Experiments, Holiday, Tips and Tricks

Experimenting with Peeps

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you. 

This past week, we experimented with some peeps in the kitchen! Many of the experiment ideas, I was able to find by just searching the internet, but we also improvised. In the cases where I followed experiments exactly, I included their links for reference to ingredients and recipes.

Young children love experimenting… their entire day truly is just experimentation – so less structure is better and it’s more fun when introducing new concepts to them. We usually do the experiment together (it must be short for attention span) and then I give them plenty of time to explore and test on their own with whatever is left.

Peep ‘Slime’: (We followed the recipe listed on Little Bins for Little Hands.)

This experiment didn’t turn out like slime… I would consider the texture to be more like taffy. It even tasted a little like taffy! (This might have happened because we had one less peep than the recipe calls for…) But it was fun for the kids to watch what happens to peeps in the microwave and also mix all the ingredients together to see the texture of the peep change. They played with it a little but both were more interested in tasting it.

Sinking Peeps:

A few weeks ago we tested out various fruits and vegetables in water to see if they would sink or float (see my link on instagram with photos here or purchase the book ‘Awesome Science Experiments for Kids’ with the instructions here). So when I told them we would be doing the same thing with a peeps, they were very excited!

I asked them to form a hypothesis – if the peep would sink or float and why. We all seemed to agree that the peep would float because it had air pockets – similar to the fruits and vegetables that we tried. We tested the hypothesis to see if we were correct and we were.

I then allowed them to try sinking the peep. So they dunked it and pulled it apart… I would say they got a little crazy at this point and the peeps turned into chunks of white on top and powdery colored water. They threw the peep slime in the bowl and it sank! My four year old pointed out that the corn starch eliminated the air pockets which caused it to sink.

Dissolving Peeps:

Lastly, we decided to dissolve a peep. I personally selected white vinegar because it was an ingredient we would soon we using in egg coloring. I also assumed that if any liquid would dissolve a peep from our kitchen it would be that one. You could also try oil, water or any other liquids in your kitchen.

We formed a hypothesis again. My four year old thought that the white vinegar would dissolve the peep. I told her that I did NOT think that it would dissolve the peep. We put the peeps in the white vinegar solution and observed them for several days. Initially, within the first hour, the white vinegar turned a yellow color from the sugar dissolving away on the bottom of the peeps but the peep itself didn’t dissolve.

My four year thought I had won, but we decided to wait a few more days to see what might happen. Over the course of those days, the peeps did in fact begin dissolving in the white vinegar slowly. The peeps became smaller, began tearing when I picked them up and they were also sinking. My four year old was so excited that her hypothesis was correct. This was a great way to teach her that sometimes your tests have to take longer than you expect them to in order to get a desired result.

Let me know if you try any of these experiments at home! I’d love to hear and see your results! You can contact me on social media or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

Experiments, Holiday, Tips and Tricks

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Science

On Valentines Day, we made chocolate covered strawberries. I decided to turn it into a science project to teach my kids about phase transformations and melting points. (This was also a great project for gross and fine motor skill development as well as learning to follow instructions.)

Ingredients:

Approximately 1 pound Strawberries (washed and dried) with the leaves, water (enough to boil in a small pot or double broiler), 16 ounces of melting chocolate (I used milk chocolate chips), and 4 ounces of white melting chocolate (I also used white chocolate chips).

Supplies:

1 Double Broiler (or you can use a metal or glass mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water), a mixing spoon to mix the chocolate as it melts, wax paper to place the strawberries after they are dipped in chocolate.

Step 1: Washing and drying the strawberries:

I place my strawberries in my sink to soak with cold water and about a 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda for about 15 – 20 minutes. Then I gently scrub them with a cloth or scrub brush and rinse well. Next, I lay the strawberries out on a towel to dry completely (about 4 hours). 

Measuring the ingredients:

We didn’t measure our strawberries, but one idea would be to use a kitchen scale for measuring out the strawberries and the chocolate. For older children, this would be a great a way to introduce conversions to various measurement scales. (We personally relied on the package quantities.)

Melting the chocolate:

When we melted the chocolate, we used a double broiler. I showed my daughters what the chips looked like (they are very familiar with them but I stressed that they were hard and cool) and, of course, I allowed them to taste them. I told them that this was the ‘solid’ form for chocolate and it felt cool at room temperature.

My 4 year old then poured them into the double broiler. I let her guess what would happen, “it’s going to melt, Mommy”, she said very confidently.

As we stirred the chocolate chips in the double broiler, she became more and more excited to see the chocolate melting before our eyes. I explained that the chocolate had reached it’s ‘melting point’. It was melting to a soft liquid and that this transition was called a ‘phase transformation’. My daughter easily recognized the liquid was hot when I allowed her to put chocolate on one strawberry felt the heat from the pot.

WARNING: The chocolate will be HOT. Be sure that your child is ready to do this on their own without burning themselves.

If you have a cooking thermometer, you may want to consider placing it into the chocolate as it melts and let your child look at or record the temperature of the chocolate as it melts.

We continued to dip the strawberries in the double broiler (until all sides were covered in chocolate), then laid them on wax paper lined pans to cool. I asked my daughter what she thought might happen as they cool. She agreed that the chocolate would harden around the strawberries into a solid again (another phase transformation).

