Spooky Sparks

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Materials Needed:

  • Oven safe dish - reusable or disposable aluminum
  • Steel wool
  • 9V battery
  • Jug of water - just in case!

Instructions & Safety:

  • Since this activity does produce smoke, you may want to set-up outside. Just be sure if you do this experiment outside that it is not a windy day.
  • I did this experiment inside my house several times and there was not enough smoke to set off any smoke detectors! HOWEVER I had coarse grade steel wool so the circuits & smoke were far less significant. If you have FINE grade steel wool, do this experiment outside.
  • If you have young scientists--do this experiment as a demonstration (“I’m going to do it, and you get to watch!”)
  • If your scientists are older, they can do this experiment but make sure they are closely supervised.
  • The steel wool produces sparks & fire
  • The 9V battery will eventually get fairly warm to the touch.

Set-up:

  1. Pull apart your steel wool so that it is in a very thin layer
  2. Place the steel wool into your oven safe dish or container
  3. Place the battery and jug of water nearby.

Activity:

  1. Take time at the beginning of this experiment--whether you are doing it as a demonstration or young scientists are participating--to discuss safety.
  2. Ask scientists what they see. Invite them to feel the steel wool. What does it feel like? Does it remind them of anything?
  3. Explain that today you are going to make spooky sparks by creating circuits within the steel wool.
  4. Use the battery to gently touch down on the steel wool---watch as sparks fly through the steel wool creating a chemical reaction!
  5. Keep creating circuits! Eventually you will “use up” all the steel wool and the circuits won’t work anymore. Also be conscious of the battery warming up--it’s working hard!

The Science:

We are seeing a chemical reaction take place in this experiment, Anytime something burns, we are seeing a chemical reaction! This type of chemical reaction is called a combustion reaction.

You are seeing the steel wool react with oxygen and in this case it is forming iron oxide.

We were also seeing circuits at work! When both battery terminals touch the steel wool, the electrons from the battery move rapidly through the steel wool and make a complete circuit. This electrical current is heating up the wire (to ~700 degrees!) and this heat causes the iron to react with the oxygen surrounding the little strands of steel wool. This reaction is what causes the sparks (homeschoolscientist.com).

Bonus Activity: Fizzy Pumpkins

Materials Needed:

  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Red & yellow food coloring
  • Small piece of cardboard
  • Tray or cookie sheet/pan
  • Pipette or paintbrush
  • Small cup of vinegar

Set-up:

  1. Make your fizzy pumpkin!
    • Measure out about ½ a cup of baking soda into a bowl
    • Slooooowly add water until the baking soda comes together to form a moldable paste
    • Add yellow and red food coloring to make orange and mix together
    • Use your hands to shape the baking soda into a ball
    • Push in the piece of cardboard in the top to look like the stem of a pumpkin
  2. **You can either make your pumpkin immediately before doing your experiment, or make it the night/several hours before**
    • If you make it right before your pumpkin will be “mushy” but still hold its shape
    • If you make it hours before doing the experiment, the baking soda will dry out and become hard as a rock!

To set-up your experiment area, put the pumpkin on a plate or tray and set the cup of vinegar and pipette/paintbrush nearby.

Activity:

  1. Invite young scientists into the experiment area
  2. Ask them what they see!
  3. If you’d like, you can tell them they can carefully touch the pumpkin with one finger and guess how it was made/what material was used to make it.
  4. Introduce the vinegar and pipette/paintbrush and tell young scientists to carefully drip some vinegar onto their pumpkin
  5. What happens?!
  6. Keep playing until the pumpkin turns into pumpkin mush!

The Science:

This is a classic acid and base experiment. When vinegar (an acid) interacts with baking soda (a base) we get a chemical reaction. In this case we’re producing a gas (carbon dioxide) and lots of fun fizzing and bubbles!

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Spooky Science: Frankenstein's Hand and Fizzy Pumpkin Art

by Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

In this Spooky Science Video we make Frankenstein's "hand" come to life with a simple chemical reaction! We also demonstrated an art project using the same materials to make fizzy pumpkin art. Most of the materials for this project can be found at home, and though it's a bit messy, these are both activities that children can try on their own with just little help from a grown-up.

Frankenstein's Hand Experiment

Materials needed:

  • Cup
  • Disposable glove
  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice or vinegar
  • Tray or pan
  • Scoop or spoon

Set up:

Put all the materials on a tray or another surface that can get wet. This is a good activity to try outside for an easier clean up. The ingredients we are using are actually used for cleaning, which means they should not stain surfaces. A tray is best if you have one. If desired you can pour the lemon juice or vinegar into the cup ahead of time, or children can help with this step.

