Wednesday, January 30, 2013

SMMART SCIENCE: Monster Jam and Water Wheel

What ways can wheels be powered?  An engine, a motor, blowing a stream of air or a stream of water can power a wheel too!
  Water and combination!
   Find something round in your recycle bin that you can push a skewer oatmeal top, a small plastic plate or plastic cup bottom...
  Tape little cups around the perimeter and set up your skewer onto something to prop up the wheel.   If you are lucky enough to find a long dowel, then you can prop the dowel up on the edges of the sink.
  What little cups do you have on hand? (empty creamer cups, I found little plastic clear cups at the dollar store, foam egg carton cups, or you can wrap foam paper into little triangle cups and secure them onto the "round" item you found) 
 "A water wheel converts the potential and kinetic energy of a stream of water to rotational kinetic energy. The undershot wheel on the left-hand side of the model uses only kinetic energy, while the overshot wheel (right-hand wheel and top chute) used mainly potential energy. The breast-wheel (right-hand wheel, lower chute) uses both types of energy" (

Thursday, January 10, 2013

SMMART SCIENCE: Growing Gummy Heart

Goodness! This is fun stuff! Look through your child's Valentine Candy they bring home and see if any of the candy has gelatin in their ingredients. If it's gummy, goomy candy, then it probably has gelatin in it. You can try different candies to determine if gelatin is present with this activity too.

Two candies of the same kind is best so you can compare sizes afterwards. Place one candy into a bowl of water and after some time... you will observe that the candy has GROWN. Have your child pull out the candy from the water and compare the size of the waterlogged candy to the normal size candy.

Gelatin absorbs water. You can read all about it from an earlier guest post here, from Loralee at, where she has all kinds of fun ways to play with your candy. She actually has a new book out too called Candy Experiments, by Loralee Leavitt.

Here are some Valentine activities I shared on "Good Things Utah":

Also today, the Wallace F Toronto Foundation (I'm on the board as secretary) had a segment.  Check out :


Okay, this physics activity is going to be super fun and expect to find Q tips all over your house. You need Q tips and a straw that doesn't have a bendy part... or just snip off the short part of the straw to remove the bendy accordian part.
Load a Qtip into the straw so the Q tip is completely in the straw and just the end is at the edge of the straw. Make sure it is at the far, opposite side of where you put the straw up to your mouth. Blow into the straw and launch that puppy across the room!

Now, load a Q tip into the straw and place your lips on the straw so the end of the Q tip is sitting next to your lips this time. Blow! Watch it sail!
Which way sent the Q tip flying farther? Why do you think it mattered what end the Q tip was on?
(more force propelling the Q tip when it is closer to your lips because the Q tip is pushed on by your breath longer.)

By the way, I am using this fun idea for my daughter's upcoming Valentines Party at school. We are going to attempt aiming and shooting Cupid's arrows into decorated Heart bowls for a relay game.


Happy Valentines coming up!  Here is a few fun Science Actitivity to share with that special someone!

Okay, we've done this activity before, but it's too fun, quick and easy to pass up.  Hopefully you have little heart molds somewhere, but if not:
-drop a little raisin into each block of an icecube tray and fill with water to freeze.  Call them little love bugs in the ice
-color your icecubes red or pink
-if you are using the long cubes, call them cupid's arrows

Place a few icecubes in a bowl of water.  Give your child a piece of yarn (at least a foot long) and have them lay the yarn on top of the ice and count to 20.  Then have them lift the yarn to see what happens (nothing will happen...just wet yarn).  Have your child lay the string across the icecubes and sprinkle salt on top of the yarn that is lying on the ice.  Count to 20 and lift up the yarn.  The ice sticks to the yarn like a necklace! 

