Thursday, March 11, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Science Fun
Rainbow Density Gradient and Shinin' up yer Gold
Skittles Rainbow Density Gradient
"Taste the rainbow of fruit flavors..." Remember that marketing phrase? Well, This March 17th I really mean it! A skittle rainbow of fruit flavor, density gradient style...what else?
There are actually many ways you can form this density gradient. Here's one way:
You'll need:
A good size bag of skittles
5 cups
3 Tb of water per cup
clear drinking straw

-First have your little leprechaun count out the colored skittles and put them into piles...20 red skittles, 15 orange skittles, 10 yellow skittles, 5 green skittles and 1 purple skittle.
-Now let your wee one help you put 3Tb of water into each cup. Place the 20 red skittles in one cup, the 15 orange skittles into another cup, the 10 yellow into a separate cup, the 5 green skittles into a different cup and the 1 purple skittle into the last cup.
-Let the skittle candy colored coats dissolve. When the candy coats dissolve, you can spoon out the remaining centers (and eat em').

-Now you have 5 beautifully colored cups of water. Place the clear straw into the purple water and get a little in your straw, then cap the straw with your finger. Rest the straw into the next highest sugar dense water (green) and put your mouth over the straw and your finger to suck up just a teeny bit of the green water and cap it with your finger (tricky)...continue down the rainbow, collecting the next most dense colored water in the straw, until you have accomplished the feat of making your own density gradient rainbow captured in a straw. (Looks perty when you hold it up in front of a sunlit window.)

If you can't get the hang of the suck-up-the-colored-water-and-cap-it-with-your-finger step, then you can always try to delicately pour your rainbow gradient colors into a clear glass (most dense first to rest on the bottom=red) to create a lovely rainbow gradient in a glass. I cannot get the hang of this! (Check out the step by step at

Personally, I think the easiest way to achieve a density gradient in a straw is using food coloring and sugar in four different full cups of water. Each cup with a different food coloring contains 1 tsp, 2 tsp, 3 tsp and 4 tsp or sugar. Then you dip the straw into each cup of water, successively putting the straw into the next cup a little deeper each time. You can see this experiment with sugar-water and food coloring here.
Use tall glasses so you can dip the straw deeper each time. I used 1 cup of water in each of the glasses...and I actually used the same amount of skittles as the way above instead of using teaspoons of sugar... (just more water-still works great, and dipping is easier than sucking up the water!)
Apparently, you should be able to carefully pour each layer (most dense on the bottom) on top of each other to create a density gradient in a glass...but I have tried so many times and haven't got the skills to accomplish such a feat. I won't be too hard on talents lie elsewhere.

Now what else would the fair people of Ire' land be using on their Haggis, but a hearty helpin' of...Ketchup!
(Never mind that Haggis is actually Scottish!-I just like the sound of it...Haggis! I think I'll get me some Haggis!)

Find some pennies that are tarnished and could use some sparkle.

Have yer little person squirt a plop of ketchup onto a plate, then place a few pennies on top, and squirt more ketchup on top for good measure. Let the pennies sit for a minute or two.

Let your little one squish and rub the pennies around in his little leprechaun fingers to polish up the coins. Rinse them off and you'll have shiny pennies!

The tarnish on an old penny is copper oxide. When it mixes with the vinegar in the ketchup, the vinegar and copper oxide combine to form copper acetate. Copper acetate dissolves in water and washes right off, leaving shiny coins to stash at the end of the rainbow.

You could also try shinin' up yer pot of gold with lemon juice, hot sauce, cola, vinegar...and see what shines 'em up the best. Contrast and compare!
Check out the "Good Things Utah" video segment.


Ticia said...

Very very cool! I wonder if I could do this before my kids ate the skittles?

Deals to Meals said...

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Anonymous said...

Im irish, we dont eat haggis, or play bagpipes or wear kilts...thats Scotland.


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