What better way to start off our STEAM Thursday series than with some good ole vinegar science? Vinegar science posts are a dime a dozen, but hopefully some of what we did will inspire new ideas of how you can take your basic activity to extend it further.
A couple of basic supplies that we’ll be using in many of our STEAM activities are a set of plastic beakers, and plastic pipettes. I ordered them off of Amazon – here are your affiliate links to help you set up your science supply shelf!
Some other items I recommend you picking up are some plastic trays (they are fabulous for any craft activities) – I got these cute heart shaped ones we’re using for this activity over at Dollar Tree. We also have some fabulous activity trays that I got from Lakeshore, and I’ve heard that some Walmart stores carry similar trays. If you’re looking for a quick order off of Amazon, here’s a great set.
For this activity, you’ll also need vinegar, baking soda, and food coloring. We also used paper towels. The lab coat is of course optional – I used to sell Pampered Chef cooking products, so my chef’s coat is now her lab coat / painter’s smock. 🙂
You can make this as basic or as complex as you want. Here she’s doing the first steps – I put vinegar in two beakers, and she decided she wanted to make green, so we did blue and yellow. She stirred the coloring in with her pipette, and then squeezed some of each color over into the smaller one to make green. Talk about good hand-eye coordination and fine motor skill work! It took a bit of practice to get the colored vinegar to move, but she go the hang of it fairly quickly!
Then we took our tray, and made three baking soda mountains. She enjoyed squeezing the colored vinegar onto the baking soda and seeing the colored bubbles!
So that was where my intentions for the project ended. The rest is all Becca. And that’s the beautiful thing about having an open science experiment time with your kiddos. LET THEM LEAD. They’ll take you amazing places.
First, she decided that she wanted to dump ALL the vinegar into the tray. Talk about big bubbles and lots of giggles!!! The whole heart turned green, and she was super excited. Then, she drew in the remaining baking soda with a pipette. So suddenly we were doing art in our science experiment.
Then, she discovered that the pipettes float! But, if you fill them up and then put them in, they sink. And, when I used a paper towel to clean up a spill, she thought it was awesome that part of the paper towel was yellow, part was blue, and then where they touched, they were green. And then, the paper towel fell into the tray. And thus began the TRUE experiment portion of our science time. She loved watching the water soak into the towel, so we folded paper towels with different amounts of folds to see which would take the longest to soak up the water. And then we stood up a paper towel in the water and she learned the words “capillary action” in regards to how trees take water in through their roots and the water spreads upward through the tree like the water spread upward through the paper towel. I never expected my 2 1/2 year old to be able to repeat “capillary action” to her Daddy and explain it’s “like the trees getting water from the ground”… but ya know, I never expected lots of things when it comes to Becca. She’s definitely my little science expert. I’m so curious to see what career path she will choose some day. Whatever she does, she’s gonna be amazing.
I hope that this, the first of many STEAM activities for the year, will inspire you to get into the kitchen (or dining room as the case may be) and start experimenting with your kiddos. And don’t be afraid to let them lead you to a place you didn’t plan to go. Because they might just be ready to learn about capillary action, too. Or not. Let them lead… and be prepared to follow. (But don’t worry, if they lead you to a place where you don’t know all the answers… that’s what the internet is for!) 🙂