Experiment:

  • Place the cup on the tray, and fill it about ¼ of the way up with lemon juice or vinegar- this experiment works with either one
  • Use a spoon to place a few scoops of baking soda into the glove
  • Shake the glove so that the baking soda moves down to the fingertips
  • Carefully place the glove on top of the cup by stretching the elastic opening of the glove around the mouth of the cup- the fingertips should be hanging down still
  • Be sure there’s a tight seal between the glove and cup- if not, hold the glove in place
  • Tip the glove upright so that the baking soda drops down from the fingertips into the cup
  • Watch the glove! It should start to inflate quickly as the baking soda reacts with the lemon juice inside the cup

Optional Alternative way to do this experiment:

If you do not have a glove handy you can also do this same experiment with a balloon and a plastic bottle. First, draw a face on the balloon, so that when it expands you will have a funny face or monster face on your project. The rest of the steps are the same, except you are placing the baking soda in the balloon, and carefully attaching it to the top of the water bottle. The reaction will be the same as well- the balloon will magically inflate on its own! The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis shared a video of this version of the experiment: Monster Balloon Experiment. Another resource for this experiment comes from Scholastic: Fizzy Balloon Experiment

How does it work?

Lemon juice is acidic and baking soda is a base, and when acids and bases mix together, they fizz up! You created a chemical reaction inside the cup: you mixed together a liquid and a solid, and released a gas: carbon dioxide. When you add the baking soda to the lemon juice the gas starts to move out of the cup, but the glove is blocking it from escaping. The glove inflates from the gas, and will stay inflated while the reaction continues to happen. This experiment is fun because you can “see” the gas that’s created by trapping it inside the glove. Usually, we can’t see the gas that is released from a baking soda and vinegar (or lemon juice) experiment.

Fizzy Pumpkin Art

Materials:

  • Tray or placemat to work on
  • Orange food coloring or liquid watercolor (mix yellow and red to make orange if needed)
  • Lemon juice or vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Pipette or spoon
  • Pumpkin template- or draw your own with a permanent marker- works best on cardstock. Here are a few free printable pumpkin templates from FirstPallete.com: Medium Sized Pumpkin Template, Large Pumpkin Template

Set Up:

Place the pumpkin template on the tray or work surface. If you would like, use a permanent marker to draw a jack-o-lantern face on the pumpkin. Pour the lemon juice or vinegar into a cup and add the orange food coloring. If you do not have orange, mix red and yellow food coloring together to make it. Keep in mind that the color will become lighter when it mixes with the white baking soda. Spread a light layer of baking soda over the pumpkin image.

Activity Instructions:

  • Once everything is set up, use the pipette to add lemon juice to the pumpkin picture
  • You should see the baking soda on the pumpkin starting to fizz up! Continue to add lemon juice or vinegar until the fizzing stops
  • Let your project dry, and it will become a nice art project. If there is too much liquid on the picture, either use the pipette to remove some, or gently shake it off
  • Once dry, you can gently brush off any excess baking soda that is left.
  • This activity uses the same ingredients as the experiment, and the chemical reaction is the same. The only difference is that we added some color to the lemon juice or vinegar, so just keep in mind that this will need more clean up, and that food coloring may stain surfaces or clothing.

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Spooky Science: Bat Rockets

by Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

We did a mini rocket experiment for this Spooky Science video, and made a bat straw rocket. You can try both at home! For the mini bat rocket, it's important to have supervision and assistance from a grown up. This experiment uses medicine, and children should not try this without help from a grown up.

Bat Rocket Experiment:

Materials needed:

  • Alka seltzer or similar effervescent medicine
  • A film canister with a tight fitting lid
  • Water
  • Optional: a bat to add to your rocket. We used a laminated picture in the video

Set up:

Set up outside or use a tray indoors in an area that's easy to clean up

Experiment:

This experiment happens quickly! So make sure all eyes are on the rocket once the ingredients are inside.

Break off a piece of the alka seltzer and place it inside the film canister. Add water filling the container less than half way. Quickly replace the lid of the canister, and flip it over so that the lid is on the ground (or tray). Wait less than a minute, and the canister will launch into the air!

How does it work?

The alka seltzer mixes with water and creates bubbles. Another way to describe it is that a solid and a liquid mix together and create a gas. In the small canister there is only so much space for the water and the bubbles to fit, so the pressure from the bubbles pushes the canister up into the air! The bubbles are carbon dioxide gas, and as the gas is trying to escape and has nowhere to go, it pushes the lid off of the canister. Since the canister was placed upside down, the canister flies up into the air rather than the lid just flying off (that will happen if the canister is placed right side up!). This experiment is similar to a baking soda and vinegar experiment, and that's because some of the same ingredients are in the alka seltzer- citric acid and sodium bicarbonate.

