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Roger Weller, geology instructor                     

Science Experiments
Josefa V. MacHott
Physical Geology
Fall 2006


Caution!  Young Scientist Uploading Fun & Fascinating Info into Brain System!


     Children are fascinated by the smallest things.  My 3 children loved to pick up rocks, pebbles, sticks, buttons, and small pieces of hardware (bolts and screws) on road trips.  They put their little treasures into sandwich bags, small jars, tin cans, and shoe boxes.  My son, Brian has a dream to become a “Geologist.”  The rocks I have attached to my project are all part of his collection.   Brian is very organized with his rocks.  He has the smaller rocks in compartment plastic boxes and he labels the compartments with the rock names.  He started a file box with index cards containing info on some of his rocks about 2 years ago.  On trips he uses paper bags, sandwich bags and shoe boxes to store his rocks until he gets home.  On our last road trip we went rock hunting and he came home with quite a collection of rocks.  He also loves to experiment with food in our kitchen.  We’ve even used rocks to keep stew hot when camping but be careful some rocks are not safe so don’t put any in your stew

                                                                                                                  (fig 1.)

Kitchen laboratory


     Get the Kids and let’s head for the “Kitchen Laboratory.”  Your kitchen at is a well-equipped laboratory.   It has measuring instruments, a supply of water, a heat source for speeding up reactions and sterilizing instruments. 

     Both cooks and scientists separate, measure, and heat different substances.  They cook with chemicals, though to a cook sodium chloride is salt and tartaric acid is cream of tartar.   Scientist produce information and record it in logs and reference books and cooks record info by putting recipes into cookbooks.


Experimenting with food


     When you sit down for your next meal, try to figure out where the food on your plate came from.  Often the food on your plate does not resemble the animals and plants they come from.   Many changes in food take place before it reaches our home.  Chemicals are added to some foods to keep them fresh and last longer.  Some are canned; dried or frozen to keep harmful bacteria from making them unfit to eat.  On the other hand, the growth of certain bacteria and other microorganisms is important in the preparation of foods such as bread, cheese, yogurt, and vinegar.

     Cooking changes food still further.  Heat makes some food softer and some other food firmer.  It changes the color of many foods.  Different flavors blend when heated together.  Heat destroys harmful bacteria and makes certain foods easier to digest.  It is easy to produce changes in food.  Producing changes is what science is all about.  Make sure that you read the Recipe experiments carefully, get organized and make sure that you have all the equipment and ingredients needed before you start preparing a recipe. 

     There are certain standards of procedures for safety and use of equipment for every laboratory, and you kitchen is not an exception.  Consult the cook in your house before you start an experiment in your kitchen and ask about any procedure or terms you are not certain about.

     Here’s my favorite, for the next experiment we need spaghetti, spaghetti sauce with meatballs.   This was part of our Volcano work sheet by my Amazing Cool Geology Instruction, Roger Weller.  Please notice these reactions as the spaghetti is cooked and the sauce and meatballs cook and make-believe it’s magna from a volcano.


Weller’s Spaghetti Theory of Magma (Use your imagination):

    Spaghetti- silica chains (makes magna viscous)

    Meatballs-cations (makes magma fluid)

                      Ca, Mg, Fe, Al, K, Na, etc.

    Sauces-dissolved gasses (makes magma fluid.)

                      Carbon dioxide, steam, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrochloric acid, chlorine, hydrofluoric acid, fluorine, etc




Solutions (Book: Science Experiments You Can Eat by Vicki Cobb)


     Matter is anything that has weight and takes up space; all things in the universe are made up of matters.  In nature, most matter is found mixed with other matter.  There is, as you can imagines, almost no end to the kinds of mixtures is a solution.  A sugar and water mixture is an example of solutions. 
Solutions are very important in the study of matter.  You can often find out what substance is by the solvent in which it dissolves and by how much of it will dissolve.  Many chemical reactions take place in solutions that will not takes place otherwise.  Here’s an experiment you can eat later.


Rock Candy, Recovering Solute Crystals


     It is not difficult to perform the reverse of making a sugar solution and separate the solvent from the solute.  It is especially easy to recover the solute if you don’t care about keeping the solvent.   Leave a water solution open to air and the solvent will evaporate and leave the solute behind.  You can evaporate all kinds of the solutions in a shallow dish so that a large surface is exposed to the air.

     Some solutes form crystals as the solvent evaporates.  Crystals are solids that have a regular geometric shape, with many sides or faces.  Some crystals of common substances are shown in this picture.  In this experiment you will be growing rock candy sugar crystals you can eat.


Materials and Equipment:

Water, ½ cup                                         A small saucepan

Granulated sugar, 1 cup                      A measuring cup

A measuring cup                                   A wooden spoon

Some small shallow dishes (aluminum foil dishes work well)



    Put the water in the pan.  Put a spoonful of sugar in the water and stir.  Use a wooden spoon so that the spoon handle won’t get hot later.  Continue to add a spoonful of sugar at a time, stirring after each addition until it dissolves.  How many spoonfuls before the sugar stops dissolving no matter how much you stir?  This solution is now said to be a saturated solution.  Put a low flame under the saturated solution for a few minutes.  Do the crystals dissolve when you heat the water?