White Chocolate Drizzle:

I melted the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave. (If you do this, do it gradually and stir it between heating cycles to prevent the chocolate from burning.) I allowed my 4 year old to experiment with the technique on this. This also helps with fine and gross motor development.

Let me know if you try this out! We had a lot of fun with this one. It is a very simple project and more lessons can be added depending on the age of your children. Let me know what you think in the comments below or at MomgineeringtheFuture@gmail.com.


Animals, Experiments, Germs, Great Things about Space, STEM Resources, TV Shows

My Current Top 7 Favorite Kid and Family Friendly STEM Shows

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.


Here’s a list of my favorite educational STEM shows that I watch or have watched with my kids (in no particular order):

Brainchild on NetFlix: This NetFlix original series is incredibly educational and addicting to watch with my children because it makes science relatable.  It was launched in 2018 and it is currently in it’s first season. Each episode covers various scientific topics like Space, Forces, Thinking, Oceans, Germs, etc.  It stars Sahana Srinivasan, Alie Ward and Ben Seidman.  I hope that it gets approved for a second season! They also have free resources on their website for teachers!

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Hey, 90s kids, do you remember this guy?  This show made science cool with its crafty scientific humor and its easy and fun to understand experiments and real life examples of science in action. You can find some episodes on NetFlix, purchase episodes on Amazon or search YouTube.

Image from Amazon.com

The Magic School Bus:  Mrs. Frizzle is still cool with kids these days.  You can get these from the library, order the series on Amazon or watch some episodes on NetFlix. To order from Amazon, click here.

Sid the Science Kid on PBS:  The main character, Sid, is incredibly inquisitive about the world around him and explores, with his classmates, why things work the way that they do.  It introduces the very basic principles of science to a young child in a comedic and educational way.  You can catch episodes on PBS or on the PBS app.

Curious George on PBS: While these episodes aren’t all extremely scientific, what I personally love about them is the lesson they teach about being curious and experimenting in a big open world just like a scientist.  I feel and have seen in my own children that being exposed to that type of thinking as a young child develops and improves their creativity, critical thinking, cognitive and problem solving skills which are all essential skills in STEM fields.

Crickey! It’s the Irwins on the Animal Planet:  This show was just renewed for it’s second season.  If you used to watch The Crocodile Hunter with Steve Irwin, you’ll love the families new series on Animal Planet.  The Irwin Family carries on his legacy for animal conservation and public education.  His wife, Terri, and their children, Bindi and Robert, run the Australia Zoo which cares for over 1200 animals.  These episodes have extraordinary educational video of zoologists and veterinarians in action as they care for these animals at the zoo and their conservation efforts worldwide.  Check your local TV listings for viewing schedule.

Wild Kratts on PBS: Chris and Martin Kratt created this live action and animation show that educates children on biology, zoology and ecology. Each episode has some sort of plot with a villain or a problem that needs to be solved. As the episode progresses, it educates children about wild life.

What favorites would you add to this list? Let me know on my social media pages, in the comments to this blog post or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

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Cincinnati Museum Center, Dinosaurs, Experiments, Holiday, Museums, Nature, STEM Resources

The Cincinnati Museum Center has re-opened!

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An inside look of the front of the Cincinnati Museum Center.

When I walked inside the newly preserved Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC, previously Union Terminal), the dome inside literally took my breath away. I grew up in this city. I walked through these doors NUMOROUS times in my lifetime but I had never seen it look this beautiful.

After more than two years of the main building being closed to the public for historical restoration and preservation, it recently reopened (in November 2018) and I got my first glimpse inside over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The CMC houses the Museum of Natural History and Science, the Cincinnati History Museum, the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX theater, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, as well as numerous other special exhibits.

Historical Significance

Every city has at least one old building that serves some historical, architectural and engineering significance to its city. This building is one of those for Cincinnati. Union Terminal was built and dedicated in 1933. It was opened as a train station to unite all the railroads to one location in Cincinnati. It is still the largest half dome structure in the western hemisphere and if you walk inside, your breath will be taken away at its beauty. It has absolutely stunning art deco architectural design, which includes several original large glass tile mosaics by Winold Reiss (seen in the photos below), which were carefully and intricately cleaned to bring out the marvelous details in the pieces.

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Checking out an old style 1930s telephone booth.

The amount of architecture and engineering used to build and restore this building over its 85 years is just phenomenal. Our family spent so much time just exploring and marveling at the building itself – its engineering design and layout as well as it’s art deco style.

It was almost demolished many times, in fact, (unfortunately) its concourse was demolished years ago.

Historical Restoration and Reopening

The restoration was a $225 million project that was primarily funded by local tax payers over the course of a 5 year levy and additional funding was provided by federal and state historical tax credits as well as a capital grant from the state of Ohio. It was completed on budget.

Personal Connection

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Photo of my Grandfather from serving in WWII.

This particular building also has many personal connections to me and my family. My great grandfather worked on the railroads and took my grandmother to the station many times as a young girl. My grandfather walked through the doors as young teen to head off to fight in the Air Force in WWII and also returned to this station after the war. (I couldn’t help but imagine myself in his shoes as a young soldier walking through the doors to and from a war that is still marked as the biggest event in human history.)

