September – Thunderstorms

September 4th, 2011

This month’s experiment’s delayed  posting is due to Hurricane Irene – which caused my loss of power. Thus it is fitting that this month the experiment will explain another much more common weather condition – thunderstorms.

A thunderstorm is caused when warm air rises and mixes with cold air in the atmosphere.  As the warm air rises, it condenses releasing latent heat which  fuels the thunderstorm. You can demonstrate this process to residents with room temperature water, a plastic baking dish, ice cube tray and red and blue food coloring. Prior to the experiment, make a few blue colored ice cubes.

Process:  Fill a clear 9 by 13 inch baking pan 3/4ths full with fresh water. Make sure the water is still. Without disturbing the pan, add a blue dyed ice cube to one end of the pan and two drops of red food coloring to the other end of the pan.

Result: The blue cold water sinks and the red warm water rises to demonstrate the transfer of heat within the water.  This experiment shows how cold and warm air mix in the atmosphere and create thunderstorms.

August – hot air

July 30th, 2011

This month the U.S. is having a serious heat wave.  While your residents stay safe indoors, here is an experiment they can watch and learn about heat.

Materials: Thin black trash bag, twist tie, rock, string and access to an air conditioner.

Process: Hold the open bag over the air conditioner vent. Fill with cold air and tie shut. Tie the bag to the rock with light string. Now place the bag and rock in a sunny filled place on a very hot day.

Result:  The air in the bag will be heated by the sun and because hot air rises you and your residents can watch a mini-hot air balloon of your own making!

July 2011 – Birds

July 1st, 2011

Summer is warm and wonderful and a great time to enjoy the many birds that fill the skies. As we plan to celebrate the Forth of July, here is a way to celebrate the American Bald Eagle.

The Bald Eagle begins life with a dark head and as he/she ages the head feathers turn white. A Bald Eagle has a white head at age five.  This bird weighs no more than 8 pounds as an adult and yet has a wing span of seven feet!  Sharp eyes enable an Eagle to spot a mouse two football fields away in distance. Eagles can retrieve a fish from a lake, but remain always on the edges of the water. They can not drive into water for prey because in deep water they would drown.

Experiement: To demonstrate  bird eggs composition.

Materials:  egg,  drinking glass, white vinegar

Process:  Set a raw egg in a glass of white vinegar so that it’s completely covered in the liquid. Let the egg sit in the vinegar for about 3 days and then take it out and rinse it in water.

Result: The egg shell will disappear because vinegar is a type of acid dissolved the calcium carbonate that the shell is made out of. The interior yolk of the egg will remain because it is surrounded by a membrane.

If you were to set the egg in vinegar for a day and then remove it while some shell remains, then place the egg on a table exposed to air, you will see the shell re-harden as carbon is pulled from the atmosphere onto the shell.

June – Planting Experiment

June 2nd, 2011

June is the perfect time for planting and learning about plants. Here is an experiment I learned as a girl growing up on a farm. It’s a perfect way to show residents how seeds sprout and grow into plants.

Materials: Corn, ziplock bag, water, paper towels, masking tape and lots of sunshine.

Process: Soak three paper towels in water, wring excess and place in a u shape at the bottom of a plastic ziplock bag. Now add several corn seeds inside the paper towel u, making sure the corn is visible. Seal the plastic bag and attach the bag by masking tape to a window that gets lots of sun. Within about a week, the corn will sprout!

Remove the corn and let residents see how the seeds sprout. You can then transfer the seeds to potting soil where the residents can watch the tiny seeds complete the process of becoming a plant.

Making Music – Water Experiment

May 1st, 2011

May 1- 7 is Making Muisic Week. Did you know Americans own more musical instruments than any other country?  Americans purchase 42.7 percent of the world’s instrument; our closest competitor is Japan at 15.6 percent. Eighty-two percent of Americans beleive music is important and 52 perecnt of U.S. houses are home to a musician! ( 2006 Gallup poll). Music has been scientificially proven to reduce stress, according to a 2009 study in the Journal of Geronotogical Nursing.

