All posts by marketingmedia

Plasma Ball + Fluorescent Bulbs = Light!

Light Bulbs Glow Without Wires.

This video shows how regular fluorescent lightbulbs can glow when brought close to a plasma ball found in many novelty shops. The bulbs glow because the electricity in the plasma globe is sent from the center of the ball at high frequencies, similar to radio waves. The gas inside of fluorescent bulbs react the the high frequency electricity and they begin to glow!

Yay Static!

What does 500,000 volts look like?

Imagine if every hair on your head was trying to get away from every other hair on your head. You would look a lot like Lewis in this video. Static is a kind of charge created by tiny parts of atoms called electrons. Electron repel away from each other. When Lewis’ hair got charged, the electrons on each hair repelled away from the electrons on other hair and Lewis ended up looking awesome!

So how can 500,000 volts be safe? Why didn’t Lewis get fried? The static electricity created by this generator (and by your feet rubbing on the carpet) has very little power moving it. In fact, static means “not moving.” It also mean that the static electricity in not strong enough to get into your body. It stays on the outside of your body until you touch the ground, and then it safely travels into the earth. Static electricity can have enough voltage to be dangerous. Lightning is static electricity with 100,000,000 volts!


Crazy Foam Experiment


Fun With Foam

Foam is fun! Check out this video to see our Fantastic Foamy Fountain in action. The experiment uses Hydrogen peroxide and dry yeast. Hydrogen peroxide is similar to water but it has an extra oxygen atom. This makes it more dangerous and only adults should handle the hydrogen peroxide.

When you add the yeast, it acts as a catalyst (a helper) to release the extra oxygen gas and the soap helps to create all the foam. Try it out yourself!

The second experiment with the giant foam eruption at the end used a more powerful hyrogen peroxide and a different chemical for a catalyst. The reaction happens very fast and gives off quite a bit of heat. It’s pure foam fun! I mean pure science.

Click here for experiment instructions.

What is the most poisonous animal in the world?

poison_frog“Poisonous animals” applies to animals that make you sick if you were to eat them. They may also use their poison as a defense against predators. Venomous animals generally use their venom to stun or kill other animals through a bite or sting. Despite what you may have heard, the “Daddy Long Legs” spider is NOT the most venomous animal at all. Some types are non-venomous and others have very little venom – and they are not even spiders!
So what is the most poisonous animal? That title goes to the poison arrow frogs of the rain forest. A drop of their venom the size of a pin head could kill a human. Just holding them is taking a risk on your life. Luckily, they have bright colors to alert you to their venomous status.

By the way, when it comes to VENOM, the Blue Ring Octopus is often considered the most venomous.


What are the steps to the Scientific Method?

The Scientific Method is an organized way of answering a science question. While different teachers and scientists have different versions of the Scientific Method, here are the typical six parts:

  1. Purpose- What do you want to learn?
  2. Research- Find out as much as you can.
  3. Hypothesis- Try to predict the answer to the problem. Another term for hypothesis is ‘educated guess’. This is usually stated like ” If I…(do something) then…(this will occur)
  4. Experiment- The fun part! Design a test or procedure to confirm or disprove your hypothesis.
  5. Analysis- Record what happened during the experiment. Also known as ‘data’.
  6. Conclusion- Review the data and check to see if your hypothesis was correct.

The scientific method is used all over the world every day to make new discoveries.



What is an owl pellet?

Owls are birds of prey. That means that they hunt the animals that they eat. After an owl eats the small rodents, birds, and bugs that are a part of its nightly diet, its stomach cannot digest the fur, bones, teeth, feathers, and insect shells from that food. These “extra” parts are formed into a tight PELLET inside the owl and are then are later SPIT UP by the owl. Pellets are usually about as big as an adult thumb and they are often dissected by students and scientist to help them learn exactly what owls eat and what kinds of small animals and bugs live in a particular area. If you get a chance to examine what is inside an owl pellet, you will be lucky, there is a lot to learn and it is surprisingly FUN!


Is a zebra white with black stripes or black with white stripes?