One of my uncles helped preserve the beautiful glass tile mosaics that were moved from the demolished concourse to the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Airport. My parents came to the terminal for field trips as children when it was still a train station, converted to a science center, a shopping plaza and then took my brother and I to the Cincinnati Museum Center once it opened in the 1990s. I made many trips there as a child to view the exhibits and OMNIMAX films with my family and for school field trips. I also used to go downtown every year as a child to see the Duke Energy Holiday Train display which is now in the museum for Holiday Junction. This display has been part of Cincinnati since 1946!

This place holds a special place in my heart with countless happy memories from childhood and its historical connection to my family.

The Museum of Natural History and Science: Newly Opened Dinosaur Hall

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The signs above the entrance to the Museum of Natural History and Science at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

The Museum of Natural History and Science reopened with a new Dinosaur Hall. It is located to the right of the main doors as you walk into the Museum Center. (It still has the original sign a top the doors indicating the location for incoming taxis and motor coaches!) As we walked through the doors, we were greeted by 6 ginormous dinosaur specimens!

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Standing next to a dinosaur leg.

My three year old daughter was absolutely amazed by their size. She (and I) gained a better appreciation for paleontologists and the scientific work that they perform. We loved using the microscopes to look at some of the prehistoric pieces up close. The special effects inside the hall were so fun! It made it feel like we were truly walking among the dinosaurs in the museum!

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Interactive globe

This exciting interactive globe allows guests to see how the Earth transformed from prehistoric ages until now! There is a tiny star on it that represents Cincinnati. Did you know that Cincinnati was located on a coast at one time?

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Virtual reality experience

While we were there, I decided to test out the Jurassic Flight Virtual Reality Experience where I was transformed into a Pterodactyl and glided across prehistoric landscapes. It was SO much fun and a little ptero-ffying at times!! This part of the exhibit is an extra cost to visitors (it cost $6 for me as a non-member) and you must be at least 58 inches tall. It was worth it! Afterwards, I pointed out to my daughter that virtual reality systems are made by many different scientists!

The Cincinnati History Museum: Re-imagined Public Landing

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The main entrance of the Cincinnati History Museum also still has the original Union Terminal signs on top the doors indicating the location for outgoing taxis and motor coaches!

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Queen of the West boat we boarded.

The Cincinnati History Museum has reopened with one of it’s original exhibits – the reimagined Public Landing. Public Landing is a recreation of 1850s Cincinnati Public Landing. We walked along the city cobbled streets, visited several makeshift shops and storefronts including an old style photography studio where we were able to take a family photo.

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1850 Cincinnati

We walked across the gang plank aboard the “Queen of the West”. Inside we learned about how steam boats pushed across the Ohio river, what it was like to be a guest on the boat and how the boat business affected the local Cincinnati economy at that time.

Holiday Junction

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Lego Wonderland

Another exhibit, Holiday Junction, which is open for the holidays was a really fun place for the kids to go and explore.

We first walked through the new William L. Mallory, Sr. exhibition gallery which currently has a winter wonderland LEGO gallery on display. My three year old particularly loved the Disney themed LEGO displays and my one year old loved the LEGO train that ran through the middle of the exhibit hall.

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My daughter almost quite literally walked through a winter wonderland, watched Thomas and friends train layout, built a snowman under the Northern Lights and rode a toddler sized train. To build the snowman, my girls were able to select various snowman pieces (eyes, various fruits / vegetables for noses, hats, scarf, mouth, coal buttons, etc.) and they magnetically connected them to the life sized snowman.

Below you will see the two snowmen they created… The first snowman they made was pretty fun and goofy. They loved sticking eyes all over the snowman to make him look silly and finished off his look with a banana on his head!!

We probably spent 20 minutes in this area alone because they were having so much fun! This really brought out their creative side and they had a small lesson in magnetism (which I plan to cover as a future topic)! The magnetic pieces only ‘stuck’ to certain areas of the snowman, so we had a great talk about why that was happening.

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Next, we viewed the Duke Energy Holiday Trains. Upon entering, this space has a dramatic birds eye view of the entire space (which is ginormous!). My photo doesn’t even do it justice!

There are literally hundreds of trains flying around on tracks through a historic layout of Cincinnati. There are also trains in display cases along the walls for guests to view up close. This area was a dream for my three year old who is completely mesmerized by trains right now. She was so excited to name the parts of the trains that she recognized and loved telling us when one was zipping down the track nearby!

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My daughters also loved being able to “make their own storybook”. Children are able to select magnetic words and photos and place them on a giant storybook to make their own story.

Again, this was wonderful for building creativity and learning a bit more about magnetism.

The Duke Energy Children’s Museum

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By the time we reached the Children’s Museum, we were tired. Although we didn’t check out this space for long, we have spent hours here in past visits. It definitely receives my STEM stamp of approval and my kids thumbs up for fun!

Kids can learn about complex machines in Energy Zone, experiment with water, play pretend careers in several areas (veterinary, mechanic, etc.), climb and explore the wilderness, practice being a dentist and explore a giant set of teeth, etc. They also have a nature trading post where kids can bring in objects they’ve found outside and explain what they’ve learned about it for points. Those points can be used to select some type of scientific item for them to take home like a magnifying glass, rocks, etc.

Lunch at the Museum

We ate lunch at the museum and we were highly impressed by the cleanliness and the delicious, healthy and allergy friendly food options! If you are gluten free or have nut allergy, they definitely have you covered!

This was the lunch I shared with my husband – turkey avocado sandwich (optional gluten free bread) with tater tots! It was served on a real ceramic plate too. And my daughters had macaroni and cheese with goldfish crackers and applesauce.

