Magic Snow

What is Magic Snow?

Magic snow is an absorbent polymer that is safe and non-toxic, it has the ability to expand up to 40 times its original volume. The snow starts out as a simple powder that looks similar to sugar or salt. The magic happens when water or other liquid is introduced to the magic snow, which quickly expands to absorb the liquid.

How is it Used?

Hollywood uses it for special effects, many people use it to decorate for parties, and thanks to its low price you can use magic snow for fun. When using magic snow, use it on a dish, bowl, cup, test tube, or anything else that will help you contain the magic snow. First place the magic snow into the container of your choosing, next sprinkle a small amount of magic snow into the container. Then add a small amount of water and watch it grow. Use more in the following trials once an idea of the amount the magic snow expands is gained.

Example

magic snow

Do not let magic snow into drains or pipes; it will expand causing them to clog. The best way to dispose of magic snow absorbent material is to put it in a plastic bag and then in the trash. Do not rinse the container you use for magic snow creation in the sink, even a little can cause clog. However if you do accidentally clog a drain, a small amount of bleach will clear the drain.

What Is The Red Liquid That Secretes from a Butterfly Chrysalus?

When an adult butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, it secretes a red liquid that often drips down to the bottom of the habitat. This is not blood. It is actually a liquid known as meconium that is the natural secretions created while in the chrysalis. This is natural and you should explain this to children during a butterfly life cycle project so that they do not think the butterfly is injured or that something is wrong with the experiment.

Studying Ant Colony Behavior

Ant History

Ants are insects that developed from wasp-like creatures over 100 million years ago. Today there are over 12,000 species of ants that have been classified.

Ants form colonies that range in population from a few dozen living in small natural cavities to millions that live in larger structures they build in the ground. The colonies consist of three types of ants. Sterile, wingless females, fertile males, and fertile females referred to as queens. The sterile female ants serve as soldiers or workers in the colony.

Ants work together in colonies to build their habitat and recreate. The process can be fascinating to watch for children and adults alike. Due to the fact that most ant colony behavior takes place beneath the ground, humans must use ant habitats or ant farms to observe ant colony behavior.

Ant Farming

The ant farm is designed to study ant and ant colony behavior by offering a great observation tool for the classroom or just for fun. Myrmecologists study ant behavior, and with an ant farm you can take a look into the world of myrmecology (the study of ants).

Close up of an AntTunneling Ants

Ant Farm Types

The Ant FarmAnt Farm by Uncle Milton is a classic ant farm that has a green farm scene with a clear viewing pane surrounded by a green frame. The farm is usually filled with sand, dirt, or other media. These ant farms have a low price point making them accessible to classrooms and families of all budgets. In order to properly care for your ants, you will need to open the ant farm and make sure the ants have food and water. The down side is that this increases the chances of the ants getting out of the farm and into places you do not want them.

In recent years the Ant Farm has been modernized with improvements to visibility. A modern alternative ant farm is the AntWorks Illuminated Habitat

AntWorks Illuminated Habitat

Illuminated Ant FarmThe AntWorks ant farm is completely see through thanks to a gel that NASA developed when studying ants tunneling at zero gravity. The gel holds nutrition and water so that you do not have to provide the ants with nourishment. The AntWorks Illuminated Habitat is available with either red, green, or blue gel. The setup also includes LED lighting in the base so that you can view the ants at night. All of this is housed in a tightly sealed 6.5L x 6.0W x 1.25D clear acrylic habitat to minimize ants escaping into your house, lab, or classroom.

Set Up

Set up of the green AntWorks Illuminated ant farm was easy using the provided instruction manual. After assembling it and testing the LED lights the next step was to go out and find some ants. There are two options for getting your ants, you can either send in the coupon provided with the kit or find your own ants. After finding the ants, they were put into the ant farm which was covered with a towel for 3 days to allow the ants to get used to their new home. After adjusting to life on the ant farm the ants have created a spectacular tunnel system that looks even better in the dark with the LED lights on. They are fascinating creatures to watch and learn from.

For more information, Wikipedia has in depth information about insects including ants . You can always call Heath Scientific as well.

