The Adventures of Science Mom: Volcanoes

I am a big believer in paying attention to what your child expresses interest in and then teaching him or her around that concept in as many ways as possible. Over the summer my family did a road trip through the desert, and my daugher was captivated by all the dormant volcanoes and the evidence of their eruptions. I’ve taken this interest and been diving deep with it through books and YouTube videos about volcanoes, and through tactile experiences such as the one pictured below.

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What you see below is the second volcanoe she has made.  The first version of this activity was generated by a science kit I had purchased where they included a playdough like modeling medium to work with, however, that material did not hold up well. All of the exposure to liquids caused it to melt apart. So I gave my child a small slab of regular clay which she played with for a few hours and then finally shaped into a volcano shape. I then gave her white glue that I had colored with green paint and she painted the volcano and then we let it air  dry in the sun for a few days. The glue helps to waterproof the clay.

The  key to this part of the activity is to help your young one think about how the shape of the volcano will affect the way the “lava” oozes out of it. You want the “cavity” portion of your volcano to be about an inch deep and  about an inch across. This will allow you to put in enough material for an  interesting chemical reaction to take place and not get lost in a deep hole. Then give your child a small quantity of yeast and baking soda (I reuse the small containers that come with herbal supplements for this purpose) and a few ounces of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar in squirt bottles. I have my daugher wear protective goggles when she does science experiments. These are the ones I have and they are FANTASTIC! Make sure to place all the materials in some sort of tray to catch all the liquid. You can also add some red watercolor to the liquids to give your lava a red hue!

With a small spoon have your child put a small amount of baking soda in the volcano and then add a little bit of vinegar. Watch what happens. Rinse out the volcano and have them do the same thing with the yearst and hydrogen peroxide.  The two difference chemical reactions are very different. After the experiment I had my daughter do drawings of the two reactions and explain to me in words how they were similar and different.

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It’s a really fun way to spend a few hours, and the best part is you can repeat it! Repitition is such an important part of learning.  Just because you might not want to do the activity again, doesn’t mean your child won’t want to! Have fun and be a spark in the world!

Recipe: Fall Harvest Salad

Every November my child’s school has a Thanksgiving feast and I always make a giant kale-based (I don’t like lettuce…too wilty) salad. The first picture shows the salad before I dressed it, the second image is a few ours later after I tossed it. Note that the chunks of Granny Smith Apple are still nice and white. When apples become brown it’s because they’ve begun to oxidize, but you can avoid this simply by tossing them with a little lemon juice. And if you’ve never had kabocha squash, check out last year’s post where I talk a little more about it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to add the dressing no more than 20-minutes before you will serve the salad or the kale gets too wilty (for my taste at least!!!) Enjoy and be a spark in the world.

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Fall Harvest Salad
3-Bunches of Lacinato Kale
4-small Granny Smith apples (or 2 large)
3-cups of cooked and refrigerated Kabocha squash cubed
1-1/2 cups of walnut pieces
1-cup of dried goji berries
2-large avocadoes
3-large lemons
olive oil and sea salt (I always dress with an olive oil that has a buttery taste, many olive oils have a peppery finish that I don’t care for so I avoid those)

Cut a Kobocha squash, remove its seeds and cook at 300-degrees for one-hour or until soft when poked with a fork. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until you are going to make the salad. This can be done up to 2-days before.

Remove the kale leaves from their center stalk and chop or rip. Cube Granny Smith apples and squeeze half a lemon over them and toss until fully coated. Cut the Kabocha squash from its skin and cube it. Cube avocado. Toss the rest of the ingredients in with the kale. Squeeze the rest of the lemons and then add olive oil and salt to taste.  Enjoy!

If you like this recipe check out last year’s salad too.

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