Kids at Home with MPPL Category: STEAM Saturday

STEAM Saturday: Ice Experiments

Did you know that salt lowers the temperature of ice water? To see this process happen, try making ice cream with only a few ingredients.

Materials Needed:
  • 1 Gallon Zip Bag
  • 2 Sandwich Zip Bags
  • 1/3 Cup Rock Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Ice (enough to fill 1/2 of the gallon zip bag)
  • Gloves
homemade ice cream ingredients
  1. In one sandwich zip bag, combine the milk, sugar, and vanilla extract together. Then, zip the bag close.
  2. Put the zipped bag with the mixture in the second sandwich zip bag and zip this one closed. This gives your mixture extra protection.
  3. In the gallon zipped bag, make sure there is enough ice to fill 1/2 of the bag. Then, add the rock salt to the ice.
  4. Place your sandwich zip bags with the mixture into the gallon zip bag of ice and salt. The, zip the gallon zip bag close.
  5. Put on your gloves and shake your gallon zip bag for 10 minutes.
  6. After 10 minutes, take you sandwich bags out and open them to tasty vanilla ice cream.

There are many different recipes to make ice cream like this on the internet. We found this one on the Happy Toddler Blog.

Lift Ice Cubes with Chemistry

After making your tasty treat, learn more about salt and ice including why it is used on snowy roads in the winter. You can even learn how to make a piece of yarn to stick to ice with this experiment from Scientific American.

ice stuck to piece of yarn
Photo credit to Scientific American

Insects in Winter

How do insects survive the long, cold winter? In several different ways!

Some Overwinter as Eggs

Praying mantids spend the winter as eggs, waiting for the warmer spring temperatures to hatch. Both the native Carolina Praying Mantis and the Chinese Praying mantis are found in Illinois.

Carolina mantis egg case
Carolina Mantis egg case
Chinese Mantis egg case
Chinese Mantis egg case

Some Overwinter as Larvae

Woolly bear caterpillars, the larval form of the Isabella Tiger Moth, spend the winter curled up under leaves.

Woolly Bear Caterpillar, larvae of Isabella Tiger Moth
Woolly Bear Caterpillar, larvae of Isabella Tiger Moth

Some Overwinter as Nymphs

Insects that have an incomplete metamorphosis only have three stages of life: egg, nymph and adult. Dragonflies spend the winter as nymphs underwater will stay active under the ice. They emerge in spring as adults.

Dragonfly Nymph
Dragonfly Nymph

Some Overwinter as Pupae

Some moths and butterflies will stay in their pupal cases (chrysalides or cocoons) and come out in the spring as adults.

Cecropia Moth Cocoon
Cecropia Moth Cocoon

Some Overwinter as Adults

Monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico in the fall and wait for the spring to arrive to begin their journey back home.

Monarch butterflies

To learn more, check out these books:

STEAM Saturday: Virtual Museum Visit

girl with backpack looking at paintings in an art museum

Exploring works of art helps children understand the world around them in many ways. Art gives kids an opportunity to talk about design (colors, shapes, lines) and learn about history and cultures through the art’s subject matter. Art appreciation can help younger kids describe what they see, learning to put their thoughts into words.

The Art Institute of Chicago has a fun way for families to explore works of art virtually with JourneyMaker. Choose from a variety of themes and artworks to build a custom art adventure with your family!

JourneyMaker is a digital tool that allows your family to create your very own tour of the museum. Choose one of eight storylines—like Superheroes, Time Travelers, or Strange and Wild Creatures—and then select works from the museum’s collection within that story. After you’ve made your selections, you can print out your personalized Journey Guide, which includes information, activities, and wayfinding directions. You can use your guide to take an actual tour of the museum (reserve tickets in advance), or just explore the artwork virtually.

artist's palette and paintbrush

Exploring the JourneyMaker website is one of the ways to earn the Art Badge in the Summer Reading Challenge. You have until August 31 to log all of your reading and activities in Beanstack! While you’re there, be sure to enter any tickets you have earned into the Grand Prize drawings of your choice.

STEAM Saturday: Ant Experiments

red ants on bark

Try looking for an ant colony on your driveway or sidewalk and setting up an ant experiment. Find different types of food such as crackers, sugar, or fruit. Break the food into small pieces and place it in different places near the ant colony. You can even make a hypothesis about what will happen and even which kind of food will be the ants’ favorite.   
As they find the food, ants will let scent trails, called pheromones, down on the ground to guide other ants in the colony to where they can fine food. Once they’ve found the food, try placing an obstacle in their way and see how the ants react. 

For more information about ants, look at this article from Encyclopedia Britannica’s website.

Or check out one of these books!

Ants book cover
Fascinating Insects: Ants book cover
Nature's Superheroes: Super Ants book cover
Two Bad Ants book cover