Materials: seven same sized glass bottles, water, wooden spoon and musical tuner.

Process: Fill one bottle half full and adjust with water until it is pitch middle C. Next fill and test the other bottles until the pitch matches the other notes – D,E,F,G,A & B.  Hit the bottles one at a time with the spoon and make a tune!

Science behind the experiment: The water level in the bottle fills up space in which the sound waves vibrate thus changing the way the resulting sounds are  heard.

April – Acid Rain

March 27th, 2011

This month’s experiment - 

How to test if your

rainwater is acid rain.

Acid rain is caused by pollutants in the atmosphere from th burning of fossil fuels.  Particles from cars and factories blown into the air mix with rain water and form a poison falling back to the ground and harming plants and waterways.

Supplies: two paper cups, rainwater, 2 tablespoons of red cabbage juice, small amount of lemon juice, and a clean jar.


Process: Collect rain water in a clean jar. Put a tablespoon of red cabbage juice in each of the paper cups and number the cups.

In equal amounts add rainwater to cup 1 and lemon juice to cup 2. Compare. If the rain water turns pink, like the lemon juice water, your rain water has a very high acid content.

Questions and comments:



Science for Seniors is  featured monthly in Creative Forecasting magazine.

March experiment – Solar System Guide

March 1st, 2011

As Discovery makes its last voyage into space, I thought I would share this very neat of idea of using a roll of toilet paper to demonstate the vastness of our solar system.  Roll this project out and amaze your residents!! This idea comes from Project:ASTRO

Take a 200 sheet roll of toilet paper and small photos of the sun and planets – you can print these from a NASA site – then mark off the sheets as follows:

Sun – first sheet

Mercury : two sheets

Venus: 3.7

Earth 5.2

Mars: 7.7

Juipiter: 26.4

Saturn 48.4

Uranus: 97.3

Neptune: 152.5

**Remember – Pluto is no longer a planet.

February experiment – invisible physics

February 3rd, 2011

Everyone knows there is carbon dioxide all around us – we breath it out all day long – here is a  simple experiement to show the invisible physics laws at work!

Materials: glass, carbonated soda (light colored such as ginger ale is best) and a dark colored button.

Process: Fill a glass to about a half inch from the top with the soda. drop in a button. The button may float. Now tap the glass so the button falls to the bottom of the glass. The button will be surrounded by bubbles and rise in the glass.

Reason: This bubbles are carbon dioxide gas ( the same gas breathed out by humans and in by plants) that attach to the bubble and make it rise.

January Experiment – Winter true or false

January 17th, 2011

In many parts of North America winter is the time of frezzing temperatures, snow, sleet and freezing rain. But is it true or false that if you place your tongue against a frozen metal pole on a day of less than 32 degrees your tongue will stick to the pole?

This is true! Why? Because the moisture on your tongue in the freezing weather creates in a small bond of ice connecting your tongue to the metal pole. The solution is to pour warm water between the tongue and the pole thus melting the ice and freeing your tongue.

You can achieve the same science with no pain by using a popsicle. The slight few seconds of tug between you tongue and the popsicle demonstrates how the ice bond forms.

November Science for Seniors Experiment

October 31st, 2010

Why does the Earth experience seasons?

The Earth is tilted by 23 1/2 degrees. During the summer months,
the north is pointed toward the Sun allowing more direct sunlight.
During the winter, we are tilted away from the sun so the sunlight
is more indirect as the sun seems lower in the sky.
The summer solstice, autumnal equinox, winter solstice and vernal equinox, the are the first day of summer, fall, winter and spring. This coincides
with the position of earth as it goes around the sun.

Experiment: Materials –  a globe, flashlight and two adults who can walk.

In a dark room shine the flashlight representing the sun on the globe as the globe circles the sun to show how light and heat from the sun brighten and warm the Earth.