As I am a dad and a blogger, I just happen to be in a group called Dad Bloggers (see the thing in the side bar). I am honored to be part of this group because I learn a lot from these gentlemen. Several of the dads also write real books. One of the dads, Mike Adamick, wrote a really cool book, Dad’s Book of Awesome Experiments, about science experiments you can do with your kids.
Mike gave me an advance copy of his book so that I could try the experiments out with my kids and review it before it was released. This book has many experiments that you can do with your kids to teach them about science by doing fun stuff. The nice thing is that the book is written so that your kids are the ones doing the work and dad (or mom) is the lab assistant. Really, your job is to handle the dangerous stuff like transporting boiling water or using scissors if your kids are young.
I read through the book when I first got it and noted several things right off the back. Mike doesn’t discourage failure. It is okay to make mistakes in science, and while it is okay if things go wrong, you just need to learn from what happened so it can be improved upon. Since my educational background is heavy in the sciences, I really appreciated this. Another thing I noted was that Mike points out that science is not just a “boy thing.” He has daughters, and wants them to be into science as well. Since I want my daughter to have science be an open career path for her, I support this.
Mike not only explains how to do the experiments, but why they work. This how they kids are learning about the science of thermodynamics, crystallization, force, pressure, temperature, biology, physics, and chemistry.
When the Dashing Son (who just turned 7) first saw the book, he went through it with gusto and marked the experiments he wanted to do first. I think at last count there were 20 he wanted to do “first.” Most of the ones he wanted to do involved either rocketry or sugar.
We have managed to do a couple of experiments since we got the book. The first one we did was the balloon rockets on a string. It is simple enough. Blow up a balloon, tape a straw to it, put a string through the straw and let it fly. The Dashing Son had some friends over and we tied the strings to the gutters of the house (there are hooks we use to hang Christmas lights) and they stood at the end of the driveway. They would see whose balloon made it the farthest.
We had some issues, like trying to get the boys to let go of the balloon, but not the string. They also didn’t have the lung power to blow up balloons, so I got to get rid of a bunch of hot air. But they really enjoyed it. So did the Dashing Wife and I, we forgot to take pictures. Bad Blogger!
The next experiment was the Mentos and Diet Coke Rocket. This was the one that the Dashing Son really, really, REALLY, wanted to do. It took some time to get it done because we don’t have Mentos and Diet Coke laying around the house. Once we bought some, the Dashing Son built his rocket out of a toilet paper tube (a paper towel tube cut in half may have been better) and some construction paper. He isn’t all that artsy, so he need some help getting the fins taped on and the nose cone fabricated.
Once his rocket was complete, and the Mentos were tasted tested for quality control, we went outside to launch the rocket. We did a count down for launch, (which was using a string to pull the Mentos holder out of the rocket, dropping them into the bottle of Diet Coke), and we pulled the bottle of soda over instead. First mistake! No worries, I talked to the Dashing Son about what we could do to fix it. He suggested that I hold the bottle of soda while he pulled the string.
I think he wanted to watch me get sprayed in the face by soda. I said that he was on the right track, but we needed something else, not someone else, to hold the bottle and got some bricks. I also adjusted the tab so it was looser and told him to get the string tight and pull harder next time. On the second try, it worked and we had a Diet Coke fountain that launched a rocket about 12 inches into the air.
Unfortunately, this was a one shot deal. We should have bought some 20 oz bottles, or gone with the generic Diet Cola.
Now that spring is fully here we are going to do some of the experiments with flowers that Mike has, including one that will make the petals of a flower turn different colors. Then we make rock candy using the science of crystallization.
This is a great book for kids of all ages. And it isn’t just for Dads, Moms can do the science too. The hardest part is not to do the experiments for your kids. Hands off parents!!! Let the do it for themselves. That’s how they learn. If you want to get a copy of Mike’s book, click the Amazon link below.