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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Safety in Home Experiments

Kids love and enjoy science activities. The wonders of nature are all new and exciting to them. That is why there are simple and safe experiments intended for preschool and elementary students working at home with their parents.

We might all agree that some experiments can be dangerous. Perhaps some parents worry that encouraging kids to experiment may lead them to do things which will harm them or burn the house down when the parents are absent. This article will attempt to somehow offer guidance on this problem.

Science was always one of my most favorite subjects. We were always doing fascinating things in class. Some of the experiments could even be done at home. As loving parents concerned about the safety of your kids, the following guidelines might be of great help:

• Do not ingest or allow another person to ingest the chemical(s) or any inedible materials you will be using in the experiment.

• Wear eye protection at all times especially when handling or working with chemical(s). Goggles must cover the eyes, not serve as adornment for the forehead.

• Wear gloves to protect the hands. The gloves will give an extra measure of protection against common acids and caustics. If you are working with heat, wear thick canvas or leather gloves. Take care to select the appropriate glove material depending on what you're handling.

• Work in a well-ventilated area so as not to inhale the fumes or vapors evolved from a reaction or a container of reagent. Odorless does not mean harmless. Carbon monoxide from auto exhaust is a good example of odorless yet harmless material.

• Read the label(s) carefully on all reagents you work with.

• Make sure you are within a short distance of an eye wash station when handling chemicals.

• Do not allow your work area to become cluttered with papers, etc.

• The toxicologist's saying is true: "The dose makes the poison". Even "harmless" chemicals such as water, salt, vinegar, or baking soda are toxic in large enough amounts. When working with a particular reagent, know its comparative level of toxicity. Know how to minimize your exposure where necessary.

If you are looking for a science experiment with your child, you can find things that are appropriate for their age and learning level. Though many of them are simple, they can learn a lot from them. Just remember to practice safety above all when you are doing an experiment together. There are a lot of fascinating experiments safe enough for you to work with your children at home. One of these that I would like to share is the one entitled, Layered Liquids.

In this experiment you will need the following materials:

• ¼ cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup or honey
• ¼ cup (60 ml) dishwashing liquid
• ¼ cup (60 ml) water
• ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
• ¼ cup (60 ml) rubbing alcohol
• a tall glass or clear plastic cup or jar
• two other cups for mixing
• food coloring
• funnel

First get permission to use kitchen equipment and ingredients

1. Take the tall glass or jar. Pour the syrup or honey into the glass or jar. Try not to let it dribble down the sides. Pour enough syrup to fill the glass about 1/6 of the way.

2. After you have added the syrup or honey, tip the glass slightly or you may use the funnel to pour the dishwashing liquid down the inside of the glass. Pour carefully to avoid disturbing the bottom layer.

3. Add a few drops of blue food coloring to the water. Add drops of red to the rubbing alcohol. Do this in separate cups.

4. Repeat step 2, first adding the blue water, then the oil, then the red rubbing alcohol, washing the funnel between steps. The liquids will stay in separate layers if you are careful not to shake the glass.

5. Make a sketch of the glass and its liquids, labeling the position of each liquid in your glass.

Each liquid has its own density. You added liquids in order from highest to lowest density. The rubbing alcohol stays on top because it is least dense.

Young children are bubbling with curiosity and few things in life can bring the joy and satisfaction of sharing learning activities with them. Being with you and learning from you is your child's greatest joy. You will treasure these hours spent together for a lifetime. Just make sure that above anything else, prioritize safety.



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