Tie dyed milk. No, not a fashion statement. A science experiment.
This activity came to me from my friend A. It’s from THIS website. She’s actually the one (whether she knows it or not) who introduced me to the No Time For Flashcards blog, where I get many, many ideas from. So I knew this would be good. Thanks A!!
The experiment is super easy to set up, uses common household items (I did not need to buy anything to do this). The concepts in the experiment can be taken as deep and complex as you want them too. I mean, it talks about chemical bonds and molecules! My 2-year-old is NOT ready to grasp the concept of chemical bonds and molecules. But he is ready for things like, “Watch this!” and then, repeating it, “What do you think happens now?” and let’s not forget, “What color is this?”, “Can you use the green one?”, etc. He may or may not be WILLING to answer me, but a mom can try.
A dinner plate, food coloring, 2% (or whole) milk, dish soap, cotton swabs
Zach and I headed out onto the deck and I set everything up. I said, “Hey, let me show you something cool”. I set the supplies up and was getting ready to grab the food coloring when Zach decided HE wanted to do it. I probably should have jut let him, but the controlly mom in me told him no (I was freaking about the mess…since when, right?!). From that point on he only indifferently watched me do this, but I did get a little bit of participation out of him. My husband and I thought this was the coolest thing though!.
Zach reaching for the food coloring saying, "Color back! Want color back!" which means, "Give that to me. NOW."
So the first thing I did was pour the milk onto the plate (I actually used a pasta plate, which is a bit deeper than a regular dinner plate) and let it settle so it was still. Then I took and added one drop each of red, green, blue and yellow food coloring (color lesson!) into the milk, pretty close together.
Color in the milk
Then I took a regular cotton swab and dipped the tip into one of the colors. It is important to note that I did not stir the color, just dipped the swab in. Then I asked Zach to watch what happens. It’s pretty uneventful. Mostly the cotton swab turns from white to green and the milk lies undisturbed.
Dipping the plain cotton swab
We repeated this for another time or two. Then I dipped the cotton swab in some dish soap. I said to Zach, “Watch the milk move now! It’s going to move fast!” Then I dipped the soap covered swab into a color in the milk. Magic happens!
It disperses. Magic!
Then I let Zach try it out.
This time I let him do the food coloring drop. He was very good.
Dipping the swab in the soap
Making the milk move
Then I let him swirl the swab around a bit and it started to look like a tie dyed t-shirt. Or even a Van Gogh painting! So we talked about that. We went to the library last week and picked up a book called Make Van Gogh’s Bed by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo. It’s a “touch the art” book with pictures of very famous paintings and portions of those paintings have been made interactive and touchable. And while these activities are to reduce the amount of TV Zach watches, I have to say I was amazed as we were reading these books that he recognizes some of the paintings from watching Little Einsteins on the Disney Channel. I guess TV isn’t ALL bad. Anyway, here is the book.
Here is a painting in it (I’m sure you recognize it!):
Starry Night by Van Gogh
And here is what the milk looked like at the very end, similar?? Maybe it’s a stretch, but it was good to discuss art with Zach!
Kind of swirly and starry looking, like a Van Gogh painting
Anyhow, art look-alike or not, I made sure that Daddy read Zach that particular book before bed tonight.
What did Zach learn today? Hopefully a little bit about questions and answers and the scientific process. 2-year-olds (or young children in general) are naturally “scientific”. Whether they vocalize it or not, they are always experimenting–“What happens if I push this button? Oohhh…it makes a noise. What if I push it again? And again? And again?” That’s how they learn. It’s fun to teach them something that sort of naturally flows with that line of thinking. “What happens if I touch the blue color? Oooh, it moves. What about the green color? It moves too!!” Oh, and maybe an art lesson too (and colors, yada, yada).
What did Mommy learn? Well, this: “When you add soap [on the cotton swab], the weak chemical bonds that hold the proteins in solution [in the milk] are altered. It becomes a free-for-all! The molecules of protein and fat bend, roll, twist, and contort in all directions. The food coloring molecules are bumped and shoved everywhere, providing an easy way to observe all the invisible activity.” according to the writers of the experiment.