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The photo on the left is the dining room we ate in. It was so clean and well staffed. It had beautiful art deco design and murals on the walls. Very 1930s style for sure.

The museum is reimagining the exhibit spaces and experiences for guests and reopening the new permanent exhibits and galleries in phases. We viewed all of the new permanent exhibits and galleries that were available at the time of our visit.

We are greatly looking forward to the next phases opening up at the museum and can not wait to return!

Please follow the Cincinnati Museum Center @cincymuseum on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to stay up-to-date on the latest news and permanent exhibits being opened to the public.

Additional Areas Explored

I posted additional photos from the museum that we checked out in the bottom of this post – the Rookwood Ice Cream Parlor, a Newsreel theater, more dining rooms, bulletin board, waiting area, STEM classrooms and more photos of the dome and outside. There is so much more to explore in this building than what we were able to see during our visit. We can’t wait to get back to explore more!

You can get more information on it’s history and restoration from this documentary recently broadcast by Cincinnati’s local WCPO news station.

DISCLAIMER: I received 4 complimentary passes to the Cincinnati Museum Holiday Junction, Museum of Natural History and Science, the Cincinnati History Museum and the Duke Energy Children’s Museum on the day of our visit. I was asked to help promote the updates we enjoyed at the museum on my social media pages and my blog. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

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Animals, Experiments, Great Things about Space, Holiday, Math and Numbers, Nature, STEM Resources, STEM toys

My Complete List of STEM Buys for Ages 0-12 (updated 11/28/2018)

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links above at no additional cost to you.

To help you through the holidays, I’ve listed out some of my favorite STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) buys for kids 12 and under.

Books are great gifts for the holiday, if you haven’t checked out my previous book reviews then please check them out here.

Age 0-1 years:

In this age group, I’d recommend toys that encourage their already growing interest of the world around them without being too stimulating. Babies in this age group are typically learning through their senses, gaining increased mobility and trying to perfect gross motor skills. I selected toys that I felt were good for further developing those skills and interests. These can help build the foundation of learning and exploration.

I bought this Touch and Feel: Farm (Touch & Feel) when my daughter was 6 months old and she still loves it at 16 months old! Early on, it encouraged her to explore her senses and work on gross motor skills. Now it is helping her develop language and recognize some animals that live at a local educational farm near us (we bring this book with us when we visit).

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pound and Roll Wooden Tower Toy With HammerThis Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pound and Roll Wooden Tower Toy With Hammer was a popular toy for both of my children under the age of one. These types of toys are perfect for little ones as they begin to learn object permanence and develop hand / eye coordination. It became my child’s very first ‘puzzle’ and it was versatile. As my children grew, they began using the hammer to further develop gross and fine motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination.

EverEarth Natural Wood Blocks, 80 Pieces are necessary for this age group. They help develop a child’s creativity, help them explore fundamentals of cause and effect, gravity (objects fall down), balance, build hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills, explore colors (if you purchase colored ones) and shapes, etc. These are also versatile for the future. Later on children can use them for sorting, designing, building, creating, experimenting, etc. And if you purchase these, your child could paint their own blocks!

Do you have a place outside your home near a window that would be a great place for this Sorbus Bird Feeder – Classic Tube Hanging Feeders for Finches Bird Seed and More, Weatherproof, Premium Hard Plastic with Metal Hanger, Great for Attracting Birds Outdoors, Backyard, Garden (2 Pack)?  Children at this age are so intrigued by nature.  My children LOVE watching birds come to the feeder especially in the window.  Ours is strategically placed outside their playroom window.  In the winter, feeders help non migrating birds find food.  It’s a great way for children to explore birds more close up and appreciate nature.  I added this to this age group because children love watching birds go to the feeder at this age and it builds a foundation for an interest in nature, but this ‘toy’ could be given to any age group.  Accompany it with an age appropriate bird book and some bird seed!  We have a feeder very similar to this one and it is a hit!

Age 1-3 years:

In this age group, children are typically further refining their motor skills, developing language skills, developing socially and emotionally and just beginning cognitive development skills (understanding how the world works through experience). For this age group, I’d recommend toys that nourish their already natural need to perfect their motor function (especially fine motor), allow for creativity, and support their language development. Many children in this age range love to find ways to express their new found independence – that can be nourished with age appropriate problem solving toys.

Bath Building Tubes

I think most children in this age range, love water. These Boon Building Bath Pipes Toy Set, Set of 5 have been so much fun for both my children at bath time. They are great for teaching cause and effect since they can rearrange the pipes to make water flow various directions through the chain or they can be used separately.

I try to find more complex building toys for my children. Our favorite, by far, have been Magformers Basic Set (30 pieces) magnetic building blocks, educational magnetic tiles, magnetic building STEM toy and LEGO Duplo My First My First Bricks 10848. Both of these toys offer expansion packs so you can continue building their collection. My daughters love mixing and matching the pieces from different packs to create something new.

Puzzles are another great option for kids in this age range. They help develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills. This Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Peg Puzzles (Set of 3) – Numbers, Alphabet, and Colors would familiarize children with numbers, colors, letters and number words. The pegs make it just a little easier for little hands to grab and put them in place on the board.

