Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Science in Action: Milk and Watercolor!

The other day I was perusing websites and researching ways to expand on our water color explorations. I came across a lot of ideas that I love and have used in the past including painting with water color ice cubes! Then I saw this. An EXPLOSION of color? The kids would love it! I made sure we had the necessary supplies at the school and set out to find a time that seemed perfect to provide this guided provocation. The list of necessary items is fairly short: food  coloring, milk, a shallow bowl, q-tips, and dish soap. The perfect time came one sunny afternoon as everyone woke from nap. A few children chose to stay inside with me and I jumped at the opportunity to try out our new provocation. As they cleared their mats I set the experiment up on the table- except for the food coloring. Those I brought down the boxes for and together we voted on which colors we would use. We chose two gel food colors (orange and blue) and two liquid food colors (red and green). 

I had not yet explained what we were about to do so I took the chance to discuss this with them before we started. I explained how I had been thinking about new ways we could work with color when I stumbled upon an experiment! This experiment needed all the supplies we had on our table and if it worked would produce a reaction. The questions started at this point.

D: "A reaction? A reaction to what?"
Melinda: "Well, what do you know about reactions?"
A: "That's like when you get mad at your mom or dad when they say no. That's a reaction."
EF: "Or maybe you get happy!"
EK: "Yeah! Or sad!"
D: "Or maybe you get mad at your friend and you yell at them."
Melinda: "Those are all reactions. A reaction can be something you feel or do when something happens to you. In this experiment, the milk, food coloring, and dish soap will have a reaction from what we do to it."

The next step was to get started. First, we each took a turn pouring the milk into our shallow bowl. After that each child was invited to add a few drops of their food coloring into our bowl. Then we stopped to talk.
Melinda: "What will happen if we just touch the milk with our q-tips I wonder?"
A stopped me in my tracks, "Wait a minute! We have soap here. How are we supposed to use this soap? It has to be part of the experiment."
I nodded, "Well, you are right. It is part of the experiment. First I was going to see if anything happened when I touched the q-tip to the milk now, though."
D spoke: "Well since we didn't use the soap probably nothing will happen."
EF chimed in, "Or maybe there will be a reaction!"
I told them, "Well let's find out. Who would like to try?"
Each child took a turn gently dipping the q-tip into the milk and food coloring mixture. As A and D had predicted, nothing happened.

A looked at me, "I think we should add the soap."
I agreed, "Okay. Now we can add the soap. The experiment instructions say we should dip the q-tip in the soap then in the milk. What do you think will happen?"
D: "I don't know! Let's just do it."
EK: "Maybe it will make a color!"
EF: "Or maybe it will mix it."
A: "I just want to do it now."
Melinda: "Okay, who should try it first?"
After much discussion everyone agreed A should do it first. He dipped the q-tip into our soap then gently applied it to one area of the milk. Nothing happened.
Next EF tried. Nothing happened again. I started to go over the instructions in my head and feel a little nervous. What if it didn't work?
EK tried next. And it worked. The colors exploded!

A yelled out: "It's like fireworks!" 
EF and EK screamed with delight.
D said, "Look! That's the reaction!"
All of our noise attracted R, who was reading on her mat, over to our table. Though she hadn't been interested in our exploration at first our delight drew her in, "What are you guys even doing?"
A explained to her, "Well we are putting milk, food coloring, and soap together. You get fireworks!"
D looked puzzled for a moment then said, "Why can we only see red and green?"
I looked at our experiment for a moment, "Well I'm not sure but these are two different kinds of food coloring. One of them is a little thicker than the other and it's called a gel coloring."
D: "Can we do this again? With only gel food coloring? Maybe it will work if it's only gel food coloring."
Melinda: "Absolutely. Let's make that a plan."

We haven't yet been able to try our experiment again with just gel coloring but I'll report back once we have! If you try it at home we would love to hear how it works for you!

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