Bat Straw Rocket Activity:

For a less messy version of bat rocket fun, try making a bat straw rocket!

Materials needed:

  • Cardstock
  • Bat template
  • Pipette
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Straw

Instructions:

  1. First, print the bat template on the cardstock, or use a permanent marker to draw a bat
  2. Color the bat in with markers or crayons, and cut it out
  3. Cut a pipette so that the larger end can be used for the rocket (the part you squeeze)
  4. Tape the pipette piece onto the back of the bat cut out
  5. Place the pipette piece onto a straw- this can be a reusable straw, paper straw, or plastic straw
  6. Blow into the straw with is angles slightly upward- the bat should "fly" off of the straw

How does it work?

The pipette piece is closed off at the top, so when you blow into the straw, the air has nowhere to go. The pressure from blowing into the straw makes the bat fly off the straw, and go through the air for a bit!

We first learned about this activity from Bug and Buddy, and they have a free printable bat template that can be used for this project. There are also some great pictures of the process to make the rockets, and a video. See the link in the reference section below! This activity involves pressure and forces similar to the bat rocket experiment, but it is less messy and can be tried over and over again. Have fun!

References:

https://www.imaginationstationtoledo.org/education-resources/diy-activities/alka-seltzer-rockets/

https://buggyandbuddy.com/flying-bat-straw-rockets/

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Everyone Counts!

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By Paula Rais, CMNH VP of Development and Community Engagement

Once every 10 years, the US Constitution mandates that every person in the United States is counted. Census data guide how more than $675 billion of federal funding is distributed to states and communities for schools and education, healthcare and services for families, children and older adults. The results of the census also inform funding decisions for programs like Head Start, SNAP, and Medicaid. Young children are often undercounted, which can affect important programs in your community.


Make sure you and your family get counted! Find out how here >>

The Census Bureau is required by law to protect your information; so all your answers are confidential and private.

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FoodWorks - Fall Harvest Snacks Featuring Apples

by Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

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September is a great time of year to make the most of the summer harvest, and to start enjoying classic fall flavors. For the September Food Works recipes, we tried two different kid-friendly apple recipes. The Food Works program is a partnership between Hannaford Supermarkets and the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire that allows us to share healthy, family friendly recipes!

Today we are sharing two recipes for Fall treats: Apple “Donuts” and Healthy Caramel Yogurt Dip. Both recipes are easy to make, and are perfect for making the most of healthy and tasty fall apples! The caramel yogurt dips tastes so much like real caramel, and it’s made from yogurt with less sugar and fat than a typical caramel dip. The apple donuts allow kids to choose their own toppings for apples, and can add a few other food groups and some protein to a healthy after school snack.

Both of these recipes allow kids to take part in creating them, but it is helpful if a grownup does most of the prep work, especially cutting up the apples. For the Apple “Donuts” you will need apples, yogurt or nut butter, and various toppings such as fruit, nuts, and granola. For the Caramel Yogurt Dip you will need yogurt, maple syrup, brown sugar, salt and vanilla extract.

APPLE “DONUTS*

**note, these are NOT donuts, and you can always opt to call them something else if this will cause confusion and/or require you to provide real donuts out of thin air! We have also seen these called “apple cookies,” but this could create a similar problem with kids! Apple Frisbees?? You decide on the best name!!

  1. Core apples, and cut into slices so that the shape is similar to a donut with a hole in the middle
  2. Prep toppings ahead: blueberries, raspberries, chocolate chips, granola, nuts, and set up for kids to portion out
  3. Prep yogurt for kids to spread with a spoon or spatula
  4. Use the yogurt to “frost” the apple donut. You can also use a nut butter of your choice, or both
  5. Add the toppings to the apple donut, and enjoy! These can be stored in the fridge, but are best eaten fresh

A variety of other ideas for this recipe from the Food Network: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/apple-donuts-3838711

HEALTHY CARAMEL YOGURT DIP

(Makes about 1 cup)

Ingredients:

One container yogurt (We used So Delicious coconut milk yogurt) (170g)
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. Put maple syrup, salt and brown sugar in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high in 10-second intervals until brown sugar starts to dissolve (If you do not have a microwave, heat in a small saucepan until sugar dissolves—or you can skip this step and just add the additional ingredients!)
  2. Stir in vanilla extract and yogurt
  3. Allow to cool
  4. This will get thicker if you leave it in the fridge overnight
  5. Slice apples to dip in the caramel dip and enjoy!
  6. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to four days.

