Thursday, February 8, 2018

Soda Can Science

My science club has hit a bit of a plateau. I only get 3 to 5 kids, and their ages are so varied that it's hard to find something that interests all of them. I read somewhere in my travels that diet soda floats, while regular soda sinks (Really!!), so I designed this density experiment to celebrate the awesomeness of this fact. 

This week, I only had three kids for Science Club  - but they were all of similar age, and they all had a fantastic time. Plus, it was easy!

What You Need

  • A large clear plastic tub mostly filled with water
  • 6 cans of soda - a mix of regular and diet (please note: this doesn't work with mini cans)
  • Canister of salt
  • 2 plastic cups
  • Kitchen scale
  • Something to stir with (we used a ruler)
  • About 20 sugar packets
  • About 20 artificial sugar packets
  • Orange (nice but not required)
  • Aluminum foil (optional)
  • Willing kids to participate (hereafter referred to as your scientists)

What To Do

The Optional Part
Place the tub of water on a table so everyone can see. Shape your aluminum foil into a little boat. "Will this float, or sink?" Your scientists will all agree that it floats. Demonstrate.

Crumple the foil into a ball. "Will it float now, or sink?" (Please note: you need to crumple it REALLY WELL, or it will continue to float, and you will look silly.) The scientists usually agree that it will sink - if you did it right, it will. So, what changed? The density changed, which is a measure of how much something weighs compared to how much room it takes up. 

"Will the orange sink or float?" You may get differing answers on this one but the orange should, in fact, float. Neat. What if we peeled it? Your scientists will probably agree that it will still float, but they will be surprised to see it sink! Why? Because the orange peel has so much air in it, it acts as a flotation device, like if you wore a life jacket when you went swimming. So what does it mean if it doesn't have as much air in it? The orange without the peel is more dense. (You see where I'm going with this.)

The Rest Of It
SO! Will a can of soda float, or sink? Drop the cans in one at a time, starting with a regular (non-diet) soda. It will sink. ("Duh," I was told.) Then, try a diet can. It... floats? WHAAAAAAT? Continue with all of your cans. 

What's the difference between the cans that sink and the cans that float? The ones that float are DIET sodas. So what's the difference between a regular soda and a diet soda? Fish out all the cans and take a look. (You can put your tub of water aside now, if you have room.)

The sodas all have the same amount of liquid in them - that's the volume. Put them on the scale one by one and notice that the diet sodas weigh less than regular sodas. This means that the regular sodas are more dense than the diet ones.

This is 16 packets of sugar.
But why? Well, take a look at the sugar content of the sodas. The regular soda cans that I had each had 49 grams of sugar (!) while the diet ones have sugar substitutes in them.

Put an empty plastic cup on your scale and zero out the weight. Ask the scientists to add enough sugar to make 49 grams, and count how many packets of sugar that takes. (Our count was 16 packets. SIXTEEN PACKETS, in one can of soda!)

Put a new cup on the scale and zero it out. Now, take 16 packets of artificial sugar and see how much that weighs (about 16 grams). Allow the kids to feel the difference in the weight of the cups, and also the weight of unopened packets. Wow, so that's why it's such a difference in weight, and therefore in density!

If you have moved your water tub, it's time to bring it back. Ask if anyone has any ideas on how to make all the soda cans float. (Mine didn't, aside from pouring out the cans.) "Well, we can't change the density of the cans, but we can change the density of the water." Bring out a container of salt and allow the scientists to pour it (all of it!) in, and stir (we used a ruler for this) until it was as dissolved as possible. 

We put the cans back in and noticed that the diet ones bobbed at the surface even more than before. The cans on the bottom sank more slowly than before, but when one of our scientists started stirring the "soda soup," we noticed that the cans moved when the water moved - it was hard to see, but they were, in fact, floating. Magic? No! Science!

Kat's Note: because of the sugar content of ginger ale, which is less than most cola, orange soda, and grape soda, ginger ale will float, but not as high in the water as diet soda. Maybe skip the ginger ale.

Lab Report

I made this lab report with Canva. I have it in PDF form; just shoot me an email if that works better for you. Otherwise, right click and save these images and paste into a Word document to print.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Valentine Stampers

I wanted to show you this super simple Valentine's Day craft in plenty of time to plan out an event.  It's such a cute idea, and the kids tend to really love it. I had some kids make two, three, or even four valentines for friends and family (but I set the limit at four, because that's a lot, you're good now). 

