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rainbow | Yellow Scope blogIsn't it exciting to see a rainbow? The beautiful array of colors is a wonder - it may seem like magic, but we can understand rainbows through science!

Put simply, rainbows occur when white light from the sun bounces off raindrops at a particular angle and splits into all the colors we can see.

In this month's 20 Minute Lab, we'll make our own rainbows using common liquids from your kitchen! Instead of splitting light, we'll make our rainbows using density.

Like real rainbows, this one won't last forever, but it's sure neat while it does.


  • rainbow jar supplies | Yellow Scope blogsmall clear glass jar (we used a small mason jar)
  • honey (generic brands work fine)
  • light corn syrup
  • blue or green dish soap
  • canola or olive oil
  • different colors of food coloring
  • rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol (91% works best, but 70% will do - it's what we used)
  • a small bowl (or multiple bowls if you don't want to clean the same one out a few times during the experiment)
  • spoon
  • eye dropper
  • water

NOTE: the amount of each liquid you use will depend on your jar's size and how thick you want to make the rainbow stripes. For each liquid, you will want to use equal amounts, except for the oil - you will use double the amount. In the Yellow Scope lab, we used half a cup of each liquid and a full cup of oil. 


  1. rainbow jar pouring | Yellow Scope blogMaking sure not to touch the sides, pour the honey into the center of the jar. (If your honey is crystallized, you can scoop some into a small bowl and heat for 20 seconds in the microwave).
  2. Pour the corn syrup into a small bowl. Add 2 drops of red and 1-2 drops of blue food coloring. Stir to make the syrup purple.
  3. Gently pour the syrup into the jar on top of the honey. (Make sure to pour in the center of the jar, avoiding the sides.)
  4. Now add the dish soap, again avoiding touching the sides of the jar.
  5. Measure the water into a small bowl and add food coloring. If your dish soap was blue, make the water green by adding 2 drops each of yellow and blue coloring. If your dish soap was green, add 2 drops of blue coloring to make the water blue. Stir to mix.
  6. Again, gently add the colored water to the center of the jar.
  7. Now add twice the amount of oil to the jar. The bottom half of this layer will be the 'yellow' layer, and the top half will become the orange layer.
  8. Measure the rubbing alcohol into a small bowl and 3 drops of red food coloring. Stir to mix.
  9. Using the eye dropper, carefully add the rubbing alcohol to the jar. This time you want to squirt the alcohol down the side of the jar. This prevents the alcohol from mixing with the water layer.
  10. Being careful to keep the liquid still, hold your jar to the light and admire all the colors!

rainbow jar | Yellow Scope blog


What's going on?

lava lamp pour | Yellow Scope blogWhy don't all the different liquids just mix together instead of forming layers? Well, each liquid has a different density. The different liquids stack on top of each other, with the most dense on the bottom and the least dense on the top. 

Density refers to how much stuff can be packed in a given space. Scientists call the “stuff”, mass and the “space”, volume.

You might remember from last month's 20 Minute Lab, Lava Lamp in a Glass, that some molecules are larger than others. Some liquids are made up of small molecules that are packed tightly together (more dense), while other liquids are made of large molecules that are more spread out (less dense).

Liquids made up of smaller molecules, like water, are more dense and sink toward the bottom. Liquids made up of larger molecules like oil are less dense and don't sink as much. 

oil water molecules | Yellow Scope blog





    In this experiment, you poured the liquids into the jar in a specific order, from the most dense (honey) to least dense (rubbing alcohol). In this way, each new layer stacked on top of the layer below it. You could repeat the experiment and try adding the liquids in a different order to see what would happen!

    NOTE: If you used 70% rubbing alcohol (like we did), that means that the other 30% is water. This means that when you added the alcohol, some of it sunk into the oil (creating that orange layer), since water is denser than oil and wants to go underneath the oil layer!





    Let us know what you did. Share your photos and results with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or send us an email to We love getting your messages!

    For more exciting experiments, check out our Yellow Scope Science Kits on the Shop tab of our website!

    20 minute labs lava logo | Yellow Scope blog



    lava lamps | Yellow Scope blogHave you ever seen a lava lamp? They're basically an ongoing chemical reaction in a bottle! They were a big hit in the past, and people would buy them to add some fun light and a mesmerizing visual to their room. 

    In this month's 20 Minute Lab, we'll use some household items to make our own lava lamps!