Warblettes Lab Activity Book

In a previous post on warblettes, we conducted a small experiment demonstrating the absorption characteristics of warblettes. There is a small summary below that you can use as a refresher, or you can view the actual warblette experiment.

warblette

Warblettes Lab Activity

As mentioned in the previous post, warblettes are co-polymers that absorb up to 200 times their volume in water. Warblettes are perfect for science fair experiments, in the classroom, or just as a fun activity for your family. Warblettes, which are sometimes referred to as water marbles, are non-toxic and come in clear, red, blue, green, and yellow colors.

The basic absorption experiment we posted on warblette absorption is a simple experiment that uses household objects. Warblettes can be used for much deeper science and educational learning. Heath Scientific has created a lab manual for this purpose.

Warblette Activity Book

The warblette lab activity book has activities for every age student. There are 13 activities ranging from math and graphing to cellular biology. You can use warblettes to demonstrate potential and kinetic energy, change over time (graphing), man-made and natural polymers, and light refraction. The labs include explanations and procedures. If needed, modify the activities to fit your students abilities or needs.

The Labs Cover:

1.) Calculating Volume – Math
2.) Observation Skills
3.) Polymers and Water Absorbtion
4.) Absorption of Household Liquids
5.) Water Absorption and Time
6.) Water Absorption and Temperature
7.) Advanced Measurement – Volume, Calipers, Averaging, and Reading Charts
8.) Graphing – Line Graph
9.) Potential Energy – Comparing Diameter to Rolling Distance
10.) Varying the Height of an Inclined Plane
11.) The Effects of Acidity on Water Absorbtion
12.) Light Refraction
13.) Density

Both the warblettes and the lab activity book are available at Heath Scientific, which has been providing educational supplies for over 20 years.

Warblettes – Teaching Kids About Polymers and Absorbtion

Warblettes are co-polymers that can absorb up to 200 times their volume in water. The warblettes water marbles are perfect for science fair experiments, in the classroom, or just as a fun activity for your family. These water marbles are non-toxic and come in clear, red, blue, green, and yellow. Heath Scientific offers a warblettes lab activity book that includes 13 activities that focus on different subjects like math, graphing, and cellular biology, perfect for science fair projects and classroom experiments. The procedures for running each experiment are explained and the labs can be modified to meet your specific needs.

Enough about the details lets take a look at the Warblettes in action!! As mentioned they are able to absorb 200 times their volume in water. Our experiment compares the warblette, aluminum foil from a chewing gum package, and a piece of paper towel. This will show the differing amounts of absorption between the water marble and these other household items.

warblette-materials

First the paper towell, foil, and the warblette were placed in water bottle caps, then each cap was filled with water. (Note that we are using bottle caps as they are easily accessible in the home. If you wish to measure liquid absorbtion in milliliters, a beaker or test tube will need to be used). The items were left alone for 8 hours allowing them to absorb as much water as possible.

warblette-absorbtion

The picture below shows all of the items after 8 hours of absorption time. As you can see the aluminum foil absorbed no water, which was expected as metal is a virtually non-absorbent material. The paper towel absorbed a little more than half of the water in the cap. Paper towels are designed to clean up spills so it makes sense that this would be the case. Finally the warblette absorbed all of the water available in the cap, we even filled it a second time and it absorbed this too! The warblettes actually lock the water away so that they are not wet to the touch like the paper towel is.

warblette-final

Here is a picture of the warblette before the introduction of any water, as you can see it is very small in comparison to a dime.

warblette-size

This is the warblette at the end of the experiment; note the drastic size change after the absorption of water.

warblette-final-size

Warblettes have superior absorbent properties when compared with the aluminum foil and paper towel. This is an example of an easy and fun experiment that can be done with simple household items. The lab activity book offers more challenging experiments that are better suited for science fairs and classroom experiments. To find more experiments like these visit Heath Scientific, a family owned and operated company, which has been providing teachers, parents and students with educational supplies for more than 20 years. They offer warblettes and many other science supplies, science fair kits, and other fascinating products.