You Need:

Paper in various colors, some cut into hearts of various sizes
Paint (I used washable tempera paint) in red, pink, purple, and blue
Toilet paper/paper towel tubes
Rubber bands (optional, but useful)
Other things to decorate (glitter, feathers, crayons, etc.)

How It's Done:

Take your toilet paper tube and press in on one side, bending it inward. On the opposite side, bend it out a little bit. This makes it a heart shape. If desired, hold this shape in place by wrapping a rubber band on the outside of the tube.


Put out paper plates with various paint colors. Glue paper hearts onto construction paper, and decorate by stamping the cardboard tube into the paint, and then onto the paper.

Decorate with markers, crayons, glitter, etc., until you're happy with the result. 


This was super popular, and very, very easy. The kids loved that I let them make multiple valentines, and some made them to send to grandparents, etc. They loved the "I made it myself!" aspect, and the parents enjoyed that it was easy, fun, and also looked pretty nice, even with the smallest children. (It's hard to mess up stamping.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Kirigami Paper Flowers

I am all about the paper crafts lately. This easy paper flower is a hit with my teens, and since you can quickly learn how to make them, I just so happen to have about 10 of them on my desk right now - not that I'm complaining. So cheerful!

The photo at the left here is actually two flowers stacked on top of each other. Doesn't it look lovely that way?

This craft isn't origami, because it's not just folding, and I don't know if it's technically kirigami (folding and cutting paper), because you're also using tape, but it's still fun. We can call it kirigami, anyway.

You Need:

Paper - any kind, but probably not something too thick, like card stock.

Here's How:

Start with a square of paper. If your paper isn't square, you can make it square by folding the short side of a rectangle onto the long side, and trimming off the excess.

Fold your paper in half on the diagonal, then in half again, and then again.


With your favorite pair of scissors, cut off the corner (the right angle) and round out the shape. This will be your petal shape.

The next cut you want to make will be in an arc shape, as I drew here. Make sure you start at the open end of the paper (not the corner where all the folds meet), and cut toward *but not all the way to* the other corner.

Unfold your paper, and behold its beauty.

Put a bubble of tape in the center of your flower. Then, take the center paper flap on one of the petals, and fold it toward the middle of the flower, securing it to the tape.

Repeat on the other three petals. You are done!


You can use any type of paper at all. You can paint/color/decorate blank paper to really customize them, or use recycled books, origami paper - anything! They also look very nice when you stack them on top of each other, as in my original photo (at the top). GORGEOUS, I tell you!

Monday, January 8, 2018

3D Paper Snowflakes

Have I mentioned how much I love arts & crafts? I really do. I've started an almost-weekly art program for teens, which I'm calling "Crafternoon" (I also love puns), and I've pulled out all my favorite crafts - plus a few new ones! 

This craft is also my current decoration on the windows near my desk. 

It's super easy to make these, and you can use any kind of paper that you want. Origami paper, wrapping paper, construction paper - even boring old printer paper. I've chosen to upcycle an old book that had been recently weeded, since I'm in a library and all. 

You will need:

Paper - 6 sheets per snowflake


 1. You need six sheets of paper for each snowflake, preferably all the same material, if not color. Because my book wasn't a square to begin with, I did the old trick of turning rectangles into squares - fold the short side against the long side to form a right triangle, and trim the excess.

2. Fold your square in half diagonally, and then in half again.

3. Starting at the folded edge, make three cuts parallel to the long side of the triangle. I've drawn them here in orange marker, but you don't need to draw anything out - just cut through the entire piece of folded paper, starting at the folded edge - but don't go all the way to the end.

4. Unfold your paper and behold its beauty. It should look like this: see how the cuts make a V at two corners, but are joined on the other two corners? Perfect.

5. Take the paper flaps in the center of the square and curl them toward you into a small tube. Tape to secure.

6. Flip your paper over and take the next-innermost flaps, and curl them toward you into a small tube. Tape to secure.

7. Again, flip your paper over, so your last tube is on the bottom. Take the next-innermost flaps, and curl them toward you into a small tube. Tape to secure.

8. One last time, flip your paper over, and tape the last two corners together into a tube. 

THERE! Isn't it beautiful? Your paper tube-spiral should look like this.

