Morning Meeting and AM Activity: Since Mommy Summer School was not in operation mode on Day 3, we doubled-up on discussion and activities today. The whole focus of the entire morning was different things that water can do. We covered so much in a few hours that I think it would be easiest for this post if I just write in list format in the order in which we covered the basics of water science.
1. I explained that water can be in three different forms, or what scientists call properties. Next I told the boys that I was going to read them a book about the three properties of water, and I wanted them to be able to tell me what they are when I finished reading it. I then read aloud It Could Still be Water by Allan Fowler, a Rookie Read-About Science book. Luke was able to easily remember liquid and solid as two of the three properties, but he couldn’t remember gas as the third property. Actually, the book didn’t use the term “gas” but talked about vapor, fog, mist, and steam as examples of the third property. As Luke reviewed what he had learned from the book and where we see water in those three properties in or around our house, I recorded a brief account of his ideas on our large paper. Obviously along with our conversation, I introduced the concepts of melting, freezing, evaporation, and condensation.
2. We headed into the kitchen for a little demonstration of the three properties of water. We started by putting two ice cubes in a pot on the stove with the heat on medium. I asked the boys if they could predict what would happen to the solid water. They guessed right away that it would melt into liquid water. Luke wanted to then make estimations on how long it would take for the solid to turn into liquid. We each shared our estimate, then hit start on the stopwatch on my iPhone. This was actually a brilliant idea of Luke’s because I think the boys would have gotten a little bored staring at the stove waiting for the different phases to take place. As you can see from the pic below, Noah wanted Luke to protect him from the heat radiating out from the stove. Awww, I love when these brothers are sweet to one another:
Once the ice cubes melted, I kicked the heat up to high to demonstrate boiling. While the water was heating to a boil, I took the opportunity to explain the concept of evaporation and, of course, liquid water turning into its third property. Once again, we estimated how long it would take for all of the liquid water in the pot to evaporate. As the steam started to rise from the pot, I had the boys hold their hands over the steam long enough to feel their hands get slightly damp to reinforce the idea that the steam is still water. Luke was particularly fascinated by this and just kept expressing his incredulity at the fact that the water doesn’t just disappear from the pot but that it still exists as water, just in a different form.
3. Luke wanted to “make vapor” again, so I kept the high heat on the burner and gave him a glass full of water to pour in knowing that it immediately would make that awesome popping and puffing that comes from putting a bunch of cold water on something really hot. Before he poured it in, I asked him to estimate how long it would take for the liquid water to evaporate this time. As I could have guessed, his response was, “Well, the same as last time, right?” It was fun to watch his face and hear his cry of, “Whoa!” when the water didn’t remain in the pot and pretty much instantly turned into steam. As the steam billowed up, I showed Luke how he could hold the glass over the pot and “catch” the steam in the glass. That gave me the opportunity to talk about condensation. Lastly, I gave Noah a glass, too, and showed them how they could catch vapor from their breath in the glasses to also create condensation. Such a simple, simple thing, but they just thought this was so amazing! Reflecting on this later, I remembered how enamored I was with my elementary school teachers when they would do these simple scientific demonstrations or basic experiments. I’m pretty sure that I thought they had magical powers or something! This train of thinking reminded me that I needed to follow up with the boys on how our kitchen water play is just another of a gazillion examples of how creative and intentional Our Creator God was when he made the world we live in.
4. We moved into another cool thing that water can do–it can dissolve certain substances. I wrote the word DISSOLVE on a piece of our large paper and asked the boys to explain what it means. Luke instantly pointed out that it sounds like “solve” and he drew a circle with his finger around the latter part of the word, so his guess was that it has something to do with figuring out a problem. Even though he was wrong, obviously, I was impressed with his wordsmithing! I kept our definition very simple: when water breaks down a substance put into it and the substance becomes part of the water. The easiest way I could think of to demonstrate this was to make a powdered drink mix. I happened to have some Crystal Lite Peach Iced Tea mix on hand which my boys both actually like, although I don’t give it to them very often.
As Noah was mixing up the iced tea, I realized that we could use a portion of it to demonstrate how a liquid turns into a solid by making peach iced tea popsicles. The boys can’t WAIT to eat them! I’m wondering if they will really taste that great… (By the way, Julie Falke, if you are reading this post, I got these popsicle molds at one of your swaps. We have used them SO many times!)
While I was digging in the pantry for the iced tea mix, I spotted about a dozen boxes of Jello mix that I had bought back in February to make Jello jigglers for Luke’s class snack. A trip to New Jersey while Daddy was in Kenya resulted in us getting stuck in New Jersey longer than expected when I came down with a nasty stomach bug, and I sent my mom to the store for a few boxes of fruit roll-ups in place of the jigglers. But hey, I love when I find uses for things in my house later on, so it wasn’t money completely wasted. The boys were totally stoked about making Jello, and I was excited about another opportunity to demonstrate dissolving. Of course, each boy just HAD to make his own bowl of Jello which is a bit more than we really need to have in the fridge at one time, so they have been feasting off it with practically every meal and snack since making it. I happened to get a little gob on my finger at one point while rinsing off dishes, and I have to admit, cherry lemonade Jello isn’t half bad! Wow, Jello flavors have become so much more exotic since I was a kid.
5. To continue our experimentation with dissolving, we did an art project featured on my favorite Mommy blog: I Am Momma, Hear Me Roar. Here’s the link for these simple polka dot dissolving pictures. I will refer back to this project later on with the boys when we touch on a third cool thing that water does–it moves (capillary action).
Weekly Outing: I planned an afternoon at Volcano Island Water Park at Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling. We have been to a few of the Fairfax County regional park water parks but had never been to this one. I didn’t tell the boys where we were going, but I again gave them some clues. I told them that part of the name of the place was an island, that they needed to wear bathing suits, and that we should bring sunscreen and a water jug. Luke was convinced that we were going on some sort of rugged adventure! When I pulled up to the park, they both started screaming with elation, “It’s a water park! It’s a water park!” I had only planned on us staying for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, but 5 hours later the boys were still going strong and were having an absolute blast. It was quite the relaxing day for me, too, since Noah was able to be completely independent in all of the areas of the park that he was allowed in by his height. And with the way the park was set up, I could sit in a chair by Noah and still keep an eye on Luke on the bigger slides. I am loving that we are at the point where I can get in the water BY CHOICE!!!
It was also really fun to see the boys spending so much time playing together. I have noticed such a difference this summer with Noah being one year older. The gap is closing in terms of their interests and what they are and aren’t able to do together. Luke truly seems to enjoy being with Noah and looking out for him (he was an outstanding big brother ALL DAY!), and Noah is enough of a little beast to be able to hang with Luke but also not afraid to tell Luke that he’s had enough and needs to take a break.
The biggest hit of the park was the giant 500-gallon dumping bucket that would fill up in the water playground area every few minutes. The bell would start clanging, and Luke and Noah–along with every other kid in that part of the park–would come barreling through the water to get right underneath the bucket. When the boys said that the bucket was the last thing they wanted to do, I decided that I would jump in there with them but not tell them that I was going to do that. They were laughing hysterically when I ran out and got drenched, sunglasses and all!
As we said “Adios” to Volcano Island…
…and ventured back home all wrinkly like raisins from our fun in the water, I knew it had been another victory for Mommy Summer School.