    Turn off the heat.  Add sugar again, spoonful by spoonful to the hot solution.  Does it take more sugar to make a saturated solution in hot water than it does in colder water?  Pour all the remaining sugar from the measuring cup into the pan.  Turn the flame on again and continue heating gently until all the sugar is dissolved.  Bring it to a boiling point and boil for about a minute.  The solution should be thick and clear and contain no sugar crystals.  Pour the solution into the small dishes while it is hot.



    Watch the solution as it cools.  Be careful not to jolt it or disturb it in any way.  Does the solution remain clear?  If it becomes cloudy, take a close look at it with a magnifying glass.  A clear solution that contains more solute than would normally dissolve at that temperature is said to be supersaturated.  Supersaturated solutions are very unstable and the slightest disturbances will cause crystals to form, removing them from solutions.

     Some candy, like fudge, depends on the formation of millions of tiny crystals.  Small crystals form quickly when you beat a super saturated sugar solution.  For rock candy, you want to grow large crystals.  Large crystals grow slowly, over a period of weeks.  Let the solution stand undisturbed at room temperature for a week or more.  As water continues to evaporate, the solutions will remain supersaturated and crystals will grow.  After a few days, you might have to break and carefully remove the crust of crystals that forms at the surface so that water can continue to evaporate.

    Rock candy crystals will form around any small object you put in the solution.  Hang a weighted string in a glass of supersaturated sugar solution to see where crystals form.  You can make rock candy lollipops by putting swizzle sticks in a glass of solution.

     Crystals are interesting because they are a very pure form of matter and a clue to the structure of the substance.  Scientists figure that the perfect shape of crystals is not an accident but is the result of a regular arrangement of particles too small to see.  Matter is made of particles, called atoms and molecules.  After you have grown some sugar crystals, compare them with crystals of granulated sugar. (Use a magnifying glass.)  Are the crystals you have grown larger or smaller than granulated sugar?  Are the same shape? 

Let’s Make Some Turbulence! (by Roger Weller)


1 Baby Food Jar                       1 ounce of dirt                      

½ Cup of Water                         1 ounce of sand


  1. Fill baby food jar with dirt, sand and water.  
  2. Tighten lid on jar; make sure it’s screwed on tight.
  3. Shake Jar vigorously and watch the Turbulence go round and round and round.
  4. Now stop watch the dirt and sand settle at the bottom.


                                                   (fig.3)                          (fig. 4)                        (fig. 5)                          fig. 6)

Observation:  When you shake the jar you see the turbulence that happens under water in a river.   By using the white sand you can see the white sand grains spinning with the dirt in the water a lot clearer.  Once you stop, the sand and dirt settles at the bottom of the jar, just like it would underwater in a river.




Space Mud - (Play Dough):

Ingredients:  1 Cup of Salt             4 Cups of Flour            3 Cups Boiling Water

5 Tablespoons of Table Tartar      ¼ Cup Vegetable Oil    2 Tsp of Food Coloring

1 Large Mixing Bowl                       1 wooden stirrer or spoon for mixing

Small plastic toys (optional to make fossils)



  1. Put the salt, flour and cream of tartar into the bowl and mix well.
  2. Slowly add the oil and half of the water, then mix.
  3. Mix in the food coloring and the rest of water.
  4. Let the mixture cool until you can comfortably handle it.
  5. Knead the mixture until dough is formed.
  6. Take a small ball of space mud, pat flat about ½ inch thick, take a small plastic toy and gently push it into the space mud.  Carefully remove the toy and let the toy fossil dry.  You have created your own toy space fossil.  When you find real fossils you find the remains of life that once existed.  Sometimes the only thing left is the impression of that life a long time ago.


Indian Necklaces (Indians used rocks with holes, fossils, and clay beads.
(Make believe your macaroni beads are Indian clay beads.)

(Dye macaroni at least 3 days ahead of time to dry out completely.)



Easter egg dye (or food coloring)                       1 Tbsp alcohol (to 6oz of water)

Macaroni (1 package per 30 necklaces)             Wax Paper

Yarn pieces 32 inches in length                          Tape 2 inches-wide                                                                                                        

Plastic Beads with large holes (optional)           Buttons (make believe fossils)                        

Small paper cut-outs of fossils and arrowheads

Calculator (optional)


1.       Mix food coloring or dye, alcohol and hot water, stir to blend.

2.       Break macaroni pieces in half to make smaller beads. 

3.       Soak macaroni at least 3 minutes to set color in. 

4.        Drain and set on wax paper to dry. 

5.       Tape-tape on end of yarn and roll tape around tip of yarn, making an imaginary needle to thread beads. 

6.       Thread approximately 18 half pieces of beads, buttons, and paper cut-outs and tie thread ends to complete necklace.

7.       Opt.  Lay out your items in the order for beading.  On a piece of paper write the number of beads they start with. Have the kids keep a record of how much they take out and how much they add in.    Every time you are adding write that number down.  Every time you subtract beads write the number down.  When their necklace is completed they should have a scientific mathematical calculation of the work put into their necklace.   With a calculator, have them add and subtract the numbers, like scientist they have recorded information and completed a scientific calculation.


