Send Water Traveling This Summer
It’s that time of year again when families start planning their summer travels. Whether you are visiting us at the Discovery Center of Idaho or trekking to a foreign land – scientific adventure is to be had!
But did you know that water also travels?
Discover the science behind traveling water so you can watch water travel in between some summer trips of your own.
Scientific Secrets of Traveling Water
Traveling water requires three scientific principles: cohesion, adhesion, and gravity. Through a chemical bond, water is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. These three atoms bond together to form water. When more than one molecule of water gets together, they bond, too. This is the process of cohesion. Adhesion, on the other hand, has to do with those water molecules staying together once they bond. As you know, water drips, which means it isn’t as adhesive as it is cohesive. Otherwise it would stay together no matter what. Now for gravity’s role in making water travel. Water uses gravity to its advantage to be able to travel more rapidly.
Send Water Traveling!
OK now it’s time to see this process in action and watch water travel. For this, we have a science experiment that you can do at home with simple items and inspiration by Steve Spangler Science.
You will need:
- 2 clear drinking glasses
- Food coloring
- 2-foot piece of string or thin yarn, light colors work best
- Masking tape or duct tape
1. Begin by filling one of the drinking glasses with water. Add your preference of food color to dye your water. Choose a darker color, preferably one that shows up well against the color of string you are using.
2. Take the empty glass and one end of the string. Affix the end of the string inside the bottom of the glass using tape. Make sure the string is attached by gently pulling on it.
Place the glass with the string in the bottom on a hard surface.
3. Hold the glass with colored water and the other end of the string in each of your hands above the other glass.
4. Very carefully pour the water from the glass onto the loose end of the string. Hold the string taut during this process for best results.
5. Slowly pour the water so that it travels along the string and into the glass.
6. See how long it takes you to fill up the empty glass with your traveling water.
Continue the experiment using various liquids and types of string to see how well your water travels. Water experiments are just one of the super awesome ways the Discovery Center of Idaho can bring a little science into your home.
6 Fun Science Activities You Can Do With Your Kids at Home
Trying to teach your kids a science lesson over summer or for at home classes? Don't worry, because there are plenty of at-home science experiments that can teach kids a lot without requiring too much work (or deep pockets). Let's talk about some of our favorites and how they work.
The great thing about this experiment is that kids can learn a lot about density and how it works at the kitchen counter...and then drink the experiments when you are through! All you need is a clear glass and then a drop or baster to insert liquid at different levels. Discuss how and why various fruit juices have different densities, and you have an ideal science lesson! The specific experiment we cited suggested pomegranate, orange, and white grape juice, but you have many other choices.
Seed dissection is a great biology experiment! The key is finding seed pods that haven't opened yet so that you can cut them open and talk about how seeds develop and the different ways that they travel once they are ready to break out. Our cited option deals with cattails because they are large and easy to find in the Boise area. If you can’t get cattail seeds, use any larger seeds that you can find – even pine cones can teach a lesson when used correctly.
If you want to teach about gases and how they form, this is a fun little experiment that only requires a bottle, a balloon and a simple funnel. The goal is to create a scientific reaction that creates gas, which then inflates a balloon. This works with the traditional baking soda and vinegar, but also with experiments using yeast and other common kitchen ingredients.
Plants absorb carbon dioxide and exude oxygen...but how? This project, great for warmer weather, involves locking plants into plastic bags for around half an hour to create different levels of condensation that lets you to judge how plants "breathe" and talk about plant biology.
This fun project allows you to examine how weather and light affect plant growth with a hanging balloon filled with soil and seed growth. It's a long term project ideal for studying many lessons throughout.
Ready for some engineering science? Study how to make a magnet with simple household materials like a battery, nail, and copper wire. This is a great way to talk about electromagnetic forces and a great lead into how motors work!
Family Science and Nature Outings in Boise
Are you looking for local trips for you and your kiddos to enjoy nature – while also helping them learn more about science, local wildlife, and the environment? Here are several ideas to consider for a day trip in the Boise area...or even repeated visits if it becomes one of your favorite places!
