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STEM Activity Spotlight:

By Francesca Vidal


STEM activities encourage kids to explore STEM in different ways while also having fun. Kids can participate in hands-on STEM activities while also learning the science behind them. This St. Patrick's Day, enjoy experimenting with magic milk, creating a fizzing cauldron, or discovering why pennies turn green.



Magic Milk

photo/ Little Bins for Little Hands

This chemistry experiment allows kids to observe a colorful explosion of colors caused by a reaction. Younger kids between three to 6 years old would most enjoy the magic milk experiment. While this experiment is simple to conduct, younger children may need help pouring ingredients into a bowl.


Materials:

  • 2 Bowls

  • Whole Milk

  • Food Coloring

  • Dish Soap

  • Cotton Swabs

  • Shamrock-shaped Cookie Cutter


Steps:

  1. Pour milk into a bowl so that the bowl is half full.

  2. Pour food coloring into the bowl and place the cookie cutter on top.

  3. Pour a little bit of soap into a second bowl.

  4. Dip a cotton swab into the soap and carefully dip it in the milk.

  5. Watch the colorful reaction occur!


How it Relates to STEM:

The reaction between the soap and the fat in the milk causes the explosion of colors to occur. The molecules in soap have special properties that cause them to become attracted and attack the fat in the milk. This is why soap is used for cleaning dirty surfaces. Soap is less dense than milk. This prevents the soap from sinking to the bottom of the milk. The soap touches the food coloring as it spreads across the surface of the milk. As the soap tries to fight the fat in the milk, movement occurs.



Fizzing Cauldron

photo/ Little Bins for Little Hands

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by making your fizzing cauldron. While this activity takes less than 30 minutes, it is one that kids of all ages are sure to enjoy! This activity requires no supervision for older kids and little to no supervision for younger kids.


Materials:

  • Baking Soda

  • White Vinegar

  • Food Coloring

  • 1 Small Pot

  • A Tray

  • A spoon

  • A Baster

  • Glitter or Gold Coins (for decoration)


Steps:

  1. Place the pot on the tray.

  2. Add food coloring to the pot. Add as many different colors as you want into the pot.

  3. Add a spoonful of baking soda to the pot.

  4. Finally, add vinegar to the pot and watch the reaction occur!


How it Relates to STEM:

The fizzing from the pot occurs because of a chemical reaction. When molecules combine and create a new substance, a chemical reaction occurs. The vinegar and the baking soda combine in the pot to form carbon dioxide gas. The fizzing occurs as an indication that a chemical reaction is taking place.



Polishing Pennies

photo/ Little Bins for Little Hands

Did you know that old pennies can change color? In this STEM activity, learn how to polish old pennies through a simple mixture. This activity would be great for kids from 5 to 9 years old. Minimal supervision is needed for this activity.


Materials:

  • White Vinegar

  • Salt

  • Water

  • 2 Wide Bowls

  • A teaspoon

  • Paper Towels

  • Old Pennies


Steps:

  1. Pour ¼ cup of vinegar and a teaspoon of salt into each bowl.

  2. Place around five pennies into each bowl.

  3. Leave the pennies in the bowl for a few minutes.

  4. In one bowl, rinse the pennies with water

  5. Place the pennies from both bowls onto a paper towel and notice how the pennies rinsed with water change color.


How it Relates to STEM:

The reason that one group of pennies turned green and the other did not was due to the presence of water. The mixture of vinegar and salt caused the old pennies to become polished and look new again. However, when the copper in the pennies is exposed to water, a chemical reaction occurs between the water, copper, and oxygen that causes the copper to turn green. This is why the Statue of Liberty is green. As weathering occurs, the brown color of the copper changes.


Works Cited

McClelland, Sarah. “Magic Milk Science Experiment for St Patrick’s Day.” Little

Bins for Little Hands, 2 Mar. 2019, littlebinsforlittlehands.com/milk-and-

food-coloring-experiment/.

McClelland, Sarah. “Make Green Pennies Science Activity Copper Experiment.”

Little Bins for Little Hands, 5 Mar. 2016, littlebinsforlittlehands.com/make-

green-pennies-copper-penny-science-experiment/.

McClelland, Sarah. “St Patrick’s Day Fizzing Pot Experiment - Little Bins for Little

Hands.” Little Bins for Little Hands, 24 Feb. 2021, littlebinsforlittlehands.com

/st-patricks-day-fizzing-pots-science-experiment-color-mixing-activity/.

McKeachie, Manon. “Why Does Copper Turn Green?” Curious, 23 June 2022,

www.science.org.au/curious/technology-future/why-does-copper-

turngreen#:~:text=The%20chemical%20reaction&text=Copper%20will%20

start%20to%20react.



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