Sunday, May 23, 2010

Science Sunday: How to get a corn kernel out of your ear

This has been a week of learning about medical procedures galore.  I learned that when you get a strep rash, that is what Scarlet Fever is.  My kids got to learn all about going to the dentist, which we had been slow to get going.  Actually, we had an appointment about a year and a half ago, but that’s when Superman ended up needing hernia surgery, and so we cancelled all scheduled things because we weren’t sure when we’d be able to get in to the specialist.  So, back to what I was saying.

Then we had the fun of Superman coming in while I was getting ready to start cooking dinner announcing that he had a seed stuck in his ear.  As the story came out over the next couple of days the kids had been showing each other how they could put popcorn seeds in their ears and then they’d fall out.  Each of them later on admitted to putting a seed in their ear.  When I asked Superman why he did this, he said, “Well Batman did it, and it fell out.”  GREAAAAT.  Yeah, that makes sense.

So, he got to spend a couple of hours at the local Urgent Care as we waited for them to get it out.  Jeff reported it took four different tools, and a lot of water to get it out.

I thought I’d drive the point home of why we don’t put these things in their ears, so I set up the experiment.

Supplies: popcorn kernel, small jar, various tools to try and get out the kernel (I gave them bamboo skewers, straws, and a fondue fork, and told them they could get whatever else they wanted to use).

Rules: you have to get the popcorn kernels out without picking up the jar.
Princess’ attempts:

She mainly tried the bamboo skewers, but occasionally would try the fondue fork.  I suggested trying to suck up the kernels with her straw, but she never really tried it.
The picture on the bottom right will be explained when we get to Jeff’s help.


Batman’s attempts:

Batman mainly tried with the fondue fork chasing the kernels around his jar.  He finally employed Jeff’s version and successfully got them all out, but it took quite a few tries.

Superman’s attempts:
Superman having heard my suggestion to Princess was the only one to successfully get the kernel out with the straw.  Then the kernel got stuck in the straw.
I reminded him of how they got it out of his ear, so he started trying that.  He was also the most persistent.


He tried to get it out by pouring water in.  That’s how they finally got the kernel out of his ear, with some focused water, but they had to also use forceps.  We discovered this doesn’t work because popcorn kernels don’t float.


Then he decided it might come out if we did like the volcano.  So, we poured some baking soda in, and then some vinegar, and it made a satisfying mess, but no kernels out of the jar.  He was very disappointed with that.

Jeff’s attempts:
You can tell you’ve got an interesting idea for an experiment when your husband wants to get in on the act.
His first idea was a variation on the straw, using a turkey baster to suck it up.  He wanted a medical syringe, but we couldn’t find any of the ones that came with the kids’ medicine.
Next, came the 030successful idea, which everyone ended up using.  Putting tape on the end of the bamboo skewer so that the sticky side was out and grabbing the popcorn kernels with that.  An excellent way to practice fine motor skills (that’s the picture earlier on with Princess).
We were also curious to see if the kernel would float in oil, oil having a higher density than water.  That didn’t work, but it was worth a try.

And then what’s an experiment without a follow-up activity.  Which of course I had nothing to do with, but since when has my involvement stopped my kids?
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Lunch was rather uninteresting to them, so they were “experimenting” to see what would happen to the water if they poured it into the soup.  Superman’s “pothesis was the water would get darker.”  And it apparently did, then he spent quite a while before I caught him sucking up the soup with the turkey baster and putting it into his cup.  I need to wash that tablecloth now.  Note to self, remember to do that.

And, I’m super excited because we started reading our new science book for the year, we got book one in the Apologia Zoology, Flying Creatures.  We’ve read through chapter 1, and will probably be sharing our first few experiments about that.  I’m thinking we might skip ahead to insects and get our own grow your own butterfly kit…..

I can’t wait to see what everyone else did this week!
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