Friday, April 8, 2011

Science Birthday Party

We finally had Isaac's friend birthday party. Only three weeks after his actual birthday. Birthday parties kind of stress me out and so I tend to put them off. But after seeing all the pictures of the science birthday  party on Angela Taylor's blog, I found all the inspiration I needed to get off my butt and get it done.

Here's the cake I made. It's a volcano, in case you can't tell. I used a Pampered Chef Batter Bowl to make the top (one whole cake mix) and two 8 inch rounds for the base. I froze the layers so they'd be easier to work with, then stacked them up with frosting in between and shaved off the sides. Here are the instructions for getting the volcano cake to erupt. My reservoir was not deep enough, so we only got minimal smoke and no lava overflow. 

Check out these goody bags! I got the idea to use rubber gloves on YouTube. I filled them with Pop Rocks, a glow stick, Smarties, a film canister and 4 Alka Seltzer tablets (both of which can be used for a rocket blast experiment). I also included goggles since all the kids would need them for our different experiments.

After the kids arrived and played basketball for about ten minutes, they came inside to decorate "lab coats," which were really t-shirts. I had Sharpie markers for them to use and placed a paper grocery sack inside the shirt so the colors wouldn't bleed through. (Thank you Mrs. Bell for the suggestion!)

Next the kids made structures using toothpicks, cheese balls and gum drops. The goal was to see who could make the tallest structure. Ethan, who was our resident scientist, went for economy in his design and quickly had his structure towering above the rest.

Isaac went for a more traditional model, but found it unstable. It was fun to see the different designs the kids came up with.

The kids really had fun making their structures and probably could have spent more than 20 minutes working on them. Several didn't even want to move on to the next activity: The Popcorn Volcano. This is where we donned the goggles and I begged the kids not to look directly into the popcorn popper. I had imagined they'd all stay back and catch the popcorn as it blew out. But they had a different collection method.

We then moved outside to the rocket launch demonstration. Using a film canister (which you can get for free just by asking at any photo counter) a teaspoon of water and half an Alka Seltzer tablet, Ethan demonstrated how gas can build up pressure and exert a force. He went into acids and bases and talked about how antacid tablets can neutralize the acid in your tummy. 

I don't know where it all came from. He was a regular scientist and the kids ate it up.

He was good to make sure everyone was standing far away and set up the rocket. Then he had the kids count down from ten, slowly. And wouldn't you know it, when the count got to zero, that thing exploded about 20 feet into the air. It was magic. The kid's eyes were saucers. Ethan was a thirteen-year-old science god.

He did the demonstration a few more times and explained that they could do this at home with their parents permission and supervision. And always wear your safety goggles.

Then it was back inside the house to make polymers. Or, as the kids know it, Flubber. Again, Ethan was on with his explanations of the molecules strands and how flubber can act like a liquid AND a solid. He had the kids eating out of his hand. (Actually, one kid did admit to eating a bit of flubber. I reminded him that white glue IS the main ingredient and that he should probably not eat any more.)

I'm disappointed these pictures are blurry, but could not pass up showing them. The kids had a great time with the flubber. I bagged it up and sent each kid home with a big hunk. I'm sure their parents are so happy.


 Here's the cake as it started smoking with the dry ice. It's not a great shot, but I do love the look of anticipation on the kids faces. So sorry the cake disappointed them. But it tasted great. I also made a great punch recipe that the kids couldn't get enough of. I made up a dry ice smoky punch bowl for the punch and it was exciting, but kind of a lot of work.

Best of all, today was a lovely, warm and sunny day. The first since sometime in February according to our weather guy. It would have been so disappointing if the kids had to play basketball and watch the rocket launch in the rain.

Jonah said he wished he'd had a good birthday party like this one. He said his wasn't very good and feels he got the short end of the stick. "You had Ethan do a magic show at your party," I reminded him.

"I didn't want him to do magic at my party," he said.



Senia said...

Mother of the Year! Mother of the Year!

You never cease to amaze me! (and how perfect for Ethan)

Angela Hunter said...

Geez! This looks amazing! run this whole thing AND take all the pictures yourself? How the heck did you manage that?!?

I-Shüan Warr said...

That does look amazing! Peter and Thomas loved it. Ethan is the next Bill Nye the Science Guy, I'm sure of it!

Natalie said...

I have told my kids about 18 times now that they're NOT having friend parties this year. (Why don't they hear me?) But NOW... hmmmm, this is hard to resist. I would love to copy you! Thanks for great ideas.

Debbie said...

I told angela the same thing...for volcano cakes an italian soda glass from Spaghetti Factory works really well! It's the perfect long skinny shape! :)

Amazing party! I would have loved it too! I love the glove party cute!

Allyson said...

Afton, you are the best! I don't know how you did it all!

claire said...

That looked very cool! Good thing you've got Ethan to help out.