This week we put to the test some of those fun activities we mentioned to try at home. We microwaved Peeps and Cadbury eggs to observe the effect of heat on different substances. The air in the marshmallow moves faster, and therefore tries to take up more space, making the marshmallow expand. The sugary solution inside the Cadbury egg experiences a similar effect, causing the chocolate shell to burst along the seams.

Speaking of breaking some eggs, we learned a bit about architecture and why arches and columns might be seen on buildings. We tested our own, starting with columns. We made rolled paper to make four columns and then tested how many books our four pieces of paper could hold. The columns easily held ten books. Then we trimmed our columns to make little bases to hold eggs. Alternatively, we could have cleaned out the egg shells and filed the edges to even them out to make four arches, but we wanted the fun of the mess. Once our eggs were held, we started piling books on top. The eggs only held five books, but we think it had more to do with the eggs not quite being even on the columns then the strength of the egg shell. Some of the kids decided to adopt a few survivors, designing carriers to help protect them and giving them faces. The last remaining egg from the dozen is soaking in vinegar to lose its shell, as the acid eats away at the calcium carbonate.

The kids had a great time making jelly bean mosaics. We looked at some of the images from the Jelly Belly collection, then created our own. We had some abstract designs and a team that chose to cover a whole sheet of paper. One student made a rainbow, carefully picking out the jelly beans of the right color. Another group of students made a castle.

We dissected plants, seeing the inside of the stem and flower, noting the stamen and pollen. We explored some seeds and bulbs, comparing to two and discussing some bulbs that we eat. After dissecting the plants, we then started an herb garden with the students, hoping to watch them sprout.

As we had some leftover supplies, we then made ice cream with the students. Students asked why we add salt to ice, when salt is sometimes used to melt ice on roads. How would that help to make ice cream? First, we have to know that milk and the ice cream mixture freezes at a lower temperature then water. So if we just used ice, the milk wouldn’t get cold enough. Plus, that ice is melting because of the surrounding air. The melting is key, because that is where the salt comes into play. Salt water freezes at a lower temperature than regular water. Which means when we put salt on the ice on the roads, it’s harder to refreeze because it now needs a colder temperature to freeze. But when it comes to ice cream, this salt water ice mix will be colder than just ice. Try it yourself to see. You can feel the temperature difference.

The second point we discussed is agitation. We need to shake the ice cream mixture to add air bubbles and ensure a more even freeze. This means the quality of your ice cream, and the speed at which it turns into ice cream depends on you and your ability to move it around. Whether dancing with your ice cream, tossing it with a friend, or just simply shaking it, you have to put in some effort to create the change.