Homeschooling S.T.E.A.M.: Dinosaurs – Week 3

Oh, what fun we’re having with our unit on dinosaurs! Never having been one of those kids who obsessed over dinosaurs, I’ve had trouble understanding what all the fuss is about. But I think I get it now. They truly are amazing, and this unit is teaching me so very much.

We’re still working in Guide to Dinosaurs, which is proving to be a great textbook for the kids. I also pulled a few easy books to read with the kiddos.

  • First up was our selection from the “How Do Dinosaurs” series, How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? by Jane Yolen. This was a little odd since the kids don’t actually go to school, but the part about the dinosaur yelling more than made up for that.
  • Next was our nearly-nonfiction title, My Tall Book of Dinosaurs by Sandy Damashek. Super simple, I used this book to also discuss rhymes, having the little ones pick out the rhymes on each set of pages.
  • Our first random book was Max Spaniel: Dinosaur Hunt by David Catrow, a silly little early reader that had the kids BEGGING for a second read through. Success!
  • We ended with Dinosaurumpus! by Tony Mitton, a book guaranteed to get the kids moving around and very, very wound up. Luckily, it also settles them down at the end, so it worked out pretty much perfectly.

And then it was on to the S.T.E.A.M. portion. For this week’s activity, we delved into the realm of dinosaur eggs by making our own fizzy version.

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This is a super easy activity, really taking only three ingredients: baking soda, citric acid, and coconut oil. Okay. Four if you count the little plastic dinosaurs to go inside. Optional, but very nice, is the inclusion of some essential oils, which I did use to make the eggs smell yummy when added to water.

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Nice easy recipe for this one, too. Just mix half a cup or baking soda with 2 Tablespoons of citric acid. Give that a stir and then mix in 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil. Now, I was doing this project in the summer so my coconut oil was liquid, but you might need to melt the oil if it is cold and your oil is solid.

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The younger kiddos are still working on measuring, so this was good practice for them. We did find that the less-than-exact measurements achieved by a couple of the kids made it more difficult to form solid eggs, and we had to do some adjustment at that point. Also, we added the optional essential oils along with the coconut oil, and we found that using vanilla extract instead of oils made the mixture not come together as well.

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But once we got the mixtures right, each kiddo picked a little plastic dinosaur and began to press the mixture around it until an egg formed. These eggs were then set aside, since it takes a day or two for the exterior to harden up nicely. Since I knew this would be the case, I had made up a set of eggs in advance, and I let each child pick one to hatch.

 

In our case, we were hatching in bowls of water. If you’re using these in a bathtub, please be aware that the oil in the mixture can make the tub very slippery, so use caution if your little ones aren’t used to having oils in their baths.

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The kids were so excited to watch the reaction take place…what kid doesn’t like chemistry that bubbles all over the place? Of course, they were super excited to see their dinosaurs start to emerge and it did take a bit of convincing to keep them from breaking apart the rest of the egg and speed up the hatching. But they’re good kids, and all but the very littlest waited the several minutes it took for the hatching to complete.

We talked a lot about the science behind the reaction and the difference between an endothermic and exothermic reaction. The kids were absolutely amazed by how cold this reaction made their water. The littlest one kept asking me to add more citric acid to his bowl so it would bubble again and get even colder.

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The kids had make baking soda volcanoes before, but being able to produce a reaction that didn’t smell like vinegar was new to them. Plus, they got to keep their little dinosaur once it emerged. Fun!

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