Category Archives: Science

Summer Science: Rockets & My Choice

Rockets and My Choice were the two final summer science programs I ran for school age children.  The rocket launcher was incredibly easy to build. It was a huge hit at both the library and when I went camping with another family. I am going to use it with my Girl Scouts at some point this year – probably at our fall camp out.

I use used the Paper Stomp Rocket tutorial from Instructables. It cost less than $15 for materials (including the pvc glue), and took about 15 minutes to build. I used an electric saw as opposed to a hand saw, so that probably helped keep the building time down. When prepping the pvc pieces used as a forming tubes, only wrap one layer of tape around the tube. Any more than that, and the rockets will be too loose. I also didn’t glue the bottle cap into the bushing/coupling (the library’s hot glue gun didn’t work). It turned out not to be a problem. In order to keep the bottle set in the bushing/coupling, I placed a small rock under it. Worked like a champ. It is important to have a TON of 2 liter bottles. One, even two, are not enough as they get mangled fairly quickly.

My Choice
I did three  activities for the final program:

  1. Film canister rockets
  2. Heat sensitive color changing slime
  3.  (I cannot remember for the life of me, nor can my director remember for the life of her.)

1. Film Canister Rockets – This idea came from a Girl Scout badge I did with my troop. It is very simple, inexpensive, and a lot of fun. Someday I would like to do the rockets as night, turning them into tracers with glowstick goop. Canisters can be purchased on Amazon. The only other two things you need are Alka-Seltzer tablets and a little bit of water. Put half a tablet in the canister, add about a tablespoon of water, pop the lid on, set it on the ground lid down, and get away. Some blow quickly, and others take a minute or two. The canisters can shoot over 15 feet into the air, so they are an outside-only activity.

2. Heat Sensitive Color Changing Slime  (from Left Brain Craft Brain) – A twist on the basic slime recipe, but oh so fun. I bought red and green thermochromic powder from Glomania. We did several color combinations:

yellow liquid watercolor + red powder (the yellow stays fairly true)
blue liquid watercolor + green powderyellow liquid watercolor + green powder (the yellow ends up being more of a snot green)
blue liquid watercolor + red powder

slime 2 slime 1


School-Age Science: ArtBots

This past Tuesday was my first attempt to carry over the science program momentum from the summer. Three children signed up, and three children participated, so it wasn’t a failure, but not necessarily a success (if judging by participation numbers). The three children who participated had a great time, so from that perspective, it was a success. I plan on repeating this with my Girl Scouts at our next meeting.

I got the initial idea from The Show Me Librarian, and used the tutorial from the Cheshire Public Library. I won’t rehash their content, but the tutorial was easy to follow.

It artbots about an hour from start to finish. I was initially worried the children would zip through the assembling process only to wonder what do to until the program ended. It took about 10 minutes for them to assemble the motor and 10-15 minutes to customize. This left around 30 minutes for the art. I had the children create individual pictures so they could make marker adjustments, then we made a mural to hang in the library.  We discussed how different surfaces, marker placement, or marker type might affect how the robots move.


What I learned:

*Dollar Tree in my area of greater Buffalo, NY does NOT carry the Luminart brand of electric toothbrushes. However, Family Dollar carries a comparable brand – Dr. Fresh Velocity.

*Thick rubber bands (wrapped around twice) are the best for securing the markers to the pool noodle. Duct tape does a good job holding the markers in place, but you can’t reposition them.