Salt melts the ice around the yarn and the cold water helps the ice refreeze a bit around the yarn so the ice cubes freeze right onto the yarn.  It's a fun magic every time!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"Good Things Utah"
on Thursday, January 10th for some SMMART Heart Valentine Science Fun!
10:00am on abc4

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

SMMART GIVEAWAY(Closed): Candy Experiments Book

Winner: N DeSouza said...
I would love this book to aid a project I am doing at AS level! I plan to do a science of Sweets event and am currently looking everywhere for ideas. Don't have kids just yet but if I did I would love to do the experiment where you grow sugar (rock) crystals on string. It look absoluetley marvellous and the science behind it is really great!
Loralee from is giving away her book that just came off the press!
Make giant gummi worms, turn M&Ms into dazzling comets, grow candy crystals, and turn cotton candy into slime! You'll find all these experiments and more, plus simple scientific explanations, in the book Candy Experiments!

Candy Experiments, published by Andrews McMeel, shares experiments from the popular website, as well as experiments that have never been published before. Learn how to separate candy colors, make candy cane stripes in bowls of water, sink marshmallows, and float taffy. Each experiment includes color photos and scientific explanations. Your kids will love experimenting with their candy, and they'll learn something, too!

Enter to win!  You can do one or both of the following by FRIDAY, January 18, 2013:
1) Leave a comment below this post (with your email address and your first name/last initial).  Tell me one of your favorite science activities you have done with your child (can be either an experiment at home, observing something together or going to some venue or event). 
2) FOLLOW SMMARTideas!  Click on "Join this Site" in my right sidebar and follow this blog!  If you already follow, then let me know!  Thank you for your support!

Winner will be posted at the top of this post and I will attempt to email you.  You have 24 hours to e-mail me at before another winner is chosen.  Thank you!

SMMART TIME-OUT: Valentine's Day Class Party Ideas

I thought I'd share with you the Party Plan I've made for my daughter's class party.  Might help you a bit if you are sifting through ideas to use at your child's school.  Keep in mind, these ideas are not original and I didn't think about posting them on my site until after I was all done making up the plan, so I don't have places to site some of the ideas.  Sorry no photos yet.

4 Breakout Activities (10 minutes each):
1-Children attempt to place lips on Mrs. Hyre’s picture while blindfolded. 

2-While waiting their turn,students attempt to stack valentine heart candies into a tower using chopsticks (they can use two hands or just try to balance a tower that rests on top of two chopsticks placed next to each other… however they wish to play)

3-If time remains, the parent helper can lead the class in “Lips, lips, who has the lips?”

(SUPPLIES NEEDED:  8X10 photo of Mrs. Hyre, 24 cardstock lip cutouts, masking tape,  bag of Valentine Hearts, 6 pair chopsticks)

Make head bands from poster paper and punch two holes on the top to push the pipecleaners through the top holes.  Roll each antennae around a pencil to make twirl effect.  Top each antennae with a heart.

(SUPPLIES NEEDED: 24 Poster paper bands from 6 Posterboards, 24 pipecleaners, Masking tape to secure the hat band, 48 LARGE googly eyes, 4 black felt pieces, 1 piece of black cardstock to make mini heart antennae toppers,  24 mini pieces of yarn for mouth, craft glue, 8 Q-tips, 2 paper plates for glue, markers to accessorize and make dots or details on band- can make ladybugs, bees, beetle details…whatever they like with the markers)

CUPIDS ARROW- Children will load their straw with a Q-tip and blow into the straw to attempt to shoot the Q-tip into a bowl.  You can play in different ways:

1-      Students stand in two lines and the playing students stand behind a certain point to try to shoot their 3 Q-tip into a bowl.  Players try to get their 3 Q tips into the bowl before the other player.

2-      Relay race where each student gets one Q tip and the two lines compete to see whos team can shoot their Q tips into the bowl first.

3-      All students get 3 Q-tips and stand around the bowl in a circle (far from the bowl).  Students try to get all of their Q tips into the bowl before the other students.

4-      What other ways can you think to play?

