Monday, January 03, 2011

Weird Science...

Part of the challenge of being a stay at home mom and shopping for the holidays is that you have to find presents for under the tree that are going to provide entertainment for the preschooler, while at the same time being interesting enough for an adult that you don't feel your IQ swirling the drain down into the stoopid sewer when you are forced to play the same game over and over again blissfully fostering a love of quality time between mother and child with yet another round of Go Fish. (number awareness! fine motor skills! organizational skills! communication skills!!! Mother-of-the-Year, GO. FREAKING. FISH!!!)

So while Ethan isn't quite ready yet to start explicating Walt Whitman, or William Shakespeare, and since he's more interested in reading about dinosaurs and Knuffle Bunnies than in discussing Dante's myriad circles of hell (although clearly one of those circles is rife with Hot Wheels cars that must be crashed together for all of eternity) or Charlotte Bronte's symbolism of the heath in Wuthering Heights (seriously, just writing that makes me giddy. GIDDY.), I opted to fill out his "wish list" (read: Mama's wish list) with puzzles and games and science kits to entertain the child and give me at least the faintest sense of using my brain on a daily basis.

Among the Melissa & Doug puzzles of the solar system, dinosaurs and the map of the United States, the My First Dino Kits, and the board game Mouse Trap, we received a "Mind-Blowing Science Experiments" Kit. A few days ago, we decided to bust that sucker out. And blow our minds.

Now none of the experiments were really brain surgery. Because? Ew. Its not as though I felt myself becoming necessarily smarter, but I did get to read a lot of directions and I even put on my teacher hat and asked Ethan questions about the chemical reactions we were creating and had about as intelligent a conversation one can have with a preschooler about mixing citric acid and baking soda (or maybe it was baking powder--will that be on the test?)

First we created carbonation in our little cups of water by mixing the two above mentioned substances. We discovered that the reaction is faster and bubblier if you use hot water and much slower, but longer lasting and consistent if you use cold water (Stop the presses!!! Someone alert the soda companies that COLD soda is better than hot soda!! Oh, wait...). This discovery was the first time Ethan uttered the words "This is blowing my mind!!!", but it wouldn't be the last.

Then we moved on to the red cabbage powder, which does this when you put it in the water:

ooooh, pretty purple water fall...

And then you add stuff to it and depending on whether the stuff you add is an acid or a base, it will change colors.... like this....

look how excited! His mind? Blown.

And then blue!!! The amazing discoveries just. keep. coming!

We only got through 2 main experiments because after the carbonation experiment and the color changing experiment, we went outside-the-box and started carbonating the colored water, like two mad scientists on a bender.

Sure, I guess in my heart of hearts, I have to admit it wasn't the most intellectually stimulating experience of my life (oh, stuffy British literature professors, I miss you more than you'll ever know). BUT, it was so fun to watch Ethan's eyes widen in surprise and delight as he manipulated matter before our very eyes, that until he gets to analyzing literature and fractions (and really, anything mathematical is going to feel more like anxiety and nausea than intellectual stimulation...), I'm happy making water bubble and change colors.

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