We have toys similar to this Dinosaur Toys Take Apart Toys With Tools (218 pieces) – Pack of 6 Dinosaurs – Construction Engineering STEM Learning Toy Building Play Set – Toy for Boys & Girls Age 3 – 12 years old and my kids love it! It’s great for developing coordination, cognitive skills and creativity. They can disassemble and reassemble. My only caution is to be sure that your child has past the phase of putting objects into their mouth because some parts and pieces could be a choking hazard.

My daughter picked out this B. toys – Two-ty Fruity! Wooden Abacus Toy – Classic Wooden Educational Counting Toy With 100 Beads – Natural Wood and BPA and Phthalates FREE Beads from the store when she was about 16 months old. It’s never too early to start counting… while they may not understand the concept of counting yet, familiarizing them with counting language and allowing them to move the pieces on the abacus is fun. Later on, kids can use this for learning how to add and subtract small numbers.

Age 3-5 years:

Children in this age group have (and are continuing to) greatly expand their language. They also have a huge imagination, love creative play and are extremely active. As far as cognitive development, they are capable of sorting objects by size, shape, color, etc. They also enjoy counting, begin understanding the concept of time and what it means to split something in half. Some can even begin counting money. They are not logical thinkers, so they typically “learn by seeing and doing”. This is a wonderful age to introduce experimentation and teach hypotheses, however simplicity and repetition is key. Kids are learning through play at this age.

Learning Resources Code & Go Robot Mouse is a problem solving and critical thinking toy that introduces children to the concept of coding. Kids lay out the maze for the mouse to find the cheese, then select and layout the order of the movements with cards. After the cards are laid out, they ‘program’ the steps into the mouse and watch how it moves. This toy challenges children to think critically and problem solve. It is also totally hands on and experimental. Also, keep your eyes out for this Fisher Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar Toy.  DISCLAIMER: I have not tested the Code and Go Mouse myself.

My daughter is really into space. Check out this cool Smithsonian Space 2019 Wall Calendar! A calendar is such a cheap, inexpensive learning tool for children to learn numbers, counting and understanding the concept of time. I found my daughters calendar last year in the discount bin at Target. This coming year, I splurged a little bit and ordered it off of Amazon. We incorporate our calendar into our nighttime routine with her. It’s helped with number recognition and counting.

Single Learning Resources Jumbo Magnifying Glass for Kids (One Magnifying Glass of Random Color Per Order)

A magnifying Single Learning Resources Jumbo Magnifying Glass for Kids (One Magnifying Glass of Random Color Per Order) has been one of the best interactive learning toys for my toddler. She brings it outside with her on warmer days and she examines nature with it – fallen leaves, flowers, grass, tree nuts, bark, insects, etc. She also uses it inside, for example, to examine her clothes, books, toys and the floor. She pretends to be a detective too. We’ve pretended to be underwater divers looking for “treasure” with it also. If you get one of these, watch your child’s imagination take over.

Melissa & Doug Stained Glass Made Easy Activity Kit: Princess – 100+ Stickers, Wooden Frame is really great for kids in this age range. These are hands on and teach number recognition as well as fine motor skill development and cognitive skill development. Check out my post on Learning numbers and early math for additional information.

Do you want to encourage your child to love chemistry? This Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set, 22 pieces looks great for allowing kids to do some experimenting while learning various experimental terms like beaker, eye dropper, flask, etc. It comes with simple experiment cards for your child to enjoy and test. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself.

Marble runs are perfect for this age group. It develops their creativity, fine motor skills, and problem solving and cognitive skills. I love this Marble Genius Marble Run Super Set – 100 Complete Pieces + Free Instruction App (85 Translucent Marbulous Pieces + 15 Glass Marbles) because it is transparent (kids can see the marble move through it) and it has so many starter parts and pieces.

If your child loves space like mine, they will absolutely adore this Discovery Kids Planetarium Projector for Children with Rotating Stars Night Sky Mode and Stationary Slides Mode with Planet, Constellation, Solar System, Nebula, Spaceship, and Star Slides. The planetarium is shaped like a space ship and has two projector modes: 1) the moving side has a dome that rotated and projects stars like the night sky and 2) the stationary side allows for 4 included reel discs for children to view space images like a nebula, the planets, the moon, the sun, galaxies, etc. The only downside is that the reel disc don’t have a cheat sheet to know what you are looking at, so you’ll need to do your homework ahead of time like we did.

My children love this Fisher-Price Medical Kit. We’ve even brought it to the doctors office with us! It’s a great toy for imagination and acting out doctors office visits. It introduces children to simple tools that doctors utilize to check patients. It includes a blood pressure cuff, thermometer, otoscope, bandage, syringe and stethoscope.

If your child is already into Duplo Legos, another alternative to the Marble Run mentioned above is this BATTOP Marble Run Building Blocks Construction Toys Set Puzzle Race Track for Kids-97 Pieces.  It works similarly to a marble run but attaches directly to your childs Duplo Legos set.  I opted for this option for my children because they absolutely love their Duplo Legos. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself yet.

Age 5-8 years:

Children in this age group have developed better reasoning skills and will continue to gain more confidence in reasoning. They have also learned new skills like reading and writing, which makes it easier for them to work more individually on complex activities. Selecting toys that allow them to continue improving these skills and selecting ones that continue to expand their creativity is critical for this age group to continue building confidence in their skills.

