I3 Scientific Experiments

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Aim to develop a greater understanding of various scientific principles through activities, crafts and games. A selection of 4 activities that could last four weeks. Taken from the BB Company Section Discoverer Pro Pack Skills, Interests I-3


1 empty plastic water bottle
Lots of strips of newspaper
Paper mache mix (can be made using glue and water)
Piece of tough cardboard approx. 60cm X 60cm
Baking Soda
Red food colouring (Optional)
Empty Pringles tube
Utility knife
Drawing pan
Masking tape
Aluminium foil
Bright sunny day
Paint can with plastic lid
Black Paint
Size 10 sewing needle
Heavy duty aluminium foil
Opaque dark paper
Photographic paper
Sun Dial handout - template
Measuring jug
Zipper-lock sandwich bag
Paper towel
Tablespoon of baking soda


Activity 1 - Make your own Working Volcano

Aim: To create a working volcano model

Guide your young people through the following process:

Constructing Your Volcano:

1. Take the water bottle and cut off the top or the spout part.
2. Tape the water bottle with the open side up to the cardboard.
3. Crumple up lots of pieces of newspaper into balls but do not make the balls tight.
4. Place them around the water bottle and tape them to the cardboard and the water bottle. You should make it slope to the front and back. Don’t worry if at this stage it looks bad.
5. Take a strip of newspaper and dip it all the way in the paper mache mix so it is completely covered.
6. Put your pointer finger in the front of the strip on the top, and your thumb behind it. Pinch and slide your two fingers all the way down to the bottom of the strip to get off all the excess paper mache mix.
7. Put the very end of the newspaper strip at the very top of your volcano and make the rest of it go all the way down the volcano and if there is more, flat on the cardboard. It should be touching the volcano all the way down the volcano.
8. Do this all the way around the volcano and then apply a second layer. When finished, it should look somewhat like a volcano.

Painting Your Volcano:

9. Leave the paper mache for a minimum of 24 hours and then paint your volcano. A brown ‘earthy’ colour is best. To create a lava effect, you can do red streaks going down the volcano.

Creating An Eruption:
10. Pour the baking soda into the crater of your volcano, filling it roughly a quarter-way full.
11. Pour a small amount of vinegar into the crater. Stand back and watch an eruption of fining baking soda and vinegar!

Tips I Advice:
• This activity may need to be completed over several weeks.
• Try adding red food colouring to the vinegar mix to create a more realistic eruption-effect.

Safety Issues I Risk Assessment:
Ensure that participants use baking soda and vinegar with caution, and that it does not come into contact with Their eyes.

Activity 2 - Pin Hole Camera

Aim: To make a camera.


Instruct your young people to do the follow;

• Take the plastic lid off a Pringles® can and wipe out the inside. Draw a line with the marker around the can, about 5cm up from the bottom. Cut along mat line so The tube is in two pieces.
• The shorter bottom piece has a metal end. With the drawing pin make a hole in the centre of the metal.
• Put the plastic lid onto the shorter piece. Put the longer piece back on top. Tape all the pieces together.
• To keep light out of the tube, use a piece of aluminium of the foil to the tube. Wrap the foil all the way around closed.
• Go outside on a sunny day. Close one eye and hold the tube up to your other eye. Cup your hands around the opening of the tube to make the inside of the tube as dark as possible.
• Look around through the tube. The lid makes a screen that shows you upside-down colour pictures!

How does a hole In the bottom of a Prlngles® can make a picture?

The hole doesn't make the picture. The image is always there. All the hole does is make it possible for you to see it. If you hold a piece of white paper near a green object, some of that reflected light will shine on the paper but it won’t look like anything. That’s because light bouncing off the green object ends up overlapping with light bouncing off other coloured objects around it. The hole in the camera isolates a small part of the light, sorting a single image from the jumble. Only a few of the light rays reflecting off each point on the object are travelling in a direction that will let them pass through the hole. On the other side of the hole, these light rays reveal an image.

This kind of camera is called a camera obscura — which is Latin for “dark chamber.” The first camera obscuras were small rooms that were completely dark except for a tiny hole in a wall that let in a dot of sunlight. People in the room saw an image of the trees and sky on the wall opposite the hole-and were amazed when the image disappeared at sunset!