So, is a zebra white with black stripes or black with white stripes? Unfortunately, there is no true answer to this perplexing question. The reason is because the answer to this question comes down to a person’s perspective. Many zoologists would say that a zebra is white because its stripes end towards the belly and the belly is mostly white. Others would say that a zebra is black because if you shaved all the fur off a zebra the skin is, surprisingly,  mostly black. So the answer actually depends on who you ask and how you want to look at a zebra.


Why is the sky blue?

We have all wondered, at some point, why the sky is blue. Now is the time to find out – after all, someday your kids will probably ask YOU why the sky is blue! Ready?

The light that comes from the Sun is white. That white light is actually a mixture of all colors, but because they are mixed up we don’t see the separate colors just the white sunlight.

As the sun’s light passes through our atmosphere, the light becomes scattered by all the air and particles such smog and dust. The part of the sunlight that gets scattered the most is the blue part. That means that the blue gets separated from the other colors and we get a blue sky!

At sunset or sunrise, the sun is at a very low angle, so the rays pass through even more molecules and particles. This scatters the light even more, separating red, orange and yellow from the white light. The more particles, the more scattering.


What would a compass point to if you were at the North Pole?

Believe it or not, there are actually TWO North Poles – the one at the top of the earth and what is known as MAGNETIC NORTH. Magnetic north is actually in northern Canada, and that is where compasses point to.

Now, on to your question…if you were standing exactly on top of the magnetic north pole, your compass would point nowhere in particular since the place it is used to pointing to is at your feet! You should know that finding magnetic north is not always easy – the spot is actually moving about 10 miles northwest every year. Since it was discovered in 1831, magnetic north has traveled many miles from its original spot!


What is the difference between a moth and a butterfly?

A moth and a butterfly sure can look alike, and they both belong to the same insect family (Lepidoptera) but there are a few differences to look for so that you can tell them apart:

  • Butterflies usually rest with their wings closed, while moths rest with their wings open.
  • Butterflies have long, thin antenna, while moths have shorter feathery antennas.
  • Butterflies generally gather food during the day while moths are seen more at nighttime.
  • Most moths make a silky cocoon, while butterflies usually make a shiny chrysalis

By the way, did you know that the largest moth, the Atlas moth, can grow to be over 6 inches wide! That’s one big moth.


Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?


To really figure out if a tomato is a fruit or vegetable, you need to know what makes a fruit a fruit, and a vegetable a vegetable. The big question to ask is, DOES IT HAVE SEEDS? If the answer is yes, then technically, (botanically) you have a FRUIT. This, of course, makes your tomato a fruit. It also makes cucumbers, squash, green beans and pumpkins all fruits as well. Along with the fruit from a plant or tree, we can often eat the leaves (lettuce,) stems (celery,) roots (carrots,) and flowers (broccoli.) Many of these other parts of the plant are typically referred to as VEGETABLES. Now don’t go looking for tomatoes next to the oranges in your grocery stores; fruits like tomatoes and green beans are usually (alas, incorrectly) referred to as “vegetables” in most grocery stores and cookbooks.

Did you know… A tomato is the official “vegetable” of New Jersey and  the official fruit (and vegetable) of Arkansas.


What is the largest insect in the world?

If you are creeped out by bugs, brace yourself.  Insects can get pretty big, but what is the largest insect in the world? “Largest” is a relative term. A mouse is large to a flea, but not to a giraffe. So there are several different ways of measuring the size of an insect, most people would consider the largest insect to be the bulkiest and in this case the champion insect is the Acteaeom Beetle or Rhinoceros Beetle (Megasoma actaeon) from South Americ. The male beetles can be 9cms long by 5cms wide by 4cms thick…that’s one bulky bug!

 Rhinoceros Beetle

If you want to measure largest by overall size, check out the South American Longhorn Beetle (Titanus giganteus) these giants can be over 16cms in body length (not including antennae)

titanusSouth American Longhorn Beetle

One other beetle, the Hercules Beetle, (Dynastes hercules) is also well known for reaching 16cms in length though it is not nearly as heavy.

herculesHercules Beetle

By the way, insects are larger in other ways, the longest insect in the world is the Stick-Insect (Pharnacia serritypes), the females of which can be over 36cm long.


