Friday, August 15, 2008

HeadSong Friday: She Blinded Me With Science

You might remember, or you might not, because it shamefully happened so long ago, our gifts from The World's Best Mechanical Engineer. He is a dear friend of Suttonhoo's, who, at her sweet request, answered some questions from Joe-Henry OVER A YEAR AGO. Joe-Henry was going through that phase that some kid's go through: "How does this work?", and almost all his questions revolved around Max Train Doors. I was doing my best to keep up and answer them, but since I went into the arts for a reason (I suck at science and math), I was coming up short in the explanation department. Suttonhoo happened to be in town, and while nursing a bottle of wine, we discussed this and that, and it came out that she was on her way to visit The World's Best Mechanical Engineer. "Man, I wish I knew a mechanical engineer. Maybe then JH would be satisfied with my answers about how the doors on the Max work" She kindly offered to take JH's questions to the man himself, and lo and behold, it became this amazing series.

We managed one of the experiments, but then life intervened, and a combination of disorganization (having some but not all the items needed for the experiments), shifting interests (riding his bike, music, Star Wars, tying his shoes - just kidding about that last one - just wishful thinking on my part) and his new phase, which is basically "I won't do anything you tell me about, no matter how amazing or cool it is." have prevented us from going further.

And I have felt guilty about this. Because he's not just any old mechanical engineer, he's THE WORLD'S BEST, for Pete's sake, and he went to so much time and trouble to answer these questions. And the BOOKS! Do you remember these books that were a gift from he and Suttonhoo and his brother? We have been beyond blessed by the generous spirits of people we've never even met, and I can't make him do ONE EXPERIMENT.

So today, I got a gentle reminder from Suttonhoo, and darn it, we were going to do this experiment. We had all the items needed, except for the Mountain Dew bottle, but we managed to substitute that with a 2 liter Talking Rain bottle. We were all set, until I realized the duct tape had vanished. And it didn't matter how hard I worked to find it, it wasn't going to be found. And because it's so hot today, and someone in this house is having some kind of hormonal melt-down (and for a change, it isn't ME!), we did not get out the door to the store to get more duct tape. BUT, I did put in an order with Mr. Husband, and he will bring it on home to me, and we will all do this experiment this weekend, I SWEAR TO THOMAS DOLBY. And there will be pictures and a post.

But in the meantime, because Joe-Henry had gotten used to the idea that he was going to do something that didn't involve a computer or television, he was feeling a bit let down (this is where the hormonal screaming and crying come in), and "I WANT TO DO AN EXPERIMENT WITH FOOD COLORING! BWAAAAAHHHHAAAAAAAAHAAAAA" followed by many tears was on the bill for the floor show this morning. So, we did. An experiment with food coloring. And life is good again.

Food Coloring & Milk Experiment (I ran across this in The Oregonian a few days back, but can't find the link...)
with visual aides:

What you'll need:

Milk, food coloring, a shallow dish, Qtips, dish soap (and a paper towel nearby - there's milk and food coloring after all)

The original experiment said to use 2% or higher milk, but that's not how we roll around here, so we made do with 1% and it worked fine

Now pour the milk into the dish, and add a few drops food coloring of different colors. They said to make it not too far apart, so we did about an inch or two

Then take a Qtip and touch it to the middle of the milk. Nothing happens, right?

Now, add a drop of dishsoap to the other end of the Qtip

WOW! The drops scatter and move, making really pretty patterns in the milk

As you can see, it was a hit. And we managed to not get food coloring over every inch of the house.

The theory behind this is that the proteins and fat in the milk respond to the soap. It's all sciency and stuff. But it's really fun to watch. If you care to do this yourself, you can do as recommended by The World's Best Mechanical Engineer himself, and play this song while you perform some Mad Science....


suttonhoo said...


this makes me so happy i can't even tell you.


Amber said...

When I was little,I looooooooved this video!

1.Because I thought TD was sooo cute!

2.I thought that girls' dress was awesome,because the back was like a violin,and TD was pretending it was a violin.(too funny,I know)

Hehe....thought I would share:)

I, Rodius said...

That is pretty freakin' cool. And his smile says it all.

Donna said...

Cool! We just found out that Number One Son will have to do a magic trick/science experiment for his class in October (they also do demonstrations, speeches, and memorize poetry!). This one may fit the bill quite well! Truly I wanted him to do the Diet Coke and Mentos thing, but that's probably a tad messy for 3rd grade...

I remember we used to do something with water, pepper and soap, but it's not as pretty as this!

Living In a Girl's World said...

My oldest loves science experiments. We have a book entitled something along the lines of "101 Science Experiments". We did one yesterday using syrup, water with food coloring in it, and oil. They all make distinct layers in a container due to the varying density of the liquids. Then you gently drop various objects into the container and see where they all land. Grapes float on top of the syrup layer while small metal objects sink through. I don't remember what stayed on top of the oil layer.

It was pretty neat. Hope it continues to be fun.