The Idaho Botanical Garden is an excellent option for younger children who may not be ready for a full trip out into the forest, but still want to learn more about plants and ecology. It’s also a great way to deviate from the usual city park outing. The plant collections, conservation efforts, and events at the Gardens are very detailed. And The 30-acre space is easy to navigate with smooth greens and plenty of rock paths leading through the gardens.
There are several options for fossil beds, but one of the most popular is the Hagerman Fossil Beds, which includes hikes, drives, and a center for exploring how fossil beds work. This one is usually an easy winner, since kids love fossils and will learn about geology at the same time! Just remember that some of this exploration can get hot and demanding during the summer.
For older kids and teens, there's nothing like a refreshing hike in the forest to check out some local beauty and explore what nature has to offer! There are 2.5 million acres here, and we encourage you to look into the trails and pick one with great views of the surrounding landscape. If you like hiking in the snow, parts of the park are also open in winter and make for great snowshoeing while reviewing how the landscape changes between seasons.
Table Rock trails are available during the warmer months and offer unique access to some incredible geological views, while still being a classic Boise destination. The hikes here can be more challenging, but the views on a clear day are amazing. Plus, it's easy here to segue your kids into talks about geography, geology, and how Table Rock developed.
Choose a Body of Water
One of our favorites for families that want to spend a day out is the Arrowrock Reservoir, but there are plenty of nearby lakes and rivers to explore! If you want to focus on the nature part of the trip, try setting some specific challenges, like how many ospreys the kids can spot on the trip, or how many fish they see jumping.
Geocaching refers to communities that hide surprises at very specific coordinates across the country for others to discover using GPS location systems and careful coordinate plotting. It's a great way to teach about geography and navigation at the same time. It's also a long-term hobby that's easy to do as a family!
5 Ways Science Connects the Community
It's sometimes easy to look at science as something distant. A discipline that doesn't really affect you or anyone you know directly, except maybe at a visit to a local museum or planetarium. But the truth is that science is a living, active member of the community too! Here are just a few ways how science connects and benefits your community.
Preserving Local Landmarks
A park doesn't become a park or stay a park without some help! Science is involved in these precious local landmarks and their preservation. That doesn't just mean raising awareness either. Let's say a local park, like Julia Davis Park, gets overrun by geese (which wouldn’t be surprising!).How should the geese be removed? Should the city somehow remove all the geese, or will that cause future problems that geese are preventing? Is it possible to get rid of geese but not the ducks? Well, science has the answers! That's why parks and recreation reports are one of the valuable contributions science makes to keeping your favorite parks and landmarks beautiful.
Energy Use and Management
A community is defined by how it uses energy. From nuclear power plants to wind farms and hydroelectric dams, large energy sources come to define the communities around them. However, energy policies backed by science and research also change how a community approaches vital issues like air and water quality, zoning, and construction requirements. Just like how Boise is powered by green hydroelectric energy, for example. With scientific input, communities can solve pollution issues, create more attractive buildings, and use the local landscape to its advantage. In other words, science can be beautiful.
Preserving Local History
Archaeology, anthropology, paleontology – these disciplines and many others are all about exploring history and preserving valuable evidence of the past. Without science, we wouldn't have fossil beds, historical landmarks, or knowledge of how the nearby land was settled. We wouldn’t have Sue, the world’s largest T-Rex fossil on record! Not only would this affect tourists, but it would also be bad for the families growing within those communities, who would never know why their location is unique and worth valuing. Communities are made all the better when they understand and appreciate their history...and that's where science comes in handy.
Professional Development for Teachers
Scientists do give talks at schools, and of course higher-level educators are often scientists in their own right. But there's another, more subtle way that scientists affect the overall education of a community: They help train teachers. That's right, the community of scientists is actively involved in teacher development courses where they teach the latest methods and classroom projects to help impart scientific knowledge to children.