Yuck @ The Library: Summer Science Fun

Since our kids’ Summer Reading theme this year is “Fizz, Boom, Read,” we thought having a super messy version of “Yuck @ The Library” would be a perfect fit! Our focus this week was the five senses, so we tried to center our activities around this concept.

Step 1: Story Time To open our program, two of our teen volunteers read Five for a Little One by Chris Rashka. It’s a very lyrical, rhythmic picture book that describes the five senses in a fun and accessible way.

Step 2: Luscious Lollipops Activity To further incorporate the five senses, as well as a literacy component, we had the kids participate in our “Luscious Lollipops Activity.” We gave each child a pencil and a special card with a lollipop attached. We then asked the kids to examine their lollipops, using their senses, and use adjectives to describe their observations.

Step 3: Elephant Toothpaste Experiment

Next, we had the kids use their senses of touch, sight, and smell in our Elephant Toothpaste Experiment. The directions for this activity can be found on ScienceBob.com. I highly recommend using stations for this activity. Also make sure each child has gloves to protect their skin from the chemicals. We started by explaining two scientific terms: catalyst and exothermic reaction. Then we had the kids move to the stations and begin creating their mixtures.
Once our kids had created their chemical concoctions, we took them outside to enjoy the final reaction. Needless to say, they enjoyed the bubbly, foamy, mess we made. 🙂 We also made sure to have them touch the bottles while the exothermic reaction was occurring so they could feel the heat it generated.


Step 4: Oobleck Experiment Finally, we asked our kids to rely on their sense of touch during our Oobleck Experiment, which, of course, gets its name from Dr. Seuss’ Bartholomew and the Oobleck. The directions for creating an Oobleck can be found on the Scientific American website. Oobleck is particularly fascinating for kids because it’s a non-Newtonian fluid. In other words, it’s a fluid that can act both as a liquid and a solid. It all depends on how much force you apply at any given time.

We encouraged the kids to experiment by applying varying amounts of force. Ex: “What happens when you touch the Oobleck gently? What happens when you poke it as hard as you can?” Our kids had a wonderful, gloppy time playing with their slimy creations. At the end of the program, we gave them all ziplock baggies so they could take their Ooblecks home.


In total, we had 30 kids and 8 parents attend this program. 🙂 We’re all looking forward to having another messy science day again soon!

Yuck @ the Library: Salty Soda Balloons

???????????????????????????????For this month’s “Yuck @ the Library” science program, I wanted to teach the kids about atoms, molecules, and chemical reactions. Not an easy task for little minds! Molecules and atoms are very abstract subjects and can often be hard to grasp. So I decided to do the Salty Soda Balloon Experiment to illustrate what happens when two different chemical molecules interact (especially under pressure).


– a bottle of coke

– a water balloon

– salt

– measuring spoons

This activity requires some hand-eye coordination skills. Consequently, I’d recommend keeping your participants in the 6-12 year old range.

Step 1: The Lesson

With the help of some volunteers, I explained that molecules are made up of atoms and that molecules get “really excited” when they meet other molecules that are different from themselves. I used this information to explain the concept of nucleation sites, which is how the salt latches on to the CO2 in our soda to “ride” up out of the bottle in a fizzy, gaseous, gush!


Step 2: The Demonstration

I carefully had the kids pour salt into their water balloons. Then we went outside, attached our balloons to our Coke bottles, and watched the chemical reactions!


DSC01398All in all, our kids had a fantastic time with this activity! I’d highly recommend this one. Just make sure you do it outside!

Yuck @ the Library: Homemade Lava Lamps

Summer 028One of the programs I run at our branch is “Yuck @ the Library”: an interactive, science-based event designed to get kids interested in STEM subjects. This program is especially valuable because it introduces kids to scientific concepts in a fun, non-threatening way. It teaches them that science can be FUN and it supports their learning in school.

This month, I decided to teach our kids about density by having them make their own homemade lava lamps. Directions on how to do this experiment can be found Science Kids.


– a clear, plastic bottle

– water

– vegetable oil

– food coloring

– Alka-Seltzer tablets

Tip: when adding the food coloring, have the kids gently swish their bottles around. This will help distribute the color so the reaction is easier to see.

The kids really enjoyed watching the chemical reaction between the Alka-Seltzer and the water. Not to mention it was relatively inexpensive – a win/win program!