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Anyone that has been following my Fairy Garden Project will understand why I purchased this tool set for my 3 year old daughter. I put it in this age group because younger kids will definitely need help using these tools, but older kids (in this age group) will not need as much supervision. I actually bought this tool set from my local Lowe’s recently. It includes everything my child would need to help work on various household projects with us and also has many needed tools for our Fairy Garden project his winter.

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Does your child enjoy digging, dinosaurs or want to be a paleontologist? I’d suggest checking out Jurassic World Stem Playleontology Kit. Kids get the opportunity to dig, chisel and brush away dirt to reveal the dinosaur bones of a T-Rex. It can then be displayed on the display stand included. Once assembled, the mouth of the T-Rex will open and close. They get to experience what it is like to be a paleontologist. A book on dinosaur bones would be a great accompaniment to this toy. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself.

How amazing would it be for your kids to make their own ice cream and learn science simultaneously? I found this Play and Freeze, Ice Cream Ball- Ice Cream Maker, (77349)Maker and I can’t wait to try it out with my kids when they are older! This is a hands-on experiment where kids learn the science behind freezing and movement. They must read and follow the instructions for it to work. The result is delicious ice cream in 30 minutes. Don’t forget to check out the included recipes and buy the ingredients in advance too! DISCLAIMER: I have not yet tested this toy myself.

I remember when I was this age, I LOVED getting mail. Buying a subscription to a magazine would be exciting for kids in this age group. If they love learning and reading facts about animals and science, I’d suggest checking out a National Geographic Kids subscription. If you’ve never checked out the images in these books, you need to. The photographs are stunning.

ThinkFun Math Dice Junior Game for Boys and Girls Age 6 and Up – Teachers Favorite and Toy of the Year Nominee is a fun mental math game for kids learning and honing in on their addition and subtraction skills. Kids in this age range love games and this one looks like it would be fun to play as a family and would prepare them mentally for their middle school years. DISCLAIMER: I have not yet tested this game myself but have read the game details and game reviews.

Who remembers The Magic School Bus: Greatest Original Episodes? These movies are still wonderful learning tools for children. In this DVD, children are taken through space, the human body and the eye of the storm. These episodes are so easy for children in this age range to understand and keep their attention. We have this DVD and my children love it.

Age 8-10 years:

Middle schoolers are typically able to apply more logic and reasoning skills. They are also typically a bit more methodical in their thinking and approach than younger children and they are very fluent readers. More advanced toys that require them to read and follow instructions, problem solve issues and use their creativity would be great for this age.

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit | Over 100 STEM Projects | 4-Color Project Manual | 30 Snap Modules | Unlimited Fun is amazing!! I have this toy listed under this age range mostly because it does require some creative methodical thinking to work on this alone but this could easily be adapted for younger children if you are willing to work with them on it. Another option for more simplicity would be to check out Snap Circuits Beginner Electronics Exploration Kit | Over 20 STEM Projects | 4-Color Project Manual | 12 Snap Modules | Unlimited Fun which, based on reviews, has simpler diagrams to follow and may be easier for a bright young child. Children build various circuitry based on the diagrams provided and enjoy the success of completion or use problem solving skills to troubleshoot issues. All parts snap together, so it’s safe for children. I bought this to work on with my 3 year old and it was actually a lot of fun. Of course, attention span is limited at that age, but it primed her interest for electronics which was my goal for her age.

K’NEX were popular when I was a kid and it’s nice to see that they haven’t lost their popularity. If you are looking for a building toy for this age group, check out the K’NEX – 35 Model Building Set – 480 Pieces – For Ages 7+ Construction Education Toy (Amazon Exclusive). K’NEX allows kids to build objects that actually move. This set allows for creativity and helps develop more advanced cognitive skill.

If your child loved their marble run and they love challenges, then the ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run Logic Game and STEM Toy for Boys and Girls Age 8 and Up – Toy of the Year Award Winner might be a great toy for them. It is a much more intense complicated maze set up with 60 challenge cards. The pieces can be arranged many different ways which is what makes this challenging. This toy claims improve spacial awareness and logic. Based on the videos I reviewed, I would agree. Check out the video in the link to see how it works. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself.

The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity-Challenge the World Around You! has several household scientific experiments that are safe for children to do with some adult supervision. Experiments are organized and easy to understand. If your child is planning for science fair this year, this might be a good book for them. DISCLAIMER: I have not personally reviewed this book.

Age 10-12 years:

Children in this age rage typically have a very developed cognitive ability. They can gather thoughts, opinions and facts and formulate their own organized thoughts. They also typically use and practice more mental math and start learning more advanced math concepts in school. Any additional practice you can provide for additional skill practice in a fun way, while learning new concepts, would be helpful to confidence building.

Practicing more advanced mental math would help children in this age. This game, Math for Love Prime Climb, is a game that requires children to do mental addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Younger children can play with an adult. It is a game that combines skill, luck and strategy. DISCLAIMER: I have not personally tried this game.

Discovery Propulsion Rocket by Horizon Group USA is a reusable rocket launcher that uses household products for launching. Fun ways to use this launcher would be timing how long for take off, timing how long it’s in the air and measuring how far the rocket launches. This would also be a great toy to research energy and Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. DISCLAIMER: I have not personally tried this product.

While I personally have not read this book yet, I have read numerous reviews and have a reliable resource that First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong is an excellent book. Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon but he was also an incredibly talented engineer and astronaut. He was a man that lived through the infancy of the space program. This book is also a major motion picture. DISCLAIMER: This book is on loan and on my reading list!