How to Take Pictures Using a Pinhole Camera
• To make a pinhole camera to accept roll or sheet film you can use any can That has a tight-fining top. You can use a pringles can, clean paint can.
• If the can you use has a plastic lid, you can paint the lid black. Be sure to paint it inside and out; then before using it, check to make sure no paint has chipped off. Chipped or peeling paint on the lid will allow light to enter the camera and ruin your pictures.
• Paint the inside of the camera body with dull black paint or line it with black paper to prevent light reflections.
• Make the pinhole opposite the removable end as it’s easier to attach the film here. You can make the pinhole in the box or the can itself, but it’s much easier to make it in a separate piece of heavy black paper or thin metal. Then fasten this piece over a larger hole cut in the centre of the permanent end of the can or box. Heat’-duty aluminium foil or the backing paper from Kodak roll film is good for this purpose.
• You’ll get the best results if the pinhole is about 0.03cm in diameter. You can make a hole this size by pushing a No. 10 sewing needle through The paper or metal to a point halfway up the needle shank. You’ll get a smoother hole if you rotate the needle as you push it through. If you’re using aluminium foil or paper, sandwich it between two lightweight cards while you make the pinhole. This will help you make a smoother, rounder hole.
• If you make the pinhole in a separate piece of black paper or metal, you should now make a hole 0.6cm or more in diameter in the centre of one end of the camera body. Then tape your pinhole in position over the centre of the hole. You can check your pinhole to make sure it’s perfectly round by looking through the back of the camera.
• To see if The image is clearly visible, aim the camera toward a printed page to determine if you can see the letters clearly.
• The shutter for the camera can be made out of a flap of opaque dark paper hinged with a piece of tape. You can use a small piece of tape to hold the shutter closed while you aren’t taking a picture.
• A viewfinder for a pinhole camera, while usually not necessary, can be made of cardboard or wire. The larger frame should be slightly smaller than the film size and located directly above the pinhole at The front of the camera, If the film isn’t square, The viewfinder should have its longer dimension parallel to the longer dimension of the film. The small frame is a sighting peephole directly above the film and squarely behind the centre of the large frame.
• When you aim your camera at subjects closer than 1.5m, tip the camera up slightly to allow for parallax (the difference between The view you see Through The viewfinder and the image recorded on the film). This effect is caused by the separation between the viewfinder and the pinhole,
• Load the camera either with film or fast photographic paper. Paper is easier to handle since you can load it into the camera under a safelight. If you don’t have a safelight, you can work by the light of a flashlight covered with several thicknesses of red cellophane paper placed over 2m away. Most film, on the other hand, must be handled in total darkness. Your choice of film or paper may depend in part on the exposure times. Paper, because it is less sensitive to light than film, will probably require an exposure of about 2 minutes for sunlit subjects. Film may require only 1 or 2 seconds for subjects in sunlight.
• When you have the size of paper or film you need, tape it firmly to the inside of the end of your camera opposite the pinhole. The emulsion should face the pinhole. The emulsion side of photographic paper is the shiny side. The emulsion on roll film is on the inside of the curl. Sheet film is identified by notches cut into one of the shorter sides. When you hold the film in a vertical position with the notches in the top edge toward the right side, the emulsion is facing you. Another way to determine the emulsion side of either paper or film is to touch both sides with a moistened finger. The emulsion side will feel slightly tacky. Test near the edge to avoid a fingerprint in the centre of the picture. You will need to tape down the four comers if you use cut-up roll film or paper. Taping two diagonal corners will work for sheet film. Close the camera, making sure the shutter is closed.
• To get clear, sharp pictures, you must keep your camera very still while the shutter is open. Use tape 2. or a lump of modelling clay to hold your camera to a table, windowsill, chair, rock, or other firm support.
• Lift the black paper to uncover the pinhole and keep The pinhole uncovered for the recommended 2 time.
• Cover the pinhole with the black paper between exposures.

Activity 3 - Make a Sun Dial

Aim: To tell the time using only a compass and the sun.

