My Life: Ben’s Lab Science Party

My big guy recently celebrated his 10th birthday, and in honor of reaching double digits, I knew I had to do something special.  He’s always preferred celebrating his birthdays with a small group of friends so he can spend time with them all, and chose to have a sleepover.  When I went to send out the Evite, I saw there was a ‘mad science’ themed one, and thus the idea was born.  I spent the next several weeks scouring Pinterest and collecting supplies, and the result was an epic collection of age appropriate science experiments that the kids absolutely loved! 

Décor and Lab Gear

For the décor, I created a banner out of the periodic table of elements, and another birthday bunting.  I printed them on some bright card stock, punched holes, and threaded through some string.  I also purchased disposable lab coats and safety glasses for the kids, which were to promote actual lab safety, as well as looking super cute in photos, and bowties, which served no purpose other than to make it fun, and look cute in photos.  We also got a custom t-shirt for the birthday boy to match the banner.  Instead of cake, he wanted donuts, and since they weren’t decorated, I decorated a paper, which I adhered to the inside of the box lid, facing both out and in.

A lot of the lab experiment materials came from Steve Spangler Science.  I discovered them through another science party I read about in my Pinterest search.  While some of what I purchased from them could have been made on my own, I appreciated the convenience of their kits, having never performed the experiments before.  I am not a spokesperson for, nor did I receive any compensation for discussing these products, I’m just sharing how I planned for this party.
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Bubbling Lava Lamp (i.e. Bubbling Concoction)

Our first experiment was to create a lava lamp effect by mixing oil with a little bit of water and food coloring.  The water sinks to the bottom.  When you add Alka-Seltzer tablets, the air bubbles carry the colored water to the top, and back down when they pop.  When the reaction stops, adding more tablets gets it going again.  You can do this yourself with water bottles, or buy the Bubbling Concoction kit from Steve Spangler Science.  We went the latter route, b/c test tubes just look cool at a science themed party!  These particular giant test tubes are pretty neat in and of themselves.  They are called ‘baby soda bottles’, because they are actually the preform of the plastic that turns into 2L bottles of soda when heated in a mold!  Each pair of boys got to watch their own reaction, then we lined up all the tubes in the rack for a pretty rainbow effect.  To see it in action, check out his video here.2048-58552048-5874 (2)2048-58792048-5884

Acid/Base Balloons

I’m sure most people are familiar with what happens when you mix Acetic Acid (Vinegar) with Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda).  They react, leaving water and carbon dioxide.  Well, if you put some vinegar in an empty water bottle and some baking soda in a balloon, when you turn the balloon over to empty the baking soda into the bottle, the reaction starts, and the air is captured in and fills up the balloon!  Too bad I was holding the camera when I went first, because I basically screamed the whole time, afraid my balloon would pop!  I had watched an explanatory video to learn the experiment prior to the party, and he popped his balloon, which kind of freaked me out!  I had my mom join me to assist in the lab, and I was able to capture her reaction, though!  Despite his popped balloons, we loved Science Bob’s explanation of this experiment, because the cartoon depicts it perfectly.  The balloons and vinegar were from the dollar store, and the water bottles were reused before they were recycled!2048-58902048-58912048-58952048-5903

Magic Sand

The sand is coated with a substance like Scotch Guard, which makes it hydrophic, meaning water-fearing.  If you want to see it in action, check out the Steve Spangler video on YouTube.  You can buy some there too.  Each child was given a little clear cup with some magic sand to experiment with, and they had fun feeling the sand clump together under water, but fall apart dry when you take it out of the water!  A thin layer will also float on top of the water, and you can gently touch it and your finger will stay dry as long as you don’t break the surface tension!  2048-59082048-5911

Insta Snow

Insta Snow is a powdery polymer, similar to what’s inside of baby diapers, which absorbs water, and grows to take on the texture of snow!  These Florida boys had a blast with it, and kept requesting more powder and more water for more fun!  To begin, each child was given a small scoop of powder in their hand.  When the water was poured over it, they felt it expanding and overflowing into the trays below!  Then we put two scoops of powder in the little clear cups, filled it with water, and watched the snow fill up the cup!  See a video of how it works here, and buy some here.  For those of you who love Amazon Prime, they have it too.
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8 Layer Density Column

This one was done as a demo by the adults, because as much as my dining room chairs could use some new upholstery, it didn’t need to be because of spilled food coloring at the birthday party.  We chose to do one of the columns in order from most dense to least to create the layers typically seen with this experiment, and the other column was created in reverse order.  Our hypothesis was that the layers in the second column would separate overnight, but what ended up happening was the oil stayed on top, with a big blog of miscible fluids in the middle, and the heavier syrups at the bottom.  We used Steve Spangler’s nine layer density column, minus the colored lamp oil at the top, because we were unable to find it locally.  Check out his longer video here with explanation, and shorter demo here.  The container is a 9” glass cylinder vase from Hobby Lobby.  It took me a while to figure out what it was, until I heard Steve called it a ‘vase’ in the longer video.  A quick Google search led me to the right product.
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Elephant Toothpaste

This experiment is known as ‘Elephant’s Toothpaste’, because the foam that results looks like it could be used to brush an elephant’s teeth!  Our favorite explanation of this one was from Science Bob again, because he has another great cartoon to explain it.  6% Hydrogen Peroxide (found at the beauty supply store), food coloring, and soap go into the bottle first.  Yeast and warm water are mixed separately.  When poured into the bottle, a ‘fantastic foamy fountain’ results!
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Mentos Geyser

The grand finale of an already fantastic party was, of course, the Mentos Geyser.  You can do these manually, but because it makes it easier, and makes a fun party favor, we got the Mentos Geyser tubes from Steve Spangler Science.  Instead of having all 9 boys erupt their geysers at once, we decided to do them one at a time.  If we did them all at once, when it’s all done and you want to do it again, the fun is kind of over!  Doing them one at a time, we got to watch the reaction 9 times!  What causes this reaction is that the rough surface on the mentos causes the CO2 in the soda to burst from the bottle!  The boys sipped the soda afterwards to confirm it was flat.2048--22048-60652048--32048-6056

Happy Birthday and Flubber

Last but not least, they changed into PJs, sang happy birthday and had their donuts, and watched the movie ‘Flubber’.  Of course we had to pick something science themed to go with the party!2048-6074 (2)2048-6091