Why do we cry when we chop onions?

Ever cut an onion and started tearing up? Most people do. It turns out when you cut an onion, it releases a gas called, ready for this, Propanethiol S-oxide. When mixed with certain enzymes in the onion, it creates a sulfur gas. These gases then get to your eyes and create a mild acid which irritates the eyes.
Normally, your body would signal you to close your eyes. This, of course, is not a good idea if you are cutting an onion. The next best thing your eyes can do is to make tears to protect the eyes. Rubbing your eyes is a bad idea, since your hands are likely full of the tear making onion juice. So how do you keep from tearing up? There are many theories out there. I’ve heard some have had luck burning a candle near the chopping site. (Don’t try that without an adult.) Wearing safety goggles, however, should reduce the tears every time.


Why do our toes get wrinkled in the tub?

Believe it or not, scientists have debated this question of wrinkly toes and fingers for quite some time. Most of the skin we see on our bodies is actually dead skin! Our fingers and toes have especially thick layers of this dead skin (also called keratin.) When we get in the bath tub or pool, those dead skin cells absorb water. Just like a dry sponge absorbing water, the skin grows slightly in size and it begins to wrinkle. The longer you stay in the water, the more wrinkled your toes and fingers get! By the way, warm water usually wrinkles skin faster than cold water.

It’s worth noting that new research points to our bodies actively wrinkling our fingers and toes to give us better grip. Some studies show that people that have neurological problems with their fingers or toes do not wrinkle up as much.


The Exploding Lunch Bag

You will need

  • One small (sandwich size) zip-lock bag – freezer bags work best.
  • Baking soda
  • Warm water
  • Vinegar
  • Measuring cup
  • A tissue

What to do:

  1. Go outside – or at least do this in the kitchen sink.
  2. Put 1/4 cup of pretty warm water into the bag.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the water in the bag.
  4. Put 3 teaspoons of baking soda into the middle of the tissue
  5. Wrap the the baking soda up in the tissue by folding the tissue around it.
  6. You will have to work fast now – partially zip the bag closed but leave enough space to add the baking soda packet. Put the tissue with the baking soda into the bag and quickly zip the bag completely closed.
  7. Put the bag in the sink or down on the ground (outside) and step back. The bag will start to expand, and expand, and if all goes well…POP!

How’s it work?

Cool huh? Nothing like a little chemistry to to add fun to a boring afternoon. What happens inside the bag is actually pretty interesting – the baking soda and the vinegar eventually mix (the tissue buys you some time to zip the bag shut) When they do mix, you create an ACID-BASE reaction and the two chemicals work together to create a gas, (carbon dioxide – the stuff we breathe out) well it turns out gasses need a lot of room and the carbon dioxide starts to fill the bag, and keeps filling the bag until the bag can no longer hold it any more and, POP! Be sure to clean up well and recycle those plastic bags…have fun!


The project above is a DEMONSTRATION. To make it a true experiment, you can try to answer these questions:

  1. Will different temperature water affect how fast the bag inflates?
  2. What amount of baking soda creates the best reaction?
  3. Which size bag creates the fastest pop?

P.S. If you like this experiment, try the Film Canister Rocket.

Science Bob

Make your Own Volcano

You will need

  • A volcano – Talk to an art teacher about how to make a volcano out of paper mache or plaster. You can also use clay or if you’re in a hurry to make your volcano, use a mound of dirt outside.
  • A container that 35mm film comes in, and old pill bottle, a baby food jar, or similar size container.
  • Red and yellow food coloring (optional)
  • Vinegar
  • Liquid dish washing soap

What to do

  1. Go outside or prepare for some clean-up inside
  2. Put the container into the volcano at the top
  3. Add two spoonfuls of baking soda
  4. Add about a spoonful of dish soap
  5. Add about 5 drops each of the red and yellow food coloring

Now for the eruption!:
Add about an ounce of the vinegar into the container and watch what your volcano come alive.

