SMMART SCIENCE: EVERYDAY SCIENCE OPPORTUNITIES (GELATIN)
Opportunities to teach scientific principles are plentiful, hidden in our day-to-day activities. This activity provides a forum to teach your child about liquids, solids and gases…and you may have thought that gelatin was only good for jiggling.
Let your child help you fill a pot with 2 ½ cups of water. Let your child run his fingers under the tap and explore some of water’s properties…it runs right through his fingers, it feels wet, it pours out of the measuring cup easily, it takes the shape of the container that holds it (measuring cup, pot, bowl)…
Explain to your child that water is a LIQUID (A state of matter, neither gas nor solid, whose atoms move freely, and flows and takes the shape of its container).
Ask your child what other things are liquid (milk, juice)
Put the pot on the stove and let your child observe the water when it’s still cold, then again as it starts to boil. Explain to your child that when water becomes very hot, some of the water escapes into the air as steam. This steam is a GAS (the state of matter distinguished from the solid and liquid states by: relatively low density and viscosity; relatively great expansion and contraction with changes in pressure and temperature; the ability to diffuse readily; and the spontaneous tendency to become distributed uniformly throughout any container)
Talk about how the air we breathe is a gas. It’s called oxygen. Wave your fingers through the air to feel the properties of this gas. Talk about the properties of this gas…it is lighter than the water (less dense) because it is rising, it takes the shape of the container that holds it…
Even if you do not use the speed chill method using ice, show your child a piece of ice. When water becomes very cold it turns from a liquid into a SOLID (of definite shape and volume; firm; neither liquid nor gaseous;)
Show your child other solid objects in the kitchen.
Let your child pour out the two large boxes of flavored gelatin powder into a bowl. Allow him to put his finger in the powder and explore the texture and movement. Explain to your child that this powder is a SOLID. It is made up of many tiny solid pieces that are sitting all together in the bowl.
Now pour the boiling water into the bowl and carefully let your child stir the gelatin and water together. Say the word “DISSOLVE” with your child. Observe that the water dissolves the gelatin powder until you don’t see the powder anymore. Now the gelatin and water in solution are a LIQUID. Allow your child to sample a teaspoon of cooled gelatin liquid.
Pour the gelatin liquid into a 9X13 pan and chill in the refrigerator at least 3 hours. Explain that the gelatin will become solid as it chills.
When the gelatin is firm, cut into blocks or shapes and allow your child to explore the solid gelatin texture. Squeeze the gelatin, look through the transparent gelatin, jiggle the gelatin. Explain that the gelatin was a SOLID powder, dissolved into a LIQUID form and chilled into SOLID form.
Enjoy your gelatinous solid matter together!