Brian's Rock Collection

     Like children, minerals have many different characteristics and unique properties.  Children have a variety of cute faces with different colors of eyes and hair.   The minerals, Pyrite and Gold, appear the same, but gold is worth a lot of money, whereas, pyrite “fool’s gold” has little value.  Minerals differ in hardness, luster, color, streak, and cleavage.  When little 3 year old Devon hears the word “rock.”  His first reaction is to throw the rocks in the water and watch them rippleIf there is no water, then throwing them and observing where they end up is just as much fun!  


                                                            (fig. 7)                                                              (fig 8)

     How do we use rocks?  Rocks are very useful for buildings and landscaping such as the boulder that is serving seating space for Brian, Devon, and Adam, This large piece of flagstone makes an ideal bench in the garden.  Instead of grass the lawn has fragments of different types of rocks, mostly gravel, common in the desert area due to water shortages. The desert is like no other land on the amazing earth.  It covers 1/5 of the earth and gets less than 10inches of rain in a year. Rock collecting is also, a great hobby.  Brian has collected the following rocks over a period of time.  These are only a few from his collection.  The beautiful rock in figure 9 has different minerals in it. The red is cuprite, green is malachite, and the blue is azurite; last, but not least, is the native copper.


                                     (fig. 9) Several Minerals in 1      (fig. 10) Volcano Lava Rock      (fig. 11) Geodes


                                     (fig. 12) Black Obsidian           (fig. 13) Green Fluorite         (fig. 14) Arizona Petrified Wood


                                    (fig. 15) Native Copper              (fig 16) Gypsum Rose             (fig 17) Red Granite


                                  (fig. 18)Petrified Wood w/crystals   (fig 19.)Pyrite Fool’s Gold    (fig. 20) oops! amethyst


A few tips on collecting rocks.  Put your rocks in individual Ziploc bags to protect them. If you know the identity of your rock make sure that you mark the bag or put the info in the bag.  Rocks are so fascinating and adults and children have a curiosity and the rocks will get mixed up once out of the bags. This will save time on reclassifying your rocks.  Kids can use plastic or paper bags, tin cans, egg cartons and plastic boxes to store rocks.   Egg cartons make great showcase displays for a child’s collection.


                                            (fig 16) Rocks ID on Box top   (fig 17) Tin can with rocks       (fig 18) Rocks in Plastic bags


Rock Exhibits are a good resource to adding rocks to your collection.  The box of pre-packed rocks is from the annual Elks’ Rock Exhibit in Sierra Vista, Arizona.  The Vendor took time to mark the rock names on the box lid for my son, Brian.  My son still has a collection of rocks that needs to be classified.  He remembers the names of most of them.  I see a special sparkle in his eyes when he spots a new rock for his collection on a trail, and the next time you see a small child putting pebbles in their pocket, keep a thought in mind that the child could be a future geologist.


References for education purpose only:

1)  Science Experiments You Can Eat by Vicki Cobb/ Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data/A Harper Trophy Book/Harper & Row Publishers

2)  Glencoe Earth Science/ Glencoe McGraw-Hill (7th grade text)

3) The Question and Answer Book /All about Deserts by John Sanders.

4) The Question and Answer Book/Rocks & Minerals by Elizabeth Marcus

Web site references:

1)       www.cochise.geology




Fun Science reading material for kids

1)  Paper Airplanes to Make and Fly by Jim Razzi/Published by Scholastic, Inc. 

        (Ages 5-13)

2)  Science Experiments You Can Eat by Vicki Cobb/ Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data/A Harper Trophy Book/Harper & Row Publishers (intermediate level)

3)  Science with Magnets by Helen Edom/Usborne Publishing Ltd, London England

4)  The Question and Answer Book/Set of Troll Science Books/copyright 1983 by Troll Associates (Pre-school through Primary level)

     Air Air Air by Lawrence Jeffries

     All About Animal Migrations by John Sanders

     All About Trees by Jane Dickinson

     Amazing Magnets by David Adler

     Amazing World of Animals by Lawrence Jeffries

     Amazing World of Planets by Elizabeth Marcus

     All About Deserts by John Sanders

     All About Islands by Wendy Rydell

     All About Ponds by Jane Rockwell

     All About Rivers by Jane Emil

     All About Sound by David Knight

     All About the Moon by David Adler

     All About Mountains & Volcanoes by Elizabeth Marcus

     All About the Stars by Lawrence Jeffries

     Our Amazing Ocean by David Adler

     Our Amazing Sun by Richard Adams

     Our Wonderful Seasons by Elizabeth Marcus

     Our Wonderful Solar System by Richard Adams

     Rocks and Minerals by Elizabeth Marcus

     Wonders of Energy by David Adler

     Wonders of Water by Jane Dickinson

     World of Weather by David Adler


Websites for Kids:

 #1) Amazing Cool Geology Website is:



  5)  http://www.kidsgov/k_science.htm