June 26, 2013

Playing with Potions

Mixing things with water to make potions of various sorts is a winning activity with most children.

Some basic potion making supplies you might want to make available to your children are:
  • baking powder
  • baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • vinegar
  • salt
  • sugar
  • flour
  • coffee\tea
  • dishwashing liquid
  • dried herbs and spices (if you have expired ones)
  • leaves and flowers from the garden
  • food colouring
  • water
  • spoons
  • bowls or jars
  • ice-cube tray
  • eyedroppers or pipettes or even a turkey baster

If you let your children free with these materials it will fire up their imaginations and they will make a glorious mess and you will end up with a special soup.

But there are a few more structured potion making experiences you might want to try …
  • colour mixing potions – use food colouring and water.
  • colour changing potions – for this you will need to make some purple cabbage juice by roughly chopping a quarter of a red cabbage and covering it with boiling water for 15 – 20 minutes.  Purple cabbage juice is an acid-base indicator.  It will turn pink/red in the prescence of acids and green/blue in the prescence of bases.  Your children can then test various household powders and liquids to find out if they are acids or bases, as my sons did in the movie below. 
  • will it dissolve? potions – give your children a variety of powders (salt, sugar, flour, tea, coffee) to mix with water.  Get them to predict which things will disappear in water. 
  • will it mix? potions – give your children liquids of different densities to create potions (for example, honey, oil, water, dishwashing liquid).  These liquids will create layered potions (see the Seven Layer Density Column).  You can also make some fun effects with these ingredients as we did when we made a salt volcano.
Potions safety tips:
  1. Supervise!
  2. Use edible ingredients (edible, not necessarily tasty).  Use non-edible ingredients (like dishwashing liquid) with care – see #3.
  3. Don’t let your children mix things together if you don’t know what will happen (for example, when we played with purple cabbage indicator we tested washing powder.  I would not then let my children mix washing powder with the other ingredients because I don’t know which things might react with washing powder.)
NB: These movies were made using Vine.

1 comment:

Susan Stephenson said...

Loved seeing those little movies of your apprentice scientists there! (I'd seen about Vine too, but lacked the time to play, plus 6 seconds seemed not much use to me. But it definitely added a cool dimension to this post.)