This sensory experiment came about because of Engineer’s love of “colorful explosions”! Last week, Engineer was “Scientist of the Week” in his kindergarten class. He was so excited for this honor, and he’d been counting down the days all month long. The “Scientist of the Week” chooses an experiment to do in front of the rest of the class.
Engineer loves the “eruptions” that result when mixing vinegar and baking soda, so he knew he wanted his experiment to include these items. He also loves using food coloring in these experiments, so he asked if he could bring some along to school last week. I wasn’t too keen on this idea, fearing that there would be a food coloring disaster of some sort. As an alternative to the food coloring, I suggested using Jell-O to see if it would create the colorful explosions he loves so much.
Of course, we had to try the experiment out at home a few times, both before and after Engineer’s turn as “scientist of the week”. We used vinegar, baking soda, and a variety of Jell-O powders (strawberry, cherry, lemon, lime, blue raspberry, and orange). To start off, we mixed a bit of baking soda with each different Jell-O powder. Then Engineer added vinegar using plastic condiment bottles.
Here are some of Engineer’s observations:
~ “If we don’t use enough Jell-O, the color isn’t so bright.”
~ “The more Jell-O we put in, the better the color is.”
~ “It doesn’t smell like vinegar! It smells kind of like berries!”
~ “Even though it smells like berries, it REALLY doesn’t taste like berries. Yuck!”
~ “When I add more of that baking stuff [baking soda] and stir it all up, the explosion starts again!”
While this experiment might seem like “the usual” in regards to baking soda and vinegar, it really wasn’t. It turned out to be more of a sensory experience for Engineer than just using the basic baking soda and vinegar mixture. He used his sense of sight to observe the colors and the bubbles. He used his sense of hearing to listen to the sound the bubbles made as the vinegar reacted with the baking soda. His sense of touch was utilized as he popped the bubbles and used his fingers to mix the ingredients. Taste came into play when Engineer decided he just had to know if it tasted as good as it smelled.
The biggest sensory aspect, though, was in regards to the sense of smell. When the baking soda and vinegar reacted, the escaping carbon dioxide dispersed the Jell-O’s scent into the air. The more Jell-O powder we used, the more pervasive the scent was. Engineer and I were both excited about this result of the experiment.
What are some sensory science experiments you’ve done recently? I would love to hear about them!