    This experiment is great because it's fun day or night (with a little flashlight help), and you can use the 'lamp' over and over again!

    Note: make sure NOT to drink or taste your lava lamp - it's would taste gross and wouldn't be good for your body!


    • lava lamp supplies | Yellow Scope blogSeveral tablets of Alka-Seltzer (generic brands are fine)
    • vegetable oil (about 2+ cups)
    • food coloring
    • drinking glass
    • measuring cup
    • water


    • tray (to catch spills)
    • flashlight | Yellow Scope bloglarge flashlight (for nighttime fun!)
    • chopstick (for experimenting with stirring)
    • extras of everything to make more than one lava lamp!


    1. lava lamp steps | Yellow Scop blogFirst, fill your measuring cup with 1/2 cup of water.
    2. Add about 20 drops of food coloring and stir. (Remember, you can mix colors by adding 10 drops of different colors or some other combination!)
    3. Fill your glass a bit over halfway up with oil.
    4. Add the colored water to your glass (watch it sink and separate!)
    5. Break one Alka-Seltzer tablet into three or four pieces.
    6. Drop one of the pieces into your glass and watch what happens!


    1. flashlight | Yellow Scope blogAt night (or in a dark room), place the glass on top of a wide flashlight that will stand on its own. (Or you can make your own creative setup - we cut a small hole out of cardboard, then placed the glass on top and a bike light underneath).
    2. Turn the lights off, then add your Alka-Seltzer tablet and watch the lit up effect!

     (Notice how you can just keep adding pieces of tablet to keep the lamp going!)


    What's going on?

    lava lamp pour | Yellow Scope blogBefore you put your tablet in the mix, you poured the colored water into the oil. Did you notice how the water went straight to the bottom?


    That happened because water molecules are smaller than oil molecules, so they can pack more tightly together. This means that water is denser than oil.

    It's sort of like the difference between sand and marbles - sand (like water) is made up of tiny bits, and marbles (like oil) are made of big bits. And you know that you can pack more sand into an area than marbles!

    oil water molecules | Yellow Scope blogWater and Oil Don't Mix

    Water doesn't mix with oil because oil is made of 'hydrophobic', or water-fearing, molecules that want to keep away from water. The food coloring, on the other hand, mixes well with water and dissolves into it (notice how the oil stays the same color).

    fizz | Yellow Scope BlogChemical Reaction

    Alka-Seltzer has sodium bicarbonate and citric acid in it. When you put the tablet in water, a chemical reaction occurs: the sodium bicarbonate and citric acid molecules bump into each other, swap parts, and form new molecules. One of those new molecules is carbon dioxide. 

    The fizzing action is actually bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. The bubbles  rise to the top of the glass, and as they do, they attach to globules of colored water and bring them up to the top as well!

    Once they reach the top, the bubbles burst, leaving nothing to keep the dense blobs of water from sinking again.

    Keep experimenting!

    Try these variations to keep the fun going:
    • alka-seltzer tablet | Yellow Scope blogTry different sizes of the tablet - what happens with a whole tablet? What about with lots of small pieces at once?
    • What happens if you use more water in the glass than oil?






      Let us know what you did. Share your photos and results with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or send us an email to We love getting your messages!

      For more exciting experiments, check out our Yellow Scope Science Kits on the Shop tab of our website!


      20 minute lab | No Leak bag | Yellow Scope



      Now here's a great trick and a fun way to keep cool in the summer!

      In this month's 20 Minute Lab, we'll use some household items to see how some forms of plastic are leak-resistant, even when you poke holes in it!

      The supplies for this experiment are very simple, and it's a great one for a sunny day. It'll go fast, but you can extend the fun by experimenting with different materials to see what happens.


      • No Leak bag supplies | Yellow Scope bloga few round pencils (colored pencils are often round and work just fine! We happened to have double sided pencils, but that's not necessary)
      • pencil sharpener
      • plastic bag (a zip-lock style is easiest to handle)
      • water



        1. First, you'll want to stand over a sink or be outside in case there are any spills.
        2. sharpened pencils | Yellow Scope blogSharpen all the pencils so they have a good point on them.
        3. Fill the bag about half-way with water and seal it closed. Make sure there aren't any leaks to start!
        4. Now, if you're in a group, you might pause here. Add some fun anticipation by asking your friends what they think will happen when you pierce the bag. Make a hypothesis!
        5. Pierce the bag all the way through both sides with a pencil, leaving some of the pencil poking out on both sides. (Leave the pencil in the bag!)
        6. Observe what happens!
      poke the bag | Yellow Scope blog



      What's going on?

      ldpe |Yellow Scope blogPlastic bags are made out of something called a polymer. A polymer is a type of molecular structure that is a chain of repeated units - like beads on a necklace. ('Poly' means 'many', so polymer means 'many' units.)