If you are looking for something similar to snap circuits but a bit more challenging, check out Snap Circuits Snapino – Making Coding A Snap | Snap Circuits & Arduino Compatible | Perfect Introduction to Arduino Coding | Great STEM Product.  It introduces coding concepts to their electronic design.  Each project has detailed instructions explaining how to connect the circuitry and also how to write the code in the program that your child can download onto their own computer. DISCLAIMER: I have not tested this toy myself yet. 

As always, these are suggestions for each age range. Some children may require more or less challenging toys based on their needs and skill level. Some of these products (noted above), I was not able to review or test myself, however I did a thorough review of each to make my recommendation. I was able to test most products with kids in the younger age groups but not the older ones.

If you have any questions, please contact me at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

Experiments, Great Lakes Science Center, Movies, Museums, Nature

GLSC Great Barrier Reef Movie Proves to be Turtle-tastic!!

Are you looking for some place warmer to explore this Fall?

Don’t miss the showing of Great Barrier Reef at the Cleveland Clinic DOME theater at the Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC) this November!

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The Premiere:

Last evening (November 1, 2018), my daughter and I were privileged to be invited as VIP guests to view the premiere of Great Barrier Reef at the DOME theater at the GLSC located in Cleveland, Ohio.

When we arrived, we were greeted so kindly and felt like movie stars as we walked the red carpet together and posed for photos. This was especially fun for my 3 year old daughter. She had been talking about going to the science center all day long. She loves this place!

We walked upstairs and we were greeted by more amazingly kind and excited staff from the science center where they had popcorn and refreshments available. (How did they know that my daughters favorite snack of all-time is POPCORN? Haha! She happily polished off 3 bags of it that night.)

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In addition to popcorn, they had a fun interactive table center piece for the kids to build their own underwater turtle habitat. My daughter was gifted an adorable small plush turtle to take home that night. Did you know that you can get your own stuffed turtle too?? Be one of the first 100 ticket purchasers for the new showing and you will receive one!

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We learned about the importance of water pH for the health of various fish and how researchers can test pH. Did you know that those annoying midges that we get every year in Cleveland actually mean that Lake Erie is well balanced and healthy? I didn’t!

They had a brief presentation prior to the premiere by GLSC President and CEO, Kirsten Ellenbogen and a trivia game about the Great Barrier Reef. Ms. Ellenbogen shared some VERY exciting changes coming to the GLSC very soon. More on those at the end of this post. I want to first share information about the movie itself!
Great Barrier Reef Movie:

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The images in this film, especially of the Great Barrier Reef underwater, are absolutely stunning and the movie is impressive! The movie follows Jemma Craig, an underwater photographer, reef native and founder of Islandjems Imagery, on an expedition to learn and document the work being done by various volunteers, researchers and scientists to save the reef and keep it healthy.

The storyline was relatively easy for my 3 year old to follow and understand. She was especially excited and interested about the work that was done to save a turtle from the reef at the Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Center. After the movie, she surprised me with her take awaydon’t throw trash in the ocean or it will hurt the sea animals!

We also learned about how the reef changes at night, how the reef is changing with climate change and the incredible cutting edge research being done by scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Life to save the reef. This is a really great, informative and inspirational family-friendly film.
More from the GLSC:
2:1 Grant for Renovations:

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Kirsten Ellenbogen (pictured above), CEO and President of the GLSC, shared some very exciting news last night. The GLSC received a 2:1 Challenge Grant from their anonymous donor.

The funds will be used to update the Second Floor Science Phenomena area. This area of the museum has ranked as one of the top favorites by visitors. The improvements will allow for bigger exhibits, more hands on features and some new areas. These new areas will be prototyped by guests over the next six months. So if you visit, you might be pulled aside to check out the new areas!

The GLSC has been challenged to raise $250,000 in donations by December 31, 2018. The donor will make a $2 donation for every $1 raised (i.e. gift of $30 gives $90 and $2000 becomes $6000). For more information on how to donate to this incredible grant, call 216-696-4260 or email development@glsc.org.

Great Science Academy:

In addition, the GLSC had launched the Great Science Academy, which is an immersive program for children in grades 6-9. Kids gather twice a month on Saturdays to explore STEM careers in a fun, creative environment. The topics for each grade are as follows: grade 6 is Sustainability, grade 7 is Mars and Space, grade 8 is Biomechanics and grade 9 is Entrepreneurship.

If you are interested in learning more or sending your children to the Great Science Academy, check out the website link above and contact them directly. They are also always looking for professional volunteers to help with the Great Science Academy. If you are interested, they would love for you to contact them directly!
Check out the Movie!!

I highly recommend that you take your family to see this movie – IT IS EXCELLENT. You can follow this link to the list of showtimes and ticket prices! It launches tomorrow, November 3, 2018 at the GLSC!!!

Check out Grossology while you are there too! Grossology lasts until January and then will be replaced by an exhibit designed by the GLSC on automobiles!

I want to thank the Great Lakes Science Center for allowing me and my daughter the opportunity to attend the premiere of Great Barrier Reef. We had so much fun and learned so many new facts about the reef and marine life. It was exciting for me, as a parent, to see my daughters excitement over this movie and listening to her talk about what she learned afterwards. I learned some really amazing facts too. It made me want to visit Australia!