9. Repeat with all sheets of paper, so you have 6 paper tube-spirals.

10. Take three of your spirals, staple them together at one end. Then, staple the spirals where the paper touches, at the widest part of the spirals. Repeat, so you have two of these.

11. Staple your two half-snowflakes together, and attach the last two corners of the spiral. And... voila!


Since you're attaching multiple sheets of paper together, your snowflake may be larger than you expected it to be. You can always start with smaller sheets of paper, but it becomes much harder to staple together when the snowflake is a smaller size. Glue or tape may work better in that instance.

You can also make snowflakes with 8 or 10 sides, but even numbers always look nicest, because they're symmetrical. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Book Necklaces

I didn't realize it was backwards. Whoops.
Our next foray into wearable art is the book necklace. I made a sample over a month ago, and I very often get comments when I wear it (usually, "where did you get that?"). It isn't hard to make one of your own, but there are several steps involved.  Here's how:

You Will Need:
* One sheet of plain, white paper (printer paper works)
* Card stock or thin cardboard (NOTE: I used white card stock for this project this time, because I had several sheets on hand, but I have done this before with a cereal box; because we are covering the book, it doesn't matter if there is a pattern on the cardboard or not.)
* Colored or patterned paper, for the book cover
* Scissors, tape, glue, ruler
* Necklace string
* Clasps (optional)
* Thumbtack or needle, to make a hole for the string

Not pictured: string, because I forgot it until after I took the photo.
Step One: Folding
Fold the white paper in half from top to bottom, and cut along the fold.
- Take one of the half-sheets and fold it in half, and in half again, and again, and again.  You want 32 small rectangles.

Step Two: Cutting
- Cut out the rectangles; you will need 12 for this project. You can recycle the others, or use them for bookmarks.

Step Three: More Folding and Stapling
- Group the paper into 4 groups of 3 rectangles each.
- Fold each group in half, and staple along the crease. You should have 4 small paper books.

In progress.
Step Four: Taping
- Tape two of the stapled bundles together at the spines; repeat with the other two.
- Tape all four of the little books into one big book.

Step Five: Card Stock
- Set the pages aside and measure out a cover for your book out of card stock.  I found that it worked best if it measured 2.75" x 1.5". When we did this project at the library, I had all the covers pre-cut, so we didn't have to fuss with rulers and pencils and such.
(Why? It needs to be slightly taller than your pages are tall, and a long enough to cover both front and back of the little book, plus room for a spine. Because our little book is roughly 1.25" tall by 1" wide, this seemed to fit well.)

I know you're all jealous of my Woody the Owl ruler, but I'm not selling it.
Step Six: Making a Spine
- Before adding patterned paper, I folded my little book cover around the pages, pressing down to make a nice square spine. This step is optional, but I find that it makes it easier to put together in the end.

Sometimes it helps to see it, not just read it.
Step Seven: Adding Patterned Paper
- Cut a piece of patterned paper that's slightly bigger than your book cover.  I found it easiest to lie my card stock on the wrong side of the patterned paper, then drawing a rectangle around it, making sure to leave 1/4" or so of room for glue.
- Glue the card stock to the blank side of the paper, and then cut off the corners.

Step Eight: More Tape
- Tape down the patterned paper on all four sides, then re-crease the card stock to make it into a book shape again.

- Make a bubble of tape and apply it to the inside of the book cover, on the spine. Press the pages into the tape and hold tightly. You now have an adorable little book!

It's so cute!!
Step Nine: Making a Necklace
- Take a needle or a thumbtack and make a hole toward the top of the spine of your book. Wiggle it around until it's big enough to thread some string through. (Alternately, you can use a jump ring, but I didn't have any of those on hand.)
- Thread a string through the book spine, and cut it to the appropriate length.  Either you can tie your string ends and slip the necklace over your head, or you can add a clasp.

Miss Kat's Notes:
- Yes, this is held together with mostly tape, but I've had mine for over a month and it hasn't fallen apart yet. I assume you could glue it, but I haven't had the need.
- If you are using cardboard with a pattern on it that you don't want to see, be sure to glue that side of the cardboard to the paper, thus hiding the Trix Rabbit.
- You could get really fancy and print out or draw a tiny copy of your favorite book cover and use that to cover the card stock. I found that I enjoy having a generic book, rather than a specific one, but it's up to you.