ORLANDO, Fla. – If you’re running out of things to do with your kids with practically everything shut down, how about trying some of these fun, hands-on projects?
Below you will find step-by-step instructions on how to do these experiments with household items you may already have lying around.
Make your own rain gauge
If you just polished off that bottle of soda, pop, coke or whatever you call it, you’re in luck. Rain has been hard to come by in Florida, but you’ll be ready to measure it like the pros when it does come.
1. 2 liter bottle
4. Scissors or knife
Step 1: Cut off the top of the bottle.
Step 2: Cut 6″ of tape. Copy the ruler markings on the tape.
Step 3: Add about 1″ of water to prevent the bottle from tipping over.
Step 4: Place the bottom of the tape at the top of the water.
Step 5: Flip the cut piece of the bottle and replace the top upside down. This will help to catch the water when it rains. Make sure you record how much rain fell and then empty the bottle back to the bottom of the tape so you can accurately measure how much rain falls the next time.
Make your own barometer
A barometer is used to measure pressure and record its changes. When the pressure is low, that is a sign that inclement weather is coming. When the pressure is high, pleasant weather is typically around.
You’ll need: Glass, balloon, index card, spool, pencil, straw, glue or tape, toothpick or sewing needle, scissors.
Step 1: Mark index card with an H and L. H for High pressure at the top and L for low pressure at the bottom. Draw lines in between for reference. Tape the index card to the pencil. Insert the pencil into the spool to make a stand.
Step 2: Cut the balloon and stretch it over the glass.
Step 3: Tape or glue the sewing needle or toothpick to the end of the straw. Then, tape or glue the straw to the top of the balloon. See the picture below.
If air pressure outside the jar is lower than inside the jar, the balloon will be forced up, causing the the straw to move down the index card and recording lower pressure. Air moves from regions of high pressure to low pressure. Therefore, if the air inside the jar is relatively higher than the air outside of the jar, the air will push the balloon up, causing the straw to go down.
The opposite is true if there is higher pressure outside of the jar.
The experiment below can help you visualize this. You will need a hard-boiled egg or water balloon, a jar with an opening small enough to place the hard-boiled egg or balloon on top, matches and paper.
Step 1: Make a hard-boiled egg or water balloon. Place on top of the jar to make sure it does not fall through. You want it to be able to fit in the opening, but not fall through.
Step 2: Remove the hard-boiled egg or water balloon. Carefully light a piece of paper on fire and drop it into the bottle or jar.
Step 3. Place the hard-boiled egg or water balloon on top of the bottle or jar. Watch as the hard-boiled egg or water balloon falls into the jar or bottle without being touched.
Before the experiment was started, the air pressure inside and outside of jar was the same. When heat is added, the air inside the jar expands. Once the egg is placed on top of of the jar, the lack of oxygen puts the fire out and the air inside the jar begins to cool and contract. The air pressure inside the jar then becomes lower than the air pressure outside. Knowing that air flows from regions of high pressure to low pressure, the air outside the jar literally pushes the egg into the jar, even without anyone physically pushing it. Cool!
Make your own anemometer
A what? An anemometer measures wind speed. You can make one of these and place it outside of your home and watch it in action.
You’ll need: A pencil, cupcake liners, thumbtacks, cardboard, scissors, spool, needle or pin.
Step 1: Cut the cardboard into two strips. Cut a vertical slit halfway down the cardboard pieces so you can make an X with the two pieces. (See cardboard pieces in the picture above)
Step 2. Using the thumbtacks, install the cupcake liners to ends of the cardboard.
Step 3: Place the pencil in the spool to make a stand. Using the pin, attach the strips of cardboard to the pencil by pushing it through the center of the X and into the eraser of the pencil.
The faster the wind blows, the faster the anemometer will turn.
If you make any of these instruments or do any of the experiments, we want to know. Head here to show us how you are doing your part to flatten the curve and stop the spread of coronavirus.