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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Science experiments for kids in the times of COVID-19

Simple activities like these can enlighten and delight our children, thus lending them the requisite support to become successful scientific thinkers.

Updated: April 23, 2020 6:54:02 pm
science (Representative image, Source: Getty Images)

By Rachna Arora

Being nosy is good, to pry is better, meddling is welcome and to question and challenge is the best. Oh! Not in the affairs of others but in the world around us. The fact that “Science is simply a word we use to describe a method of organizing our curiosity” is quite relevant in current times and giving our children as many opportunities to explore and learn by doing and inquiring fires their imagination thus inculcating critical thinking and logical reasoning.

The Indian constitution also prescribes “Scientific Temper with Humanism” as a fundamental duty which serves a key driver to invite and guide our children in their quest to explore the wonders of science.

Simple activities like these can enlighten and delight our children, thus lending them the requisite support to become successful scientific thinkers.

Read| 5 DIY ideas to teach your kids simple science concepts

The Fiery Seesaw

The action of the Fiery Seesaw comes from the changing mass of the candles — potential energy that gets converted into rotational kinetic energy.

As one end of the candle in the seesaw moves downward, the angled flame causes the wax to melt faster and drip more. As the dripping candle loses enough mass, it also loses potential energy which gets converted to kinetic energy and moves upward and the process is repeated.

Materials required

1. Long candle or two small candles

2. Sewing needle

3. 2 tall glasses that are of the same height

4. Aluminium foil or a tray/plate

Activity

Expose wick at both ends of the candle.

Put a large piece of aluminium foil/ tray on your work area.

Place the two glasses next to each other in the middle of the aluminium foil.

Pierce the needle through the candle about halfway down its length.

Balance the needles and candle between a pair of glasses.

Light one end of the needle and thereafter light the other end.

Exploration

Why does a candle even burn? (Combustion)

Under what condition is it possible that there is no movement in the candle?

The seesaw is a lever, identify which type and also make a list of other levers which we see in our homes.

How does the observation also explain Newton’s Third Law? ( action/ reaction)

What would happen if the candle is not balanced at its center?

What would be observed if the distance between the two glasses is increased?

Is it possible that the seesaw performs a full rotation? (that sure would look amazing)

Children should record the observations in their science journal. Indeed an illuminating activity!

Vibrant Traces

Materials required

1. White paper towels/tissue paper /filter paper

2. Gel/ink pens of different colours

3. Transparent galsses

4. Scissors

5. Cellotape

Activity

Cut thin strips of paper towel with scissors.

Use a sketch pen to draw a horizontal line on the strip measuring about 1-1.5 cm from the bottom of the strip and affix it to the pen with cello tape.

Dip the strip in a glass containing water such that only the edge of the paper touches the water.

Chromatography is a technique to separate mixtures and has an impact on our everyday life. It can be used to check impurities in our food, water and medicines. This is widely deployed by police & forensic scientists to identify substances found at crime scenes. The procedure can be easily understood with the help of paper chromatography.

After a few minutes when the water crosses the horizontal line you would notice that different pigments of the ink have separated. Remove the strip.

As the solvent (water in this case) moves up the paper, it takes the mixture with it. Based on their affinity to solvent, you would notice that different components of the mixture will move at different rates i.e. are they hydrophobic (water-hating) or hydrophilic (water-loving). The upward movement of water through the paper is attributed to capillary action. Water being a sticky liquid, we are dealing with the forces of adhesion (water sticks to the paper) and cohesion (water sticks to itself).

Exploration-Test the inks in different solvents – nail paint remover, surgical spirit, vinegar, cooking oil, turpentine oil.

Marigold petals, rose petals, beetroot, spinach cut into small pieces (use whatever is available), immerse the samples individually in rubbing alcohol (surgical spirit). After about 30-40 minutes, filter and test the pigments contained in each with the help of strips of paper towels/ tissue paper.

For a given solvent test use different type of papers – newspaper, paper from notebook.

Record & tabulate your observation in a Science journal.

This experiment is to be used in a role play (as a detective) for mock forensic investigation.

Such experiences are key enablers to help our children form their own ideas- not necessary conforming to the established scientific explanations.

Creativity is at the core of science, because science presents obstacles in discovery, and creativity allows for us to devise ways around those obstacles. Science has always tested human’s ability to think outside the box and question their surroundings, and creativity has been the driving force

May your creativity thrive and blossom! For you and the global good!

(The author is PGT Physics at Shiv Nadar School, Noida)

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