Experiments at the Children's Desk - Colorful Celery

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

This experiment shows how plants absorb water—which usually would not create a change in the color of the plant because water usually has no color. We wanted to see how celery absorbs water by using food coloring!

First, we put the celery stems (called  the petiole) in colorful jars of water. 

Eventually, the petiole and leaves of each stem absorbed some of the color. This is because the celery petiole has tiny tubes that the water travels through. If this celery was still in the ground, its roots would absorb the water from the ground.

The blue food coloring yielded the prettiest result, whereas the yellow gave us the most unnoticeable result (as we predicted since it's such a light color and very similar to the celery leaves). We then decided to combine some colors: we placed the stalk from the yellow jar into the red, and moved the stalk from the red jar into the blue. What do you think we were hoping to achieve?

The stalk that we put in red water after yellow definitely gave us orange--but check out the photo on the right: that's the stalk we moved from red into blue. Instead of just blending, we ended up with leaves of many different colors! We think perhaps this was due to the initial stalk itself--its foliage was slightly withered to begin with.

Experiments at the Children's Desk - Rock Candy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Last week, we debuted our special Fizz, Boom, Read! Summer Reading display at the CHPL Youth Services Desk. It's been a very sweet week--we moved from gummy bears to rock candy! We started out with this recipe from About.com, and, as always, did it in our own special way.

First, we followed the recipe *almost* exactly how it was presented, using 3 cups of sugar to 1 cup of water. This proved difficult, especially given that we were using a hot plate rather than a traditional pot on a stove. It was difficult to get 3 cups of water to boil because the device is meant to heat water for food and does not go past a certain temperature. We then microwaved the mixture which we believe helped the experiment yield good results the first time around. We hung a string on a popsicle stick over a mason jar (how stylish!) and used a paperclip to weigh it down. Were we to be eating this candy, we probably would not have used a paperclip for safety reasons. The result was great after one day:

We decided to see what would happen if we put a new string in the old mix. We ended up with a jar full of caverns and groups of sugar crystals, but not another string of rock candy. We read that we might be able to re-use a mixture--but we would have to reheat it in order to rearrange the molecules once more. Below you will find an explanation for this issue as well as the basic scientific concepts behind growing sugar crystals.

The basic principle behind growing sugar crystals is to put so much sugar in the water (3 cups sugar to one cup water in our case) to the point where the water can no longer contain all of the sugar molecules. When this happens, the sugar will creep out of the
water, forming crystals.

Q & A

Q. What do you think we did to the water to make the sugar

A. We had to boil the water in order for the sugar to dissolve.

Q. Why do we have to boil the water?

A. When the molecules are heated, they move around more,
making room for more molecules. When the molecules freeze, they slow down and expand, making less room inside a solution for other materials. When making a sugar solution designed to make crystals, we have to completely saturate hot water with sugar until no more can dissolve. This makes it possible for the crystals to grow when the water cools.

Q. Why don’t the jars of sugar-water have lids?

A. This experiment also requires the water to slowly evaporate from the jar to make room for the sugar to form crystals.

Another way to ensure a more successful batch of rock candy is to wet and dry the string and rub sugar on it before putting it in your jar/container. The sugar acts as a "seed" and guides the molecules toward it. When we did not boil the water all of the way, we were significantly less successful. We also found that the project was much more manageable when we used 1/3 of the recipe, but be careful using such a small amount of water on the stove--you don't want to ruin your pan/pot!

This project was a LOT of fun, but following directions is really important. We imagine making these with flavors would be absolutely delicious!


Our most successful batch--this is the result after about 4 days. We were able to dissolve the sugar until the water was clear again because we made a smaller batch. Since the water was fully saturated, perfect crystals formed as we waited patiently!

Experiments at the Children's Desk - Gummy Bear Science

Friday, July 18, 2014

This past week, we've been having a lot of fun in the youth services department. We're conducting experiments in our programs and at our desk now, too! Throughout the summer, we will have a rotating display of different science experiments and projects on display. First, we decided to see what would happen if we let gummy bears soak overnight in four different liquids: water, vinegar, water with baking soda, and saltwater.

We got the idea from the Science for Kids blog. The detailed work of measurement and worksheets would be better suited for an ongoing program, in the classroom, or at home, so we put our own spin on the activity. We lined up the bottles with the different liquids and taped down the normal gummy bears so that our young scientists could look at the differences in size, shape, and texture overtime. Children, parents, and caregivers made observations throughout the day and hypothesized about what might become of the soaking bears. The results were slightly tragic--most of them dissolved after about 24 hours! Our bears were completely immersed in air-tight bottles, which may have made our experiment slightly different from other results found on the web.

The bears in water, salt water, and vinegar all tinted their liquids with their respective colors, whereas the water and baking soda mixture remained quite translucent.

 The only gummy bear that survived was in the salt water, and he was quite inflated and jiggly!

New Arrivals

Thursday, July 17, 2014

We've got some new Busy Bags in the Youth Services department.  These fun activities help kids build important new skills. Play with them in the library or check them out and take them home!

July 2014 Early Literacy Calendar

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Download our July Early Literacy Calendar for some summer activities that encourage reading readiness!

Book Buzz July, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

When Life Gives You O.J. by Erica S. Perl
Ten-year-old Zelly is still adjusting to life in Vermont after leaving Brooklyn with her family to live with her Grandfather. Her family is Jewish and she finds there aren’t a lot of other Jewish families nearby, and this sometimes makes her feel uncomfortable. Summer has started and Zelly's best friend has left for camp, so she is a little bored. Plus she really, really wants a dog. Her eccentric Grandpa, also known as Ace, comes up with a sure fire plan to get her a dog… but he is the only one that thinks it is sure fire idea. Kristin (J Fiction)

Bad Kitty: Drawn to Trouble by Nick Bruel
For the 10th book in the Bad Kitty Series, Nick Bruel, the author, decided to clue children in on the process of making a book. In Drawn to Trouble, we follow our friend Bad Kitty through all sorts of adventures. We get to learn a little about the author and also get a very quick art lesson on how to draw that main character. As you read this book, you learn how an author creates a character and setting. You also learn in a very humorous way about conflict, antagonists, and how to develop a great story. This story is very funny and it does not disappoint. Jacquie (J Fiction)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel  by Ransom Riggs.  
Sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman has grown up hearing his grandfather’s stories about the monsters that hunted him in his youth and the enchanted orphanage where he sought refuge. Jacob thinks these stories are just a metaphor for the Nazis and the horrors of the second World War, that is until his grandfather is murdered and Jacob sees a terrifyingly real monster. Suddenly Jacob finds himself journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Perhaps his grandfather was telling the truth all along… Even if you’ve read the book, the graphic novel version is worth a second read.  Artist Cassandra Jean’s illustrations bring to life this “peculiar” story! Alia (Y Graphic)

Odessa Again by Dana Reinhardt
Have you ever wanted to go back in time to fix a mistake? What about just to make something go your way? This audiobook takes us on a journey with ten-year-old Odessa Green-Light after she discovers a time travel portal in her new attic bedroom. The trouble is, Odessa's time travel power becomes more limited each time she uses it, so she has to be sure to use it wisely. This is an exciting story about friendship and family with a slight hint of magic, and a fabulous narrator to boot. Cassie (J audio book)

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