      Most bags are made of a particular polymer called low-density polyethylene (LDPE), which has a lot of branching atoms on its chains of polymers. This makes it very flexible.

      LDPE is a very common material because it is light, tough, leak resistant and inexpensive. Perfect for packing material and bags!

      no lead bag | Yellow Scope blogWhen the pencil was poked through the bag, the long flexible molecules formed a seal around the pencil, so the water didn't leak out!

      But if you try removing the pencils, the hole remains because the polymers were permanently squeezed aside by the pencil and can't return to the original shape. So when you're done, you can pull out the pencils to make a summer shower!

      leaking bag | Yellow Scope blog

      Keep experimenting!

      Try these variations to keep the fun going:

      • a different type of bag (produce, grocery carryout bags, sandwich bag, etc)
      • try different types of pencils - bigger ones, smaller ones, the kind with flat edges, etc.
      • try pens, skewers, or sticks

      What happens using these materials? What changes? What works best?






      Let us know what you did. Share your photos and results with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or send us an email to We love getting your messages!

      For more exciting experiments, check out our Yellow Scope Science Kits on the Shop tab of our website!


      yellow scope blog | stem summer activities


      Summer, glorious summer! A time for relaxing, vacations, and unplugging... We’re several weeks into summer, and if your family is anything like ours, that last one might be a challenge. As an antidote to too much screen time, we’ve put together a list of STEM-based activities.

      Not only will these activities help prevent the summer learning slide, they’ll also encourage kids to put down those screens for a bit. That’s what we call a win-win!

      Some of the activities involve apps and online research. You can mix and match to strike a healthy balance between hands-on activities and educational online resources.


          Yellow Scope | Summer STEM | Acids and Bases kit

          Does making elephant toothpaste, fizzy lemonade, or invisible ink sound fun? Check out these free resources for these and more exciting experiments:

          At home: Check our Yellow Scope’s 20 Minute Labs for a series of quick and fun hands-on experiments! Sign up for our email list and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for new labs every month.

          Send your kids to “camp”! Our Camp Yellow Scope  is a digital series of eight chemistry-based experiments, including printable instructions and worksheets to hypothesize, record, and analyze data.

          Online: There are some excellent online STEM resources to keep kids engaged. Check out Nova labs  from PBS. They cover topics ranging from cybersecurity to the sun.

          Science kits: If you are looking for convenience and real science equipment, consider everything-in-the-box science kits such as Yellow Scope’s Foundation Chemistry Kit or Acids, Bases & pH Kit. Your local library may also have science kits that can be checked out for free!

            2. GET OUT IN NATURE

              Yellow Scope | Summer STEM | Nature Walks

              Explore the natural world! Keep your eyes open and be curious.

              Identify plants: Learn the names of the plants in your own backyard or at your local park with the online projects like YardMap, or apps like PlantSnapp and Garden Answers.

              Take a hike: Hiking is not only good exercise, but can also stimulate your brain! Check out rock formations, birds’ nests, insects, and plants. Carry an inexpensive magnifying glass to get closer to nature. Bring along paper and markers to draw what you observe!

              Be a bird detective: Use this guidebook from Bird Sleuth to explore the world of birds in your neighborhood.

              Yellow Scope | Summer STEM | Stars, galaxies, meteor showerStars, galaxies, and more: Visit a local observatory to learn more about our universe. Keep a track of astronomical events that you can observe in your region even without a telescope.

              Mark your calendars for the Perseid meteor shower in August. Check out these other spectacular 2018 astronomical events. NASA is another great resource of online activities for kids.

              3. STEM BOOKS AND GAMES


              science books | Yellow Scope blogOnline: PBS and National Geographic are great resources for online STEM games for kids.

              Library: Check out STEM books or participate in STEM programs at your local library.

              STEM games: Check out these cool games that will keep your kiddos (and you!) busy for hours: Snap circuits junior, Lego Chain Reactions, Gravity Maze and Math for Love Prime Climb

              Subscribe to STEM magazines: Kids love getting mail! Consider a subscription to a STEM magazine. There are some great ones our there: SMORE, National Geographic, MUSE, or Strong Magazine.