A VOLCANO is produced over thousands of years as heat a pressure build up. That aspect of a volcano is very difficult to recreate in a home experiment. However this volcano will give you an idea of what it might look like when a volcano erupts flowing lava. This is a classic experiment in which a CHEMICAL reaction can create the appearance of a PHYSICAL volcano eruption. You should look at pictures of volcanoes to be familiar with the different types. (A SHIELD volcano, for example is the most common kind of volcano, and yet few people know about them) The reaction will bubble up and flow down the side like a real volcano (only much faster!) Look for videos of volcanoes erupting and be sure that you understand how heat and pressure work to really make volcanoes erupt.


The project above is a DEMONSTRATION. To make it a true experiment, you can try to answer these questions:

1. Does vinegar temperature affect how fast the volcano erupts?
2. Does the shape of the volcano affect the direction the eruption travels?
3. What can be added to the “lava” to slow it down and make it more like real lava?
4. What combination of vinegar and baking soda creates the biggest eruption?

Science Bob

Bend Water With Static Electricity

You will need

A dry plastic comb
An indoor faucet
A head full of clean dry hair.

What to do

1. Turn on the faucet and slowly turn down the water until you have a VERY thin stream of water flowing.

2. Take the plastic comb and brush it through your hair ten times.

3. Now slowly bring the comb close the the flowing water, (without actually touching the water) If all goes well, the stream of water should bend towards the comb! Magic you ask? Not really.

How does it work?

When you brushed that comb through your hair, tiny parts of the atoms in your hair, called ELECTRONS, collected on the comb. These electrons have a NEGATIVE charge. Remember that, its important. Now that the comb has a negative charge, it is attracted to things that have a POSITIVE charge. It is similar to the way some magnets are attracted to certain metals.

When you bring the negatively charged comb near the faucet it is attracted to the POSITIVE force of the water. The attraction is strong enough to actually pull the water towards the comb as it is flowing! If you want to try another experiment with your comb, tear up pieces of tissue until they are as a small as you can get them…I mean really small! Then charge your comb again by brushing it through your hair, and bring it close to the tiny pieces of tissue. If the pieces are small enough they will jump off the table to the comb the same way that the water was pulled to the comb.It is all thanks to the wonders of static electricity.


The project above is a DEMONSTRATION. To make it a true experiment, you can try to answer these questions:

1. Does water temperature affect how much the water bends?
2. Does the size of the comb affect the static power?
3. Does the amount of moisture in that air affect the static power? Try it after someone has taken a shower in the room.
4. Does the material that the comb is made of affect the static power?

Science Bob

A Color Symphony

You will need

A flat tray (like a cookie baking tray)
Food coloring (at least 3 different colors)
Whole milk – low fat milk will not work for this experiment
Liquid soap used for washing dishes

What to do

Carefully pour the milk into the tray so that it just covers the bottom
Add about 6-8 drops of different colored food coloring onto the milk in different spots
Add about 5 drops of the liquid soap onto the drops of food coloring and watch the show!
To clean up, simply pour the colored milk down the drain. (don’t drink it!)

How does it work?

So you know where the color comes from, but why milk and liquid soap? The main job of dish soap it to go after fat and break it down. Usually the fat is on dishes from the food we eat, but fat is also in whole milk. When you drop the liquid soap onto the tray, it tried to break down the fat in the milk. While it was doing that, it caused the colors to scatter and mix creating a very colorful display. Have fun!


The project above is a DEMONSTRATION. To make it a true experiment, you can try to answer these questions:

1. What liquid dish soap works the best?

2. Does the shape of the tray affect the reaction?

Science Bob

Make a Paperclip Float

You will need

clean dry paper clips
tissue paper
a bowl of water
pencil with eraser

What to do

Fill the bowl with water
Try to make the paper clip float…not much luck, huh?
Tear a piece of tissue paper about half the size of a dollar bill
GENTLY drop the tissue flat onto the surface of the water
GENTLY place a dry paper clip flat onto the tissue (try not to touch the water or the tissue)
Use the eraser end of the pencil to carefully poke the tissue (not the paper clip) until the tissue sinks. With some luck, the tissue will sink and leave the paper clip floating!

How does it work?

