Friday, 7 June 2013

Messy science: Oily Mixtures

To encourage Jasmine's innate love of science, I have been looking into simple experiments that we can conduct at home.  Fortunately for us, her grandmother is a chemistry teacher, so has given us lots of pointers.

Today, we had a little play with oil.  First, we mixed one cup of oil with one cup of vinegar and surveyed the results.

Once it was evident that the two liquids would not mix, I asked Jasmine to stir them vigorously.  She watched the colour change and declared that they were now mixed together.  However, of course, they soon separated again.

Jasmine came up with an interesting theory as to why oil and vinegar will not mix - "It is because their colours are too similar.  Oil and water will mix much better because they have opposite colours."

Now, while I know this to be untrue, I invited Jasmine to find out for herself in a new experiment.  This time, we used half a cup of oil and half a cup of water.  Jasmine poured the two liquids into a glass, fully expecting them to combine. 

When they didn't, she was, momentarily, flummoxed.


Oh indeed.

She thought about what we could do to mix the oil and water; first of all, she decided that giving them a stir would do the trick. 

When this didn't work, she wondered if adding vinegar to the glass would have an effect.  Then she looked at the other glass, the one with the oil and vinegar still inside it, and decided that this probably would be a pointless exercise.

So, taking inspiration from this post about washing up, I asked Jas to squeeze some washing up liquid into the glass and then to stir it.

This simple action transformed two separate components into a compound, which, according to Jas, looked like "a yummy banana milkshake"!

Finally, being Jasmine, she just had to get her hands dirty!  She asked me to pour both glasses of oily mixtures into a bowl so that she could find out what they felt like.

These experiments were lovely, simple introductions to science; perfect for little people.  Though they may not understand the scientific reasoning behind what they see, the process will usually be enjoyable for them and therefore the causes and effects will stick in their mind.

 The next stop on our scientific adventure is displacement.  I am looking forward to this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment