Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day Activity: Oil vs. Water Experiment

Happy Earth Day!
   I started my rainy morning by going to Target to pick up a few groceries for the week and ended up stranded in the Starbucks cafe for about 15 minutes because of the crazy downpour! And while I was there, I picked up some coffee (of course) and threw in another $1 to purchase this cool reusable Starbucks cup. How's that for environmentally conscious? =)
   As I was debating what to teach my little munchkin about Earth Day (without being repetitious from the things she was going to learn in school), I decided to tie our Earth Day learning with a little science experiment. I have been eyeing Oil & Water exploration, so I used that as a tie in to the lesson, especially after reading a post from Secondgradealicious. I knew I could take it down a notch or two to bring it to the level of understanding for my little one.
 But FIRST: The Oil & Water Exploration:
For this little experiment, we used baby oil and some food coloring and water and a small baking dish.
(The feathers come into play later.)
    Actually, any kind of oil will do. I just chose baby oil because it is clear. But if you are working with younger children, any type of cooking oil may be best, in case little fingers go into the mouth.)
     I poured baby oil into the dish, probably less than halfway. I filled each little cup with water and added abour 4 drops of food coloring to the water.
    Before we started, I asked: 
"What do you think will happen when we put the colored water inside this dish full of oil?"
Here were her answers:
1) It will mix and then change colors.
2) It will explode.
Can you see how much she loves these little experiments? 
    She remembers what has happened in previous experiments and is now trying to apply that learning to something new!
And here is what she discovered:
    When she dropped colored water into the dish full of baby oil with a dropper, it created bubbles, both big and small.
 (The natural reaction of water and oil is that they will not mix and they will remain separate.)
She was so into the exploration, especially when she started to try and mix the colors.
    Then I went on to talk about geese and ducks that swim in the water, just like the ones we saw when we went on a nature hike this past weekend. I briefly told her how some boats that are in the water carry oil and sometimes the oil spills into the water and it isn't safe for the animals that live in the water. 
   Then she surprised me and asked if we could make the Earth using only green and blue. (It was like she knew where I was going with this experiment!) I dumped the colorful oil, refilled the dish and she mixed in green and blue water to create Earth.
I gave her some feathers and asked her to put them in the oil.
    Then I asked her to take it one out and feel it. I took her descriptions of the oil (slimy, sticky) and told her that when the oil gets in the water and onto the feathers of some animals that swim in the water, they feel slimy and sticky, making it hard for them to move or swim to find food. Sadly, sometimes they drink the oil and they could die. 
I asked her to brainstorm ways in which she could get the oil off. She immediately grabbed a napkin to wipe off the oil, only to find out that it really didn't help much at all- the feather was still slippery and slimy.
    Then she suggested putting them into a cup of water, which kind of helped but did not remove the oil right away. After taking some time to conclude the experiment and talk about why Oil Spills are dangerous for the Earth and the animals, she asked for more feathers and continued to play in the oil, as if the feathers were a family of ducks!
   She seemed a little interested in the whole oil spill topic and how it hurts the Earth and the animals. I think I am going to purchase this book for her, so we can learn little bit more!
All in all, this was a GREAT Earth Day Learning Activity for her!

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