Monday, May 9, 2011

Hot Lava!

Written Thursday, May 5th

Tonight my 5 year old made one of her infamous impromptu and impossible requests just before bed time- convenient! As usual, I cringed not at all because it was fun and educational, but because it had the potential to draw bed time out until the dawn- not cool. We'd read a book on volcanoes last night and now she wanted to make one. Spectacular. 

Instead of figuring out how to wriggle out of that one and leave her disappointed, I used my powers for good instead. Since building a volcano was out of the question with only 15min till bed time, I got creative and pulled out a Bundt pan I had, set it atop a small, empty, glass seasoning jar (from Trader Joe's if I'm honest) that I filled with baking soda. In another glass jar exactly like the first, I used a funnel to pour in vinegar until it was full, then allowed the kids to put in two drops each of yellow food coloring and red food coloring to make orange "lava". 

They took turns pouring the colored vinegar into the center of the "volcano", or Bundt pan, and "ooh'ed" and "ahh'ed" as they excitedly watched the orange lava flow up and out of the center. We repeated it a few times more before I just couldn't allow the pre-bedtime stalling to go on any longer, even if was educational. When we were done, I poured our spent lava solution down into the garbage disposal and let it sit to clean and freshen the drain.

Teaching Moments*:
Yellow + Red = Orange
Baking Soda + Vinegar= lots of Carbon dioxide bubbles, just like the CO2 plants breathe from air that we breathe out, and also found in soda.
Baking Soda = base, Vinegar = acid, together they're an acid-base reaction which is usually pretty cool to watch as long as they're on the milder ends of the pH scale.
If you prefer to measure, which I seldom do, you can teach measuring.
Sharing and Cooperation.
Reusing, being "green", and not being wasteful by finding creative ways to reuse things (the glass seasoning jars and the finished vinegar-baking soda solution)

*Life with kids is full of teaching opportunities and they are easily recognizable the more you practice looking for them. After awhile, they'll emerge on their own and you'll teach on the fly without even batting an eyelash, I promise. I will try my best to spotlight them in all my posts from here on out.

PS, The title of this post goes out to all my "Chef" fans out there, you know who I'm talking about.

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