                  Yellow Scope | Summer STEM activities | Frontiers for Young Minds- kids review science

                  It’s true! There’s a science journal out there for kids. Real scientists submit papers there that are then reviewed by kids. If your kids are interested in learning more about scientific research and review process, sign them up for Frontiers for Young Minds. (for ages 8-15).

                  5. MUSEUMS AND MOVIES

                  Yellow Scope | Summer STEM | Science Museum

                  Museums and science centers: Go visit your local science and technology museums. Explore the exhibits and participate in STEM activities there. 

                  Movie night!: Grab the popcorn and queue up a science-themed Hollywood movie, such as Hidden Figures, Apollo 13, or The Martian. (Common Sense Media provides ratings and excellent descriptions of movies to help you determine if the subject matter is appropriate for your child.)


                  SHARE WITH US!

                  Let us know how your activities turned out! Did you identify a new plant or read any STEM book? Share your summer STEM photos and videos with us  on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. We love getting your messages!

                  elephant toothpaste logo | Yellow Scope blog



                  Have you ever seen an elephant at the zoo or in the movies? Did you notice those big tusks? Those are actually two very large teeth.

                  Imagine if elephants had to brush those teeth? They'd need a very large tube of toothpaste!

                  In this month's 20 Minute Lab, we'll be using some household items to produce an exothermic chemical reaction. The result is a fun oozing foam - big enough to use as elephant's toothpaste!

                  The main ingredient for this experiment is hydrogen peroxide - a common first aid supply. The hydrogen peroxide in your cabinet is probably a 3% solution, which will work just fine for the experiment. If you want a more powerful reaction, you can use 12% hydrogen peroxide, which you can find at beauty supply stores. If you decide to try the 12%, make sure you ask an adult to handle it. The adult should wear gloves, since 12% hydrogen peroxide can irritate the skin.

                  WHAT YOU’LL NEED

                  • tray, plastic tub, or washable mat (You can use the one from your Foundation Chemistry kit if you have one!)
                  • bottle with narrow neck
                  • measuring cup
                  • measuring spoons
                  • hydrogen peroxide (standard 3% works, but 12% works even better)
                  • food coloring (optional, but fun!)
                  • dish soap
                  • package of dry yeast (we used the measuring spoons, as we had bulk yeast)
                  • water

                  LET'S GET STARTED

                  1. First, if you want to make it really seem like an elephant's toothpaste, you can cut a piece of paper to fit around your bottle and decorate it with markers or crayons to make it look like a toothpaste bottle! This isn't required for the experiment though, it's just for fun.
                  2. Place your bottle on the mat or whatever you're using to catch the excess foam.
                  3. Pour 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide into the bottle. (If you're using 12% hydrogen peroxide, have an adult do the pouring, perhaps using a funnel.)
                  4. Add 8 drops of your favorite color food coloring.
                  5. Add a good squirt of dish soap. Swirl to mix.
                  6. Rinse out your measuring cup. Add 1 tablespoon of yeast and 3 tablespoons of warm water. Stir gently for about 15 seconds.
                  7. Pour the yeast mixture into the bottle.
                  8. Observe what happens!


                  The red toothpaste was made using the standard 3% hydrogen peroxide.

                  The blue toothpaste was made using 12% hydrogen peroxide! If you decide to use 12%, make sure to have an adult help and use gloves! (Note: We propped up the bottle a bit so the "toothpaste" squirted out to one side!)


                  What's going on?

                  formulas | Yellow ScopeDid you make an oozing foam? Why did this happen?

                  The chemical formula for hydrogen peroxide is H2O2. This means it is made up of two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms. Can you see how similar hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, is to water, H2O?

                  If you left a bottle of hydrogen peroxide open to the air, over time it would slowly break down into water (H2O) and oxygen (O2). The oxygen would be released as tiny bubbles of gas that would dissolve into the air.  Eventually you would just be left with a bottle of water - but this would take a long time!

                  Adding yeast dramatically speeds up this process.bread | Yellow Scope blog This is because a package of yeast contains "catalase". Catalase is an enzyme that speeds up the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.

                  Note: When something speeds up a reaction it's called a catalyst. There are lots of different types of catalysts, but this one's easy to remember: catalase the catalyst!

                  soap bubbles | Yellow Scope blogIn our experiment, the dish soap traps the oxygen gas (O2), which creates lots and lots of bubbles! All this bubbling makes the substance quickly expand and shoot out of the bottle.