DISCLAIMER: My daughter and I received exclusive access to the GLSC VIP event for the premiere of the Great Barrier Reef movie at the GLSC. In exchange, I was asked to promote the launch of this movie on my social media platform and blog. I am also a member of the GLSC. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. If you have any questions, please contact me at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

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Experiments, Halloween, Inexpensive and Versatile

Leftover Halloween Candy Experiments

Happy Halloween!!! 

I love Halloween.  Seeing the smiles on my children’s faces when they finally pick out the PERFECT costume, watching them go door to door and then the excitement they have when they get home and check out all the candy that they received.  I remember trick or treating with my brother and some cousins when I was younger.  We used to dump all of our candy on the floor, sort through it and trade pieces.   It was the BEST!

Now that I’m a parent, I think about… how do I regulate this candy intake for my child’s health AND how do I keep myself from eating it and gaining 5-10 pounds (haha)!?!?!?

Well… why not take some of that leftover candy and do some STEM experimenting???  So, that’s what we did!!!  I researched a few experiments on-line and we got started.

We did a few simple experiments to study dissolution and weighing.  Then my 3 year old completely surprised me with her own design!  It taught experimentation, observation and provided her practice in verbalizing what we observed.  The supplies are so simple and are typical items I think most parents have in their house at all times.

DISSOLUTION:

Experiment 1:

GATHERING SUPPLIES:

I used 9 clear plastic cups, about a half cup each of vinegar, water, and vegetable oil, and leftover Halloween candy (we used Skittles, M&M’s and Smarties, do not use chocolate candies because it will not dissolve).

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DESIGNING / SETTING UP THE EXPERIMENT:

My toddler is just learning to read but can’t quite read yet, so I knew I needed to make the instructions visual for her.  I drew out our plans on a sheet of paper.

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Our plans for Experiment 1

We walked through the plans step by step.  I filled the cups with the liquids (oil, water and vinegar) and she dropped each candy in.

RESULTS:

Right away she noticed that the water and the vinegar had removed the color coating on the Skittle and the M&M.  We let them sit for a while… maybe 30 minutes then relooked at them.  She was able to identify that the vinegar and water solutions were better for dissolving the candy than the oil.

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Top (left to right): Smartie in vinegar, water and oil; Middle (left to right): M&M in vinegar, water and oil; Botttom (left to right): vinegar, water and oil

After about an hour, the Skittle in vinegar was completely dissolved and almost dissolved in the water.  She recognized that the chocolate from the M & M did not dissolve and the Smartie did not dissolve at all but if shaken slightly, it broke apart a little bit in the vinegar and water.

Experiment 2:

GATHERING SUPPLIES:

Gather three tablespoons of water in a shallow dish, a spoonful of baking soda, and candy NERDS.

20181031_085709SETTING UP THE EXPERIMENT:

Add water to the shallow dish.  Dump in the candy NERDS and then a spoonful of baking soda.

RESULTS:

Wait a few minutes and you will start to see bubbles forming.  The bubbles form due to a chemical reaction that creates a gas.  The baking soda is very basic, the nerds are acidic and the water, which is neutral, helps the reaction along.  If you let it sit for a really long time, the NERDS will completely dissolve.

Experiment 3: 

GATHERING SUPPLIES: You need one SMARTIE and a half a cup of vinegar and a plate.

SETTING UP THE EXPERIMENT: Place the SMARTIE on a plate and pour vinegar over the top of it.

20181031_085323RESULTS:

You will see bubbles forming on the surface of the SMARTIE and eventually (this literally takes FOREVER), some candy will break off the edges.  This experiment could give an example of how erosion works but Experiment 2 with the candy NERDS would accomplish the same thing – it’s a bit quicker and more exciting.

WEIGHING:

GATHERING SUPPLIES:  We used a coat hanger, 4 total cupcake cups, yarn, a hole punch and some M&M’s.

20181031_091540.jpgSETTING UP THE EXPERIMENT: I layered two cupcake cups together, then punched holes on each side of the cups.  I strung some yarn through (I recommend making your string longer than mine to create a more dramatic effect when one cup is filled with candy).  I then tied the yard with cups to each end of the coat hanger and hung the coat hanger on a handle.

RESULTS:  My three year old chose a side to pour the M&M’s into and I made her guess what would happen (develop a hypothesis), the she poured the M&M’s into the side she selected.  We watched as the hanging moved to that side.  I asked her what she thought that meant.  She said, “there are ‘too many’ M&M’s on that side”.  Basically, she was right but I helped her understand it wasn’t that their were ‘too many’, but that one side was heavier than the other side.  Then my one year old knocked them out of the cups and the M&M’s were eaten… so our experiment ended (HAHA!).

Side Note:  During the experiments, we had several candy spills.  My toddler surprised me and completely gathered her own supplies, designed and made her own pulley system to help bring the candy up from the floor.  I was in complete and utter awe of her thinking and creativity.  It made me feel like I was doing something right as a ‘Momgineer’.

If you do a web search for “Halloween candy STEM experiments”, tons will pop up!  I personally LOVED this website and wished we could have done the Pop Rocks experiment – but we didn’t have Pop Rocks. 

Let me know if you try any other experiments or have a piece of candy you’d like to test but don’t know how!!!  If you’d like to write a feature article on your experiments for my page, please don’t hesitate to contact me at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

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