Original Source: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com

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Witchway Games & Eric Streed

Q&A with Artist and Game Designer Eric Streed

Q. How do you start making board games?=

A. I would start by playing lots of different board games! Find out what kind of games you like, and what about those games you enjoy. Is it the theme? Do you like drafting cards? Do you like worker placement? What parts of those game maximize on that sort or play?

After you’ve started thinking about those questions, start small. Make an “expansion” to a game you already know and love. Change a rules set, or get some cheap custom cards made for it. See how the rules you change or the elements you implement add to or subtract from the game.

Game design is a skill that takes practice to get better at, your first game is not going to be perfect. Instead of perfect, focus on “Done”. The artist Jake Parker spreads the message “finished, not perfect”. This idea encourages to complete a project, and then start the next one and make it even better. Consider the table presence of the game you want to make, think of that peak moment you want to give a player, and build towards that.

Q. How did you start making board games?

A. I went to school for art, focusing on video game design. I worked for animation studios and on independent video games for a while but found the process slow and unfulfilling. I ended up co-founding a small company a few years after college and got involved making board games and immediately saw a shift. I could quickly hold my game in my hands and play it with other people. The efficiency, community, and tactile nature of board and card games really rekindled my love of game design.

Q. What is the hardest part of making board games?

A. For me the hardest part of game design is iterating. I get an idea, work with people to iron out the details, do the art for the game, get a prototype made up, and start playtesting, only to start finding issues in the design. This is a super normal part of the design process, no game is going to work perfectly right out the gate. This is the piece of the puzzle that gets very granular though, where you are fiddling with numbers, changing rules occasionally, altering the setup and win conditions. This is a crucial piece of the design process, but its also challenging as it also takes the most time.

Q. What resources are there out there for aspiring board game designers?

A. There are lots of great resources for game designers out there! There are social media groups, there are cheap game design kits available online, I’ve even hand cut cards and drawn on them for perfectly functional prototypes. After you have spent a little time making some handmade prototypes or printing some small assets for an expansion to a game you like, using a company like The Game Crafter is a great way to step up your designs and create some really beautiful production quality copies of your game.

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CMNH To Re-Open in September

Paula Cmnhfrontdesk

We are excited to announce our reopening to the public in September after a nearly six-month closure due to COVID-19. “During this unprecedented time of stress and hardship, we hope that reopening the Museum brings joy and a hint of normalcy to the lives of children, families and the community,”said Jane Bard, Museum President. “We recognize that there is still much uncertainty, and that some families might not be ready for in-person experiences like visiting a Museum. For those families, we are committed to continue offering virtual programming and learning resources through our social media channels,” said Bard. “For families ready to return, we look forward to welcoming you back!”

The Museum’s plan for reopening is a phased approach, and initially CMNH will open to their members only on Thursday – Saturday, September 3rd - 5th, and two timed-ticket entry sessions each day from 9 am - 11:30am and 1pm - 3:30 pm. Maximum occupancy for each session will be capped at 50 visitors, which is 10% of CMNH’s building capacity. All visitors must pre-register for their visit online. Online registration can be done one week in advance. Beginning in October, the Museum plans to offer two-hour private Museum rentals to groups of up to 50 people on Sundays.

“As we prepare to open our doors, we feel it is important to share the steps we are taking to keep our guests and employees safe,”said Bard. “We’ve always taken pride in providing a safe, clean, and accessible environment. During our closure, we’ve been preparing to reopen implementing best practices set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Association of Children’s Museums, and the New Hampshire Reopening Guidelines.”

These safety guidelines include:

  • Physically distancing - There are occupancy limits posted for each exhibit, (usually one family at a time), floor decals and dinosaur footprints guiding visitors on the one-way flow of traffic around the Museum.
  • Face coverings - All visitors over the age of 24 months and all staff must wear a face covering over their mouth and nose at all times in the Museum. We will offer a once-monthly after-hours session for visitors who cannot wear a mask due to medical reasons. For September that date and time is Sunday, September 27th from 10am-noon. If you wish to visit during that date/time, please email neva@childrens-museum.org.
  • Frequent hand washing and sanitizing - The Museum has 17 hand-sanitizing stations and 12 sinks for hand-washing spaced throughout the building.
  • Ventilation - we have increased the air rate of exchange in our building to maximum levels and will keep windows open when possible to maximize air flow
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces - Museum staff will perform a deep clean in between each timed sessions, disinfecting all surfaces and replacing all exhibit props with a new sanitized set. Some exhibits have been modified and items that are difficult to sanitize or that touch a visitor’s face or head have been removed. Disinfectant wipes will be placed strategically around the Museum for visitor use, and staff will continually clean high-touch surfaces during the day.
  • Staying home if you are sick - The Museum asks that all visitors and staff stay home if they are sick or experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19. We are happy to reschedule visits if necessary. All Museum staff will answer health screening questions and take their temperature prior to each work day.

