Wednesday, January 21, 2009

If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research, would it? (Albert Einstein)

Reed was looking for a science experiment for his 6th grade science class. He wanted something new, which is a tall order around here. After 4 (or is it 5) years of science camp in our back yard, every time someone would come up with a project, someone else would say "we've done that!"

In the mean time, I got an e-mail from my friend, "E." He was telling me this funny story from his mission in Brazil that inspired the experiment we did.


"We lived several Elders to an apartment, so in was me and my comp and two other companionships. We discovered that if we took rubbing alcohol and sprayed it in our bathroom and lit it, it would create a pillar of fire because our bathroom had a constant breeze. Harmless as the bathroom was all tile. Anyway, it got late and me and the other senior comp went to bed while our jr comps stayed up. I was woken up to a loud explosion and clattering in the hallway outside our apt. I found out that the JR comps had taken a five gallon water bottle (like the ones on water coolers), dumped a whole bottle of alcohol in it, shook it up and laid it in the hallway. They then lit the fumes and in essence created a rocket. The bottle flew down the hallway and hit the neighbors door. The flame went across our front room and up the wall. No damage thank goodness."

I read the whole story to Reed and he was all over it (and we laughed.) We (Reed and me) decided to try it with a regular water bottle and Kraig says "it won't work," (Mr. Smarty pants, probably did the math in his head.) We plowed ahead anyway. Then Steve comes home and he's all over it too. We're all in the back yard, freezing our butts off and Steve is shaking and shaking the bottle trying to get an evaporation build up and Kraig says "it's not going to work." OK, it's not lighting, well, lighting but not I decide maybe we need to control the evaporation loss a little and I take the cap in the house and put a little hole in it. That should work right? No, it doesn't work either...then we move on to a 2 liter bottle, it doesn't work either. Kraig is just sitting on the steps, looking smug. Steve gets out the camp stove to heat the alcohol a little, still doesn't work, but we decide to change the experiment to include a cork and try to shoot the cork rather than the whole bottle...still not so successful. It didn't really matter, he just had to do an experiment, it didn't actually have to work (it's a darned good thing.) So in the end, Kraig says, "mom, the size of the bottle and neck length are what make the cooler bottle work" (now he gives me ALL of the information!) It was still fun. Thanks for the fun idea "E!!"

Now, don't think this will be going in the science camp curriculum...we would never do anything to endanger our campers...but the Farrar's will definitely be trying this with a cooler bottle sometime next summer ;)


Darilyn said...

What is science camp? Are you serious about doing one in your backyard in the summer?

Sounds like a fun experiment. You'll have to blog about the next installment in this adventure.

Kris Farrar said...

For the last 4 years Kraig has held a science camp in our back yard in the summer for a week. He does two sections, one for kids 6-10, and one for kids 3-5 (mini camp) I am his lovely's pretty fun.

Hokie Family said...

Hi Kris!
Loved the hula hoop party. Creative.