                  You might notice that your bottle is now a bit warm! That's because this chemical reaction produces heat. This type of reaction is called an exothermic reaction ('exo' means outside or external and 'therm' means heat).

                  At this point what's left in your bottle in just soap, water and oxygen, so you can pour the remains of your experiment safely down the sink!

                  SHARE WITH US!


                  Let us know what you did. Share your photos and results with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or send us an email to We love getting your messages!

                  For more exciting experiments, check out our Yellow Scope Science Kits on the Shop tab of our website!


                  20 minute lab lemon logo | Yellow Scope blog



                  Ever wanted to make a super secret message to a friend, like you were a spy in the movies?

                  top secret | yellow scope blogIn this month's 20 Minute Lab, we'll be writing a message using the "ink" of a common fruit!

                  Planning to set up a lemonade stand this summer with your friends or family? In between customers, you can use the lemonade to write secret messages to each other!

                  If you don't have a lemon or lemonade, you can use bottled lemon juice, an orange, lime, other citrus fruit, or even vinegar!

                  WHAT YOU’LL NEED

                  egg supplies | Yellow Scope blog
                  • half a lemon
                  • small bowl
                  • spoon and water
                  • Q-tip
                  • sheet of paper
                  • a strong light bulb (100 watts), or an iron

                  LET'S GET STARTED

                  1. Squeeze about a tablespoon of lemon juice into the bowl.
                  2. Add a teaspoon of water and mix with a spoon.
                  3. Dip one end of the Q-tip into the lemon juice.
                  4. lemon setup | Yellow Scope blogUsing the Q-tip like a pencil, write your message on the paper! (Note: Don't use too much lemon juice when writing each letter to avoid getting the paper too wet and warping it!)
                  5. Depending on how long your message is, you may have to re-wet your Q-tip with lemon juice several times.
                  6. Wait a few minutes for the paper to dry.
                  7. light bulb | Yellow Scope blogNow hold your paper over the light bulb. (Note: incandescent bulbs work the best!) To use an iron, turn the steam setting to "off" and place a piece of fabric between the iron and paper. Have an adult help with this step!






                  If you could see your message after the paper dried - without applying any heat - you may have used too much lemon juice when writing. Try it again - this time letting the Q-tip rest on the edge of the bowl before writing to let some of the liquid drip off.

                  If your message does not appear after applying heat, the heat from the light bulb may not be hot enough. Try using a hotter light bulb or try the iron method.


                  What's going on?

                  Did your secret message magically appear? Did it turn dark brown? Why did this happen?

                  Lemon juice is made up of carbon-based compounds, which you applied to the paper with the Q-tip. As you saw, it doesn't have any color at room temperature.

                  However, heat breaks carbon bonds and sets some of those carbons free from the paper. When that free carbon contacts the oxygen in the air, it turns a brownish color. This process is called oxidation.

                  lemon ink message | Yellow scope blog

                  Sometimes substances will oxidize without any added heat. Have you ever had apple slices turn brown when they sit out for a while? That's because the carbon-based compounds in the apple oxidized without the need for the extra heat.

                  apples | Yellow Scope BlogFun trick: to prevent your apples from turning brown, add some lemon juice to them! Lemon is a natural antioxidant which prevents the oxidation process from happening. 

                  SHARE WITH US!


                  Let us know what you did. Share your photos and results with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or send us an email to We love getting your messages!

                  For more exciting experiments, check out our Yellow Scope Science Kits on the Shop tab of our website!


                  20 minute lab egg logo | Yellow Scope blog


                  SHIP IN A BOTTLE vs EGG IN A BOTTLE

                  Got any leftover boiled eggs from Easter? How about using them for an experiment!

                  ship in a bottle | Yellow Scope blogHave you ever seen a ship in a bottle? You may have asked, "How did they do that?" It may seem like magic, but really this trick is more painstaking work than a magician's slip of the hand.

                  Most people just build the base of the ship outside the bottle with foldable masts. Then they slide it through and raise the masts inside the bottle with attached strings.

                  What if you could suck the whole boat in at once? That would be pretty neat. Well, you can't do it with a boat, but you can with an egg! How? By manipulating the relationship between temperature and pressure. It's like magic but better - it's science!