(SUPPLIES NEEDED: 24 straws, 1 box of Q tips (at least 72 Q tips), Large bowl)

Flip Macey’s paper bags inside out and cut off top of handle to make 2 antennae.  Students will write their names on the back of the bag in BIG letters!  Decorate the face with Big white hearts and little black hearts for eyeballs, pompom nose and pink heart for lips.  Then students can decorate with additional stickers or marker details to create their Love Bug Bags.

(SUPPLIES NEEDED: 24 paper bags with handles (from Macey’s 10cents each)including one for Mrs. Hyre, 8 White cardstock to make 48 large eye hearts, 16 black cardstock to make 48 smaller eye hearts and 48 antennae toppers, 24 Pompoms for noses,  4 pink cardstock for 24 Heart mouths, craft glue, 8 Q-tips, 2 paper plates for glue, Markers to accessorize (eyelashes, cheeks…)and WRITE NAME on back)

ALL the class together:

VALENTINE MAIL:  Students will get their valentines and stand in a circle around their Valentine Boxes that are in a circle.  Parent helpers will be in the middle of the circle to help the students.  Students will walk around the circle and drop their valentine treat into each box. (This will give parent helpers time to clean up tables and set out plates, drinks, extra cookies or treats and materials to make the Valentine Love Bug Treats)

Link 3 donut holes onto half a skewer and let the children add pretzel antennae to the head and and legs to the thorax.

(SUPPLIES NEEDED:  72 donut holes and 12 skewers (3 donut holes per child pre-linked on a half skewer-cut off sharp end), 120 pretzel sticks (5 per child-2 antennae and 3 halved for legs), 48 valentine heart candies for eyes-no icing…just rest them on since they will be eaten immediately)

SMMART SCIENCE: Guest Post: Loralee

The Incredible Growing Gummi Worm

GUEST POST From Loralee at

Gelatin is amazing stuff.  A small amount of gelatin absorbs a lot of water, creating a huge, solid mass.  For example, the 18 grams of gelatin in one box of JELL-O mix can absorb four cups of water.

The tiny amount of gelatin in a Jell-O packet can absorb four cups of water to create a solid.

Gelatin contains long protein molecules that tangle together.  As these molecules form bonds, cross-linking like a jungle gym, they trap water molecules between them.  Because gelatin absorbs so much water, candy containing gelatin acts like a sponge. A single tiny candy submerged in water can swell to an enormous size.  That’s what makes “The Incredible Growing Gummi Worm” one of our favorite candy experiments.

To turn a gummi worm into a “gummi snake,” fill a flat dish with water and drop in a gummi worm (or several).  Set aside a dry gummi worm for later comparison.  Check back every few hours to see your gummi worm growing, since it can continue to absorb water for up to two days. 

Once your gummi worm has grown to its full length, you can perform tests to see how much it grew. 
  • Use a ruler to measure the length of the giant gummi worm, then measure the dry gummi worm and compare. 
  • Weigh it and compare its weight with a dry gummi worm.  Be gentle, because a water-engorged gummi worm becomes fragile and splits easily, like Jell-O.  Try moving it by tipping most of the water out of the dish, laying down some plastic wrap, and sliding the gummi worm onto the plastic to weigh it. Then weigh a dry gummi worm and subtract it from the weight of the giant gummi worm.  The remainder is the weight of all the water that was absorbed.

You can also try this activity with other gummi candies, like fruit snacks or Life Savers Gummies.  Check the ingredient labels to make sure that your experimental gummies do contain gelatin.  Gummi candies without gelatin, like Swedish Fish, don’t absorb extra water. 

“The Incredible Growing Gummi Worm” is just one of dozens of candy experiments in Loralee Leavitt’s new book, Candy Experiments.  Order from, Barnes & Noble, or visit her book signing in Salt Lake City at the King’s English, Sat Feb 16 at 2:00 pm.  You can also follow her candy adventures online at

For more information:

2010 Harvard Food Science Lecture #8: Gelation


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