Friday, February 18, 2011

Ocean Science Experiments

Excuse the terrible photo I took at 10 pm..
We got our whale mobile hung up yesterday, only instead of doing it as a mobile, I decided to hang the whales from the dinning room ceiling with our stars and planets. I know, kinda weird, but I thought it would be a new fun change of pace. Instead of strangers walking in my home and asking me why I have planets hanging from my ceiling they can now ask me absurd questions like, "Why are there whales hanging up there with the planets." And yes, Mom, I know exactly what you're thinking because I've all ready said it a half dozen times.. "There be whales here!" 

Shark Experiment
We also tried out a shark experiment, which was far less dangerous then going down to the beach to see if we could spot any. It turns out sharks don't have swim bladders, did you know that? We find a lot of swim bladders washed ashore, that's not too gross for you is it? Anyway, as it turns out sharks don't have swim bladders thus their ability to float comes from their liver. To test out how well this works we had to fill one balloon with water, one with air and one with oil. To be fair all our balloons should have been roughly been filled the same, and we were doing well until our oil balloon neck broke. Then my oil jar spilled, and I didn't have any cheap run of the mill oil in the house either.  Alas.. So I was only willing to spare a small amount of it for this experiment. The kids were really wowed by the results!

Fish Shapes
Next we all worked some clay into basic fish shapes. Yes, I promise those are really basic fish shapes! The idea was to make all these shapes based on a typical fish body shape. You had the string on them to pull them through the water.

Fish Experiment
We each took a turn pulling the string through the water to see which fish moved the easiest and which one was fastest and so on. We were pretty impressed by how some of them moved. The box shape, for instance, while not quick was so simple to steer where as some of the more aerodynamic fish were much more difficult to move around.

Fish School Experiment
We also had a go at making our own school of fish, or glitter in this instance. The idea was to understand why fish swim in schools. So we took a bit of water and put it in a jar and then dropped in some glitter glue (I'm not a fan of glitter..) and then mixed it up with a spoon. Then we mixed some more and mixed some more until everyone felt they'd had a really fair chance at mixing it up.

Fish Schools
It's a bit hard to capture a photo of this, but the idea was for each person to pick out a bit of glitter to keep their eye on then mix it all up and see if you could still tell which one was yours! Needless to say we all went cross eyed and grasped the concept of why swimming in a school was so important for fish. Which also brought to mind the tail end of an episode of Bondi Rescue that we'd watched where a school of fish were swimming in such perfect unison they started to shut the beach down thinking it was a shark. A couple of daring lifeguards went out to check the situation out and were amazed at what they really discovered.. a school of fish!

We also finished our ocean pie yesterday as well. It took me a ridiculous amount of time to get the thing done for them so they could assemble it. We didn't completely go with the recipe in the book. Instead I used some leftover sugar cookies to make a cookie crumb crust. I used a homemade vanilla puddling/custard recipe. I mashed frozen blueberries and mixed them with sweetener and corn starch to thicken them (my guys like blueberry sauce more then fresh blueberries). Anyway, this involved math and geography. The idea was to trace your pie plate on a paper and break it into tenths; Morgan did this. Then we cut 3 of the tenth's away and laid it on our filled pie shell so he could place the sliced strawberries as he wanted. Then we put the blueberries in the rest of the shell. Strawberries represent land and the blueberries represent water. I still think we should have used gooseberries or kiwi, but no one was opposed to strawberries!

As for the whale, well that was Morgan's idea. Both boys were quite taken by all our whale learning this week and we even had a whale experiment, but I don't seem to have photos of that. We cut a milk just so it had baleen and then we used some glitter (again) as plankton and tried out our baleen. Aussie milk jugs are not shaped like American milk jugs. Thus, while the experiment worked, it was a tad more difficult. We still got the point and had fun with it! To check out these experiments and more you can find them in the Awesome Ocean Science book!

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