Saturday, February 23, 2008

Back Story on Engineering Week Activity

My favorite part of any story is the behind the scene action. So here it is, an up close and personal look at the "real" story behind the pictures.

There are two important facts you have to know: One - Although I have led many groups in scientific exploration, my own children are not often among them. Yes, just as the shoe maker's children have no shoes, the engineer's children have no concept of the scientific principle (I am so ashamed!)

and Two - Friday was the second snow day IN A ROW, Thurday being more of an ice day, which meant NO playing outside and no driving to any sort of activity. Just lots of fun togetherness. I let the boys celebrate by playing electronic games, watching TV, then playing more electronic games, with the expected result that they ended up being both catatonic and hyper. Yes you can be both, if you don't believe me, come for a visit.

So morning of the SECOND snow day, I made an announcement, "No electronics, this means (and you have to be specific here), no TV, no Computer, no Cameras, no playstation, no Wii and no gameboy, nothing that plugs into a wall or runs on batteries." At this point they began to thank me for taking an interest in their lives and ran to get the board games, paper and crayons for crafts and we had an old fashioned morning. It was blissful. NO wait, that was when the wailing began, if it bothered you in your part of the world, let me apologize now.

And to make my children's lives even worse, I made a list of things we were going to have to accomplish before we could even consider electronics. Terrible, horrible things like Make Bed, Eat Breakfast and (please don't report me) Read twenty minutes. Yes that was the second set of screams you heard. I also included Do Science Experiment. (Why do I have to do a science experiment, it's not in my homework, I won't do it, why can't I just watch tv, etc....)

After expending enough energy complaining, energy that could have used to complete the list twice over, the boys resigned themselves to the horrible fate before them. We proceded to move through our list, checking off clean room, practice piano/ drums, etc until I began bringing out the items for our experiment and the camera to document the procedure and results. When we got to the part of the procedure where you had to wait for five minutes, things began to unravel a bit.

Luckily (or unluckily depending on your view) we had vinegar and baking soda on the table. My boys were aware that the combination of these would do something, they weren't sure what, maybe explode. Finally they were showing some genuine interest. Like any good mother and engineer (both problem solving professions) I sensed the need to change directions.

That is were the mixing of baking soda and vinegar, and a study of acid and bases began. We progressed to mixing lemon juice and baking soda (to discover that lemon juice was also an acid), we then mixed date vinegar and baking soda to discover some acids are stronger than others and give a much better reaction. We mixed vinegar and baking soda in a closed container and watched the increased pressure within blow off the top of the container. (Full disclosure means I have to tell that the boys went screaming into the other room, diving behind the couch, waiting for the explosion!)

Here are the videos of the "explosion". I am holding the two ingredients separate, the vinegar in the container and the baking soda on the lid. The plan is to close the lid, combining both ingredients, as the reaction occurs, carbon dioxide is formed, increasing the pressure inside the container until the container "explodes".

Note to self: Find a steady camera man with nerves of steel.

But all is well that ends well and the boys were so excited, they decided to produce their own science show. Oh and the boys told anyone that they talked to that day, we did a cool experiment today. SUCCESS!!


Anonymous said...

Eeek! Be careful! Watch out! You are halfway to HOMESCHOOLING!!! Run! Run! Run!

; )
Funny Homeschooling Cindy

Tanya said...

that sounds fun. Will you make me do a science experiment next snow day? Puh-lease?

Jules said...

Your house sounds EXACTLY like mine. In fact, how did MY day end up on YOUR blog? And, I might add, your boys act exactly the same as mine.

electronics + guys= total fascination

So... have you ever tried dropping Mentos into a bottle of Coke. Really cool explosion! With velocity involved.

Just Because

Bina said...

Okay, this won't let me leave a comment!!! I hate when that happens.

Anyway, sounds like your kids had a great day, whether they wanted to or not! And it's one I'm sure they will remember.

Bina said...

Also meant to say..

LOVE the video of your son running with the camera! That should be on America's Funniest Videos!

Hey, are you "abfabgeek" because you have Fabulous Abs???

Maggie May said...

Wow, that was some interesting experiment!
My Dad was a scientist! But I never did take after him & even simple things like you did with the boys, is beyond my understanding!

Robin said...

Tanya - See that's all I wanted, a little enthusiasm. next time you come over and I'll send the boys to your work.

Jules - I am so sorry you had to have a day like mine. I think we will try the Mentos and Coke when it is warm enough to go outside. LOL

Bina - Fabulous Abs, oh my that would be terrific, unfortunately not even close, unless mushy is fabulous.

Maggie May - Thanks for coming by, I bet you understand more than you give yourself credit for.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea! That looks like such fun! You are obviously a creative, intelligent, beautiful, nurturing mom! (This is not Cindy)

OHmommy said...

Interesting experiment!

LOL.... "shoe maker's children" Guess who's dentist children have cavities? :)

Anonymous said...

How terribly mean, making your kids explode things in the kitchen. What kind of sicko parent are you? Do you realize how many kids each year lose an eye to these sorts of shenanigans? You should be ashamed of yourself. (This is not Cindy, either)

Anonymous said...

Whoa. Dude. That is too cool. Wish you were my mom. (Nope, not her. Honest.)

Anonymous said...

Hey, I just logged on, and look! There are 11 comments! In fact, this makes 12! Wow, seems like the public is itching for another entry, huh?


Cindy (her first comment today)

Faz said...

I can't wait until my daughter gets to the science experiment stage. She already likes my discrete electronics parts piled up in my computer room. In grade school, instead of the old vinegar/baking soda volcano, I lit a smoke bomb in it and subsequently cleared out the classroom. In high school, I was kicked out for a day for bringing in carbide. They don't take kindly to making acetylene in water fountines.