                  WHAT YOU’LL NEED

                  egg supplies | Yellow Scope blog
                  • glass or hard plastic bottle
                    (the mouth should be about a
                    1/2 inch narrower than the egg)
                  • 1 egg
                  • small pot of water
                  • folded strip of paper
                  • match or lighter (with adult assistance)

                  LET'S GET STARTED

                  1. With an adult to help, place the egg into a small pot of water and bring it to a boil.
                  2. Boil for 2 minutes, then let the pot sit for about 10 minutes. You now have a hard boiled egg!
                  3. egg peel and position | Yellow Scope blogRinse the egg in cold water and peel off the shell.
                  4. Place your egg, small side down, over the mouth of the bottle.
                  5. Fold your paper so that it will easily fit through the mouth of the bottle.
                  6. Have an adult light the  paper on fire.
                  7. Quickly remove the egg, drop the paper into the bottle, and replace the egg over the mouth of the bottle. Watch what happens!


                  What's going on?

                  Wow! Was the egg pulled into the bottle? How did that happen? The key has to do with air pressure. Before the experiment, when the egg was sitting on top of the bottle, the air pressure inside the bottle was the same as it was outside the bottle. So nothing happens.

                  pressure | Yellow Scope blogWhen you drop the burning paper into the bottle, the air quickly heats up and expands. Some of this expanding air pushes around the egg to escape. This is why you saw the egg vibrate and wiggle as the air whooshed past.

                  When the flame goes out (once there was no more oxygen left inside the bottle to burn), the air inside the bottle begins to cool. Cool air contracts, which takes up less space and exerts less pressure.

                  Because the egg acts as a seal, this sets up a difference in pressure - the pressure inside the bottle is less than the pressure outside the bottle. Air wants to move from high to low pressure. The higher air pressure outside pushes on the squishy, flexible egg until it is eventually pushed into the bottle.

                  Physics is cool, right?


                  thin bottle | Yellow Scope blogIf the bottle caved in instead and the egg wasn't sucked in, your bottle may be made of too thin a material. Try using a harder plastic or glass.

                  If the egg breaks into pieces on the way in, it may have been too big for the bottle's mouth. Try a smaller egg or a larger-mouthed bottle.

                  If nothing happened to the egg (it wasn't sucked into the bottle), the fire may have gone out as you dropped it into the bottle. Make sure the paper is fully lit and continues to burn when placed into the bottle.

                  To get the egg back out again:

                  1. Hold the bottle upside down, and move the egg around until the small end is resting in the mouth.
                  2. Cover the bottle's opening with your mouth and blow, slowly but firmly, into the bottle. Then quickly point the bottle away from you.
                  3. The egg should pop right out!

                  egg blowout | Yellow Scope blog

                  How does this work? By blowing into it, you increased the pressure inside the bottle. This increase in air pressure pushes the egg back out!

                  boiled egg | Yellow scope blogGo ahead and eat your egg as a snack!

                  SHARE WITH US!


                  Let us know what you did. Share your photos and results with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or send us an email to We love getting your messages!

                  For more exciting experiments, check out our Yellow Scope Science Kits on the Shop tab of our website!

                  20 minute lab logo | Yellow Scope blog

                  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

                  St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner - a time for Irish music, dancing, festivals and a lot of green. How about celebrating in your own home with some decorations made using science?!

                  We can use household materials to make crystal shamrocks. Shamrocks are the leaf of a clover plant, and a symbol for the country of Ireland, where the real St. Patrick lived and is celebrated across the world today.

                  NOTE: Though doing the lab will only take about 20 minutes, once you're done you'll have to wait overnight to see the full results.

                  WHAT YOU’LL NEED

                  • green pipe cleanerShamrock lab materials | Yellow Scope blog
                  • a large wide-mouthed glass jar
                  • borax (powder found in the laundry aisle), about 1 cup
                  • string
                  • pencil (or pen, stick, straw)
                  • boiling water

                  NOTE: It is not safe to breath in or eat borax, so be careful. Don't worry, we've included some tips and steps that help you to stay safe!

                  LET'S GET STARTED

                  shamrock pipe cleaner | Yellow Scope blog
                  1. Shape your pipe cleaner into a shamrock! Make sure it will fit into the jar's opening and that there's about a 1/2 inch of space on the sides. (You'll need space because the shamrock is going to get bigger.)
                  2. Tie the piece of string around the stem of your shamrock.
                  3. Hang your shamrock in the empty jar, suspending it right in the middle. Tie the other end of the string to the middle of your pencil. Remove