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FoodWorks: Healthy Frozen Treats

Foodworks is such a fun program that we host at The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. It promotes healthy eating, families cooking together, and delicious food that you can find at your neighborhood Hannaford!

Today we are sharing two recipes for summer time treats: Frozen Yogurt Bark and Frozen Watermelon Popsicles. Both recipes are easy to make, and are perfect cold treats for hot summer days! Summer is a great time to enjoy ice cream and popsicles, but these two recipes offer a slightly lower sugar and lower fat way to enjoy a cold dessert, and could easily be added to your summer frozen dessert routine, which we all need when it's this hot outside!

Both of these recipes only require a freezer to complete, and both are kid-friendly, so if you have eager kitchen helpers in your family, this is a great way to include everyone in some no fail cooking fun. Also, you do not need popsicle molds to make the Watermelon Popsicles!

If you want to try both recipes, it may be easier to make the yogurt bark first because the watermelon can get messy, and may be easiest to do outside. If you opt to use cookie cutters for the watermelon recipe it results in some extra pieces that need to be eaten, so this activity can double as a snack time.

First - gather your ingredients

For the frozen watermelon popsicles:

  • Watermelon- If you need a smaller portion, try the pre-cut watermelon at Hannaford
    Skewers, chopsticks, or popsicle sticks
  • Cookie cutters

For the yogurt bark:

  • Plain yogurt
  • Vanilla yogurt
  • Optional: coconut or soy based yogurt

Optional toppings:

  • Berries
  • Granola
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Jam
  • Cereal

For both:

  • Wax paper
  • Pan or tray
  • Freezer space

Yogurt Bark Directions:

  1. Prep your pan or tray by putting down a sheet of waxed paper and a quick spray of cooking oil.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of plain and 1 cup of vanilla yogurt to create a lower sugar, kid-friendly version of the bark, or simply choose a yogurt flavor you know your family will enjoy
  3. Add in any toppings you would like to add
  4. You can add the toppings to the yogurt once it’s on the tray if you would like to make some bark with toppings, and some plain
  5. Use a spoon or spatula to carefully add the yogurt to the waxed paper on the tray
  6. Place the tray in the freezer for about 4 hours or overnight
  7. Break up the bark to serve. You can save it in a freezer safe container.

Notes: we tried making the bark with soy based yogurt, and coconut based yogurt, both froze well, and were easy to break up and serve. We used Greek yogurt, and it made a tart treat, but be sure to use any yogurt that your family prefers. The Greek yogurt was nice and thick, so it froze well, but any yogurt should work! Please keep in mind that some of the toppings, like the berries, may create a greater risk of choking when frozen, so be sure to supervise as needed. Recipe inspired by Stonyfield Yogurt: Stonyfield Yogurt Bark Recipe

Frozen Watermelon Popsicle Directions:

  1. Prep a pan or tray with waxed paper
  2. Cut watermelon into slices- about the same thickness as you would serve to eat fresh
  3. If children are helping, set each person up with a work station- a cutting board or tray with waxed paper works well
  4. Use cookie cutters to press the watermelon into desired shape (we made stars, triangles, and circles), and remove seeds with a skewer or toothpick
  5. Carefully add a stick using a skewer (can be sharp), chopstick, or popsicle stick
  6. Place each popsicle on the lined tray and place in the freezer
  7. The extra watermelon scraps can be eaten as snack
  8. Serve any time you want a healthy refreshing treat!

Notes: This may be the easiest recipe ever aside from a little messy watermelon juice. Creating shapes with cookie cutters is completely optional- you can simply put the watermelon onto the skewer with the rind if you would like. The texture of the watermelon works really well as a frozen treat! It is very similar to the texture of an ice pop- easy to take a bite, though quite cold when it first comes out the freezer. If you opt to use popsicle sticks, use the wooden, un-dyed sticks. Colorful craft sticks tend to bleed the dye when wet, and it may not be food safe! We experimented with adding some melted chocolate chips over a few of the watermelon slices, and it tasted great, but was just a little messier to eat. Recipe reference: https://www.chopchopfamily.org/recipe/frozen-watermelon-popsicles/

We hope you enjoy these refreshing summer treats, and stay cool! Thank you to Hannaford for sponsoring our Foodworks program at CMNH!

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