BY MARGO GRAF
For many, March is the silver lining in our winter’s passing. Kernersville is defrosting, people are thinking about the flowers to be, spring is happily en route. Well, for now. In case we do have a sneaky snowstorm pop up with our classically unpredictable weather, we have gathered some indoor activities to keep your kids busy. (And not just busy, but some educational fun thrown in there too.)
Make a quick stop for supplies, prep the kitchen, and let the kids take over. In fact, just hand them this article and have them pick out an activity or two.
LET’S GROW A LITTLE
Two things are essential for plants to grow – sunlight and water. Plants do not need soil. Soil is certainly helpful (it carries nutrients), but many plants grow well on rocks, in sand, in water, and other places too! (Not on Mars, though.)
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:
- Beans, duh! Fava or Broad beans, Lima beans, Jellybeans, Pole beans, and Bush beans are all easy to grow. (Okay maybe one isn’t so easy…) If you do not have beans, try with a seed from an apple or other fruit in your kitchen. They may take longer to grow roots.
- Water and Sunlight. We already went over this. As long as you do not live in a desert cave, you should be able find some.
- Jar. This could be an old jelly container…anything that can hold liquid and is clear.
- Napkin or paper towel.
Put a little water in the jar, just to cover the bottom. Then take your napkin and make it damp. Place the napkin in the jar. Rest the bean or seed on top of the napkin. Close container and place it in a lighted area. A windowsill is a great spot. Every few days, spray a little water on the napkin. Make sure it does not dry out!
What do you notice? Any little alien legs sprouting from the bean?
After a while, your bean will develop into a plant. You can transfer it to soil and help it grow faster and bigger. If you take great care of it, it may produce more beans. Then you can start a bean farm. Your bean farm may be so successful you can retire at 13 and spend the rest of your life racing go-karts…in your personal stadium.
Do you want another challenge? Try it with one bean in one jar and another bean in a different jar. Keep jar A in the sunlight and jar B in a shady place. Note the difference that the light makes.
GROOVY LAVA LAMPS
Let’s get groovy and bring some lava to life – the kind that does not melt your hand off.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:
- A Glass Container. A bottle, beaker, cup… anything you can see through that holds liquid.
- Food Coloring
- Mineral Oil or Vegetable Oil
Fill 25% of your bottle with water. You can eye-ball this amount. Just aim for 1/4th of the bottle to be water.
Take your food coloring and add about 4 drops to the water.
Add your oil and fill to the top of the glass. Then take a small piece of Alka-Seltzer and drop it in… BOOM! Just kidding, there should be NO explosions.
What do you see? Lots of colorful bubbles rising up through your glass and falling back down?
Lava lamps use the heat from their light to activate the blobs. We use Alka-Seltzer instead. Because water is more dense than oil, it will sink to the bottom when the two are put in the same container.
The Alka-Seltzer reacts with the water to produce carbon dioxide (CO2) gas bubbles. These stick to the water droplets. The water/gas combo is less dense than the oil, so they rise to the top of the bottle. The gas bubbles pop at the top and escape into the air. This allows the dense water to sink back to the bottom again.
Do you ever need to give your friends messages, but can’t risk other spies figuring out your secrets? Then you need to practice writing with lemon juice! Wait, what? It is true, lemons are a spy’s best friend.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:
- Lemon (or an orange or milk)
- Q-Tip or cotton swab
- White paper
Squeeze the lemon over a bowl so you have collected its juice.
Add a few drops of water and mix. Dip your Q-Tip in the mixture and then write your message on the paper.
Wait for it to dry, then have a friend hold the paper near a light source, like a lamp. The message will appear.
Lemon juice oxidizes (it has a reaction with oxygen) and turns brown when heated. The message is revealed with light because the lemon juice becomes hot enough to change color and is then visible to the eye. Just don’t get it IN your eye!