How is this possible? With a little thing we scientists call SURFACE TENSION. Basically it means that there is a sort of skin on the surface of water where the water molecules hold on tight together. If the conditions are right, they can hold tight enough to support your paper clip. The paperclip is not truly floating, it is being held up by the surface tension. Many insects, such as water striders, use this “skin” to walk across the surface of a stream.


The project above is a DEMONSTRATION. To make it a true experiment, you can try to answer these questions:

1. How many paperclips can the surface tension hold?

2. Does the shape of the paperclip affect its floating ability?

3. What liquids have the strongest surface tension?

4. Can the surface tension of water be made stronger? (try sprinkling baby powder on the surface)

Science Bob

Blow Up a Balloon with Yeast

You will need

A packet of yeast (available in the grocery store)
A small, clean, clear, plastic soda bottle (16 oz. or smaller)
1 teaspoon of sugar
Some warm water
A small balloon

What to do

1. Fill the bottle up with about one inch of warm water.
( When yeast is cold or dry the micro organisms are resting.)
2. Add all of the yeast packet and gently swirl the bottle a few seconds.
(As the yeast dissolves, it becomes active – it comes to life! Don’t bother looking for movement, yeast is a microscopic fungus organism.)
3. Add the sugar and swirl it around some more.
Like people, yeast needs energy (food) to be active, so we will give it sugar. Now the yeast is “eating!”

4. Blow up the balloon a few times to stretch it out then place the neck of the balloon over the neck of the bottle.
5. Let the bottle sit in a warm place for about 20 minutes
If all goes well the balloon will begin to inflate!

How does it work?

As the yeast eats the sugar, it releases a gas called carbon dioxide. The gas fills the bottle and then fills the balloon as more gas is created. We all know that there are “holes” in bread, but how are they made? The answer sounds a little like the plot of a horror movie. Most breads are made using YEAST. Believe it or not, yeast is actually living microorganisms! When bread is made, the yeast becomes spread out in flour. Each bit of yeast makes tiny gas bubbles and that puts millions of bubbles (holes) in our bread before it gets baked. Naturalist’s note – The yeast used in this experiment are the related species and strains of Saccharomyces cervisiae. (I’m sure you were wondering about that.) Anyway, when the bread gets baked in the oven, the yeast dies and leaves all those bubbles (holes) in the bread. Yum.


The project above is a DEMONSTRATION. To make it a true experiment, you can try to answer these questions:

1. Does room temperature affect how much gas is created by the yeast?
2. Does the size of the container affect how much gas is created?
3. What water/room temperature helps the yeast create the most gas?
4. What “yeast food” helps the yeast create the most gas? (try sugar, syrup, honey, etc.)

Science Bob


You will need

* 1/4 cup of water
* 1/4 cup of white craft glue (like Elmer’s glue)
* 1/4 cup of liquid starch (used for clothes)
* Food coloring (optional)
* Mixing bowl
* Mixing spoon

What to do

Pour all of the the glue into the mixing bowl.
Pour all of the water to the mixing bowl with the glue.
Stir the glue and water together.
Add your food color now – about 6 drops should do it.
Now add the liquid starch and stir it in.
It should be nice and blobby by now. As you play with your slimy concoction, it will become more stretchy and easier to hold.
Explore your slimy creation and store it in a zip bag when you are not using it.

How does it work?

The glue is a liquid polymer. This means that the tiny molecules in the glue are in strands like a chain. When you add the liquid starch, the strands of the polymer glue hold together, giving it its slimy feel. The starch acts as a cross-linker that links all the polymer strands together.

The project above is a DEMONSTRATION. To make it a true experiment, you can try to answer these questions:

1. Does changing the amount of water or glue change the feel of the slime?

2. Do different glues make better slime?

3. How does changing the amount of each ingredient change how the slime turns out?

4. What happens to slime if it is stored out of a bag compared to in a bag?

Science Bob


I know, it’s not exactly an experiment, but illusions are still cool.
Illusions are images that use your EYES to confuse your BRAIN

Take a look at this grid:


Did you notice the small grayish dots between the black boxes. They are not part of the drawing – they were put there by your brain! Scientists call this “visual vibration.” Basically it means that when you see patterns of black and white, your eye sometimes confuses the two and blends them into patterns of gray that you see here. You are seeing something that is not really there!