This activity will need to be done on a sunny day. Instruct your young people to do the following:

• Locate the north by either putting your compass on the ground and turning it so that the arrow and the “N” (for “North”) line up. OR. Go out at night and look for the North Star. (You may need a book of constellations to help you find it.) Mark an arrow on the ground that points toward the North Star. That’s geographic north. The North Star forms part of the Little Dipper handle and can be confused with the Big Dipper. Prevent confusion by using both the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia together. The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia are always directly opposite each other and rotate counter clockwise around Polaris, with Polaris in the centre. The Big Dipper is a seven star constellation in the shape of a dipper. The two stars forming the outer lip of this dipper are the “pointer stars” because they point to the North Star. Mentally draw a line from the outer bottom star to the outer top star of the Big Dipper’s bucket. Extend this line about five times the distance between the pointer stars. You will find the North Star along this line.
• Position your print-out of the Sun Dial’ template with the geographic north arrow (in the top right hand corner of the diagram) pointing toward geographic north. Remember to adjust for magnetic declination.
• Now follow The rest of the instructions on The ‘Sun Dial’ template

Tips I Advice:
• Why do I need to adjust for magnetic declination?

A compass needle (which is attracted to The magnetic field of the earth) points in a direction called magnetic north. That isn’t exactly The same as true north, or geographic north, which is the direction of the earth’s north pole. The Sun Dial uses geographic north as a reference point. If you don’t line up the diagram print-out with geographic north, the Sun Dial won’t give you the right time of day.

The difference between magnetic north and geographic north is called magnetic declination, and it’s different in different locations. When you position The Sun Dial according to The directions on the diagram, you are compensating for the magnetic declination of where you live, After you do this, the “Geographic North” arrow at the top of the diagram will be pointing to geographic north and your Sun Dial will work just fine.

• Why doesn’t the time on my Sun Dial exactly match the time on my watch?

The time you get from your Sun Dial is solar time, not standard time. The two aren’t exactly the same. According to solar time, it’s noon when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. But the sun is always moving across the sky which means that noon where you are is at a slightly different time than noon at a place a few miles to the east or west. If you are in the middle of a time zone, your Sun Dial will be fairly accurate. If you are at one edge of your time zone, the time on your Sun Clock (solar time) may differ from the time on your watch (standard time) by as much as forty minutes.

Activity 4 - Bubble Bomb

Aim: To create an exploding bubble bomb.

• Work out where you want to explode your Bubble Bomb. The bags often make a mess when they pop, so you may want to experiment outside. If it’s a rainy day, you can explode your Bubble Bombs
• It’s very important to use a bag without holes. To test the zipper-lock bag, put about half a cup of water into it. Zip it closed and turn it upside down. If no water leaks out, you can use that bag. Unzip it and pour out the water.
• Tear a paper towel into a square that measures about 12.5cm by 12.5cm. Put 1’/ tablespoons of baking soda in the centre of the square, then fold the square with the baking soda inside. This is the “Time Release Packet”.
• Pour into your plastic bag 2/, cup of vinegar and ¼ cup of warm water.
• Zip the bag halfway closed and then drop the Time Release Packet” into the vinegar. Zip the bag closed the rest of the way in a hurry. Shake the bag a little, put it in the sink or on the ground, and stand back! The bag will puff up dramatically and pop with a bang.

Tips / Advice
• Why does the Bubble Bomb explode?

The bubbles in the Bubble Bomb are filled with carbon dioxide, a gas that forms when the vinegar (an acid) reacts with the baking soda (a base). Most cakes rise because of bubbles in their batter. Those bubbles, like the ones in your Bubble Bomb, are created by the chemical reaction of an acid and a base.

Try using a different size of zipper-lock plastic bag. What do you think might happen? Do you think you’ll need to use more baking soda, vinegar, and water to make the bag explode? Try using cold water or hot water. Does changing the temperature change the results? How? Instead of using paper towel, make the “time release packet” using a different kind of paper, like toilet paper, tissue paper or notebook paper. What happened?

For full details see BB Discoverer Pro Pack Skills I3


  • bomb
  • camera
  • company
  • discover
  • discoverer
  • science
  • Science Tasks
  • science, creative, making
  • science, experiments
  • skills
  • Skills Badge
  • Skills Day
  • sun dial

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