a little liquid in the cup when it’s just right.

Materials needed:
White glue (not clear as pictured; this recipe isn’t right for clear glue)
Borax
Dye (like food coloring)
Water
plastic cups and plastic forks or knives

1. Pour about 1/3 cup glue and 1/3 water into a cup. Stir together and add the dye. The more homogenous this solution is, the better the results will be. Stir until all the white glue specks are dissolved. In a separate cup or clean plastic bottle with a lid, stir (or shake) about 1 Tablespoon Borax with about 3/4 cup water. Mix very well.

2. While stirring, pour a few drops of the Borax solution into the glue mix. Stir well, Continue adding Borax in small amounts until you have mostly glop and very little liquid. Pour off liquid and rinse the slime in water. Squeeze off excess water but do not attempt to dry it with a paper towel. It’s ready to play with! Store in a plastic bag or jar. Wash hands after playing.

If you would like to see slime being made, there is a good video tutorial on YouTube.

Activity 2: Expanding Ivory Soap

Easy, clean fun. Get a few bars of Ivory Soap and slice into quarters. (Doesn’t work with other kinds of American soap.) Place a piece in a bowl or on a plate. We used disposable paper bowls, but it doesn’t really matter.

One at a time, place them in the microwave and set it on high for 15-25 seconds. The whipped formula of Ivory soap allows the internal air to heat up and the pressure causes a really cool expansion. The soap sculpture will deflate as it cools, so the fun is in watching it. The sculptures can be saved and used in the bath. They are very crumbly, though.

Activity 3: Floating Orb

This one was new to me, and I was a little skeptical. Science Bob has some really fun things on his website and my son REALLY wanted to try this one. It works and it is super cool. It is worth whatever you have to pay to find tinsel out-of-season. Luckily, as I’m posting this, your local stores are putting tinsel on the shelves, so don’t hesitate. If your kid has ever heard of Star Wars, he/she will love this. It is so fun!

Materials needed:
• a package of standard cheap mylar tinsel (the thinner, the better)
• 2 feet (60cm) of PVC plastic pipe about 1 inch diameter (2.5cm) (Lowes has this precut in the plumbing aisle. Costs about $1.50-$2.00)
• Dry weather, fur, hair, wool, carpet, etc.
• a little patience

It is recommended that you watch his video here or go to ScienceBob.com and look for the Levitating Orb video. (Although I was having trouble getting the video to load today.) Also recommended is the explanation of the scientific principles at work, which is on his Levitating Orb instruction page. Static has a fun side!

His instructions are:
1. Arrange 6 strands of mylar together and tie them together in a knot at one end. [This is where the patience comes in.]
2. Tie them together again about 6 inches (15cm) from the first knot.
3. Cut the loose mylar strands off just past each knot.orb
4. Charge the PVC pipe by rubbing it back and forth through your hair for 10 seconds.
5. Hold the mylar orb (by the knot) above the charged pipe and let it drop and touch the pipe.
6. It should repel away and start floating. If the tinsel keeps sticking to the pipe, the tinsel is probably not thin enough and you will need to try another kind of tinsel or order some from [Science Bob]. You will usually have to “recharge” the pipe before each levitation. [Also, charge the whole pipe or as much as you can, not just one end.]

Way cool. (And very hard to photograph.)

orb

One thought on “The Science Birthday Party

  1. Another quick microwave science experiment for you. Put a traditional light bulb in a glass of water, the screw side down, and microwave on high for 45 seconds. Watch as the light turns on. I was skeptical (and a little nervous) but it totally worked. Very cool birthday, tell the birthday boy we think he is pretty great.

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