Whoa! Is that image spinning? Nope, not even a little bit. In fact, if you look away, it will seem to stop spinning. It’s all in your brain…. The repeated patterns and lines trick your brain into thinking that there is movement as it tries to make sense of the image. Pretty cool, huh?


elephant_illusionsThis elephant is missing a leg…or is it? The artist confuses his
viewer by changing they way our brain is used to seeing things.
It seems the more you look at the elephant, the more confusing it gets.

spiraldotWant to see the gears move?
Look at the dot and then move your head towards the screen and away from it.


This uses visual vibrations to create a cool effect. Try moving your head close to, and then away from the screen. The fuzzy dots appear to move.


This simple line drawing is titled, “Mother, Father, and daughter” (Fisher, 1968) because it contains the faces of all three people in the title.How many faces can you find?


Look at the dots in the center. Which one is bigger? Like many similar illusions, the dots are the same size…really! It can be hard to tell because your eye uses the other dots to make a comparison.


Check out the spiral…except it is not a spiral, just circles.
Don’t believe me? Use your finger to follow the fake spiral.
The tilt of the boxes fools your brain into believing it is a spiral.


Hey, this is weird. Click on the image to make it bigger. It looks as though it’s moving, but it’s not. The shapes confuse the eye (really the brain) into believing that they are moving.


You will need

A large iron nail (about 3 inches)
About 3 feet of THIN COATED copper wire
A fresh D size battery
Some paper clips or other small magnetic objects

What to do

1. Leave about 8 inches of wire loose at one end and wrap most of the rest of the wire around the nail. Try not to overlap the wires.
2. Cut the wire (if needed) so that there is about another 8 inches loose at the other end too.

3. Now remove about an inch of the plastic coating from both ends of the wire and attach the one wire to one end of a battery and the other wire to the other end of the battery. See picture below. (It is best to tape the wires to the battery – be careful though, the wire could get very hot!)
4. Now you have an ELECTROMAGNET! Put the point of the nail near a few paper clips and it should pick them up!
NOTE: Making an electromagnet uses up the battery somewhat quickly which is why the battery may get warm, so disconnect the wires when you are done exploring.

How does it work?

Most magnets, like the ones on many refrigerators, cannot be turned off, they are called permanent magnets. Magnets like the one you made that can be turned on and off, are called ELECTROMAGNETS. They run on electricity and are only magnetic when the electricity is flowing. The electricity flowing through the wire arranges the molecules in the nail so that they are attracted to certain metals. NEVER get the wires of the electromagnet near at household outlet! Be safe – have fun!


The project above is a DEMONSTRATION. To make it a true experiment, you can try to answer these questions:

1. Does the number of times you wrap the wire around the nail affect the strength of the nail?

2. Does the thickness or length of the nail affect the electromagnets strength?

3. Does the thickness of the wire affect the power of the electromagnet?

Science Bob


You will need

* A clear drinking glass
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil
* 1 teaspoon salt
* Water
* Food coloring (optional)

What to do

Fill the glass about 3/4 full of water .
Add about 5 drops of food coloring – I like red for the lava look.
Slowly pour the vegetable oil into the glass. See how the oil floats on top – cool huh? It gets better.
Now the fun part: Sprinkle the salt on top of the oil.
Watch blobs of lava move up and down in your glass!
If you liked that, add another teaspoon of salt to keep the effect going.

How does it work?

So what’s going on? Of course, it’s not real lava but it does look a bit like a lava lamp your parents may have had. First of all, the oil floats on top of the water because it is lighter than the water. Since the salt is heavier than oil, it sinks down into the water and takes some oil with it, but then the salt dissolves and back up goes the oil! Pretty cool huh?


The project above is a DEMONSTRATION. To make it a true experiment, you can try to answer these questions:

1. How long will the effect go on if you keep adding salt?

2. Do different kinds of food oil give different effects?

3. Will other substances (sand, sugar. etc.) work the same as salt?

4. Does the height or shape of the glass affect the experiment?

Science Bob