Simple science experiment for kids

Oil the hinges of a door and it will stop squeaking. Rub petroleum jelly on lips to prevent them from becoming chapped. These slippery substances are called lubricants. They are very important in modern technology.

What you'll need

4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
Square baking pan
A mixing bowl
Liquid dish detergent
Vegetable oil
2 bowls
A watch with a second hand
Grown-up alert!
A table knife
8-ounce cup
Your science journal

What to do
  1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve the 4 envelopes of gelatin in 2 cups of hot tap water.
  2. Coat the inside of the pan with vegetable oil. Pour the gelatin mixture into the pan and put it in the refrigerator until firm (about 3 to 4 hours).
  3. Use the knife to cut the gelatin into cubes about 1 x 1 x 1 inch. You should have about 64 cubes.
  4. Place 15 cubes into a bowl. Place the second bowl about 6 inches (about 15 centimeters) away from the cube bowl.
  5. When your parent or a friend says "go," start picking up the gelatin cubes one at a time with your thumb and index finger (don't squeeze!). See how many cubes you can transfer to the other bowl in 15 seconds. (Grown-up alert! - Do not eat the gelatin cubes after they have been handled or after they are covered with lubricant.)
  6. Put all the cubes back in the first bowl. Pour 1/4 cup dish detergent over the cubes. Gently mix the detergent and the cubes so that the cubes are well-coated.
  7. Use the same method as before to transfer as many cubes as possible in 15 seconds.
  8. Throw away the cubes and detergent and wash and dry both bowls. Put about 15 new cubes into one bowl and pour 1/4 cup water over the cubes, again making sure the cubes are thoroughly coated. See how many cubes you can transfer in 15 seconds.
  9. Throw away the cubes and water. Put about 15 new cubes into one bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of vegetable oil over the cubes. Make sure they are well coated. See how many cubes you can transfer in 15 seconds.
  10. With which liquid were you able to transfer the most cubes? With which liquid were you able to transfer the fewest cubes? Which was the best lubricant (the slipperiest)? Which was the worst?
Cars, trucks, airplanes, and machines all have parts that rub against one another. These parts would heat up, wear down, and stop working if we didn't have lubricants. Lubricants reduce the amount of friction between 2 surfaces that move against each other.

Simple science experiments CELERY STALKS AT MIDNIGHT
Did you ever wonder how a paper towel can soak up a spill, or how water gets from a plant's roots to its leaves? The name for this is "capillary action."

What you'll need

4 same-size stalks of fresh celery with leaves
4 cups or glasses
Grown-up alert!
Red and blue food coloring
A measuring cup
4 paper towels
A vegetable peeler
A ruler
Some old newspapers
Your science journal

What to do
  1. Lay the 4 pieces of celery in a row on a cutting board or counter so that the place where the stalks and the leaves meet matches up.
  2. Cut all 4 stalks of celery 4 inches (about 10 centimeters) below where the stalks and leaves meet.
  3. Put the 4 stalks in 4 separate cups of purple water (use 10 drops of red and 10 drops of blue food color for each half cup of water).
  4. Label 4 paper towels in the following way: "2 hours," "4 hours," "6 hours," and "8 hours." (You may need newspapers under the towels).
  5. Every 2 hours from the time you put the celery into the cups, remove 1 of the stalks and put onto the correct towel. (Notice how long it takes for the leaves to start to change.)
  6. Each time you remove a stalk from the water, carefully peel the rounded part with a vegetable peeler to see how far up the stalk the purple water has traveled.
  7. What do you observe?
    Notice how fast the water climbs the celery.
    Does this change as time goes by? In what way?
  8. Measure the distance it has traveled and record this amount in your science journal.
  9. Make a list of other objects around your house or in nature that enable liquids to climb by capillary action. Look for paper towels, sponges, old sweat socks, brown paper bags, and flowers.
Capillary action happens when water molecules are more attracted to the surface they travel along than to each other. In paper towels, the molecules move along tiny fibers. In plants, they move through narrow tubes that are actually called capillaries. Plants couldn't survive without capillaries because they use the water to make their food.

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