Love for science starts early in life

Sabin, Davis, Hetrick, Anderegg, Macalady, Walker, Darling, and Katers

One interesting science lesson for young children is oil and water do not mix. The word is insoluble. The other is evaporation.

An easy way to help children explain insoluble is to put a quarter cup of water in a glass and place cooking oil globs into the glass. Children can break up the oil when they stir the mixture and watch the oil form large drops again when they stop for a while.

Children can also make vinegar and oil dressing. Mix vinegar (the water) and oil. Shake or swirl in a jar to see if they will mix. Once children are taught the recipe you’ll have a salad helper-scientist.

Mix 3 tablespoons virgin olive, grapeseed, canola, or vegetable oil with one tablespoon white wine or balsamic, rice, sherry, apple cider, or other wine vinegar. Stir in a pinch of kosher salt, and a twist of pepper to taste. You may also add a bit of honey, mustard, or a little squeeze of lemon which help prevent separation of the vinegar and oil.

Oil-water paintings

Painting a picture is also a good way to show insolubility. Children can tape waxed paper or plastic wrap on one side of computer paper so there is no mess. Place 1/4 cup cooking oil in a cup. Children may use a small brush to paint an outline of a landscape scene of mountains, trees, rivers. They could paint their neighborhood or a design.

They should not fill in the picture. Leave space for painting with colored water. Let the oil soak in for about 5 minutes. Then tape the picture with the plastic or waxed paper backing on a window so children can see their outlines easily. Use water colors or thinned poster paints that are water soluble to fill in the drawings. Discuss how the water based paint will not mix with the parts painted with oil. Dry for several hours and take off the back plastic or waxed paper. The water and oil make interesting pictures.

Evaporation fun

Evaporation is another science concept children like to study.. Point out some towels or clothes drying. What happens to the water in the clothes when they dry? Then paint with water. All you need are rocks or a concrete driveway and two wide paint brushes. Children can work outside painting concrete and sides of buildings and rocks. Paint some lines side by side., one with hot water the other with cold water. Which one will evaporate first?

Explain that water is made of little molecules we can’t see with the eyes. They jump and dance around. This dancing around brings them into the air and they don’t come back down. They become vapor in the air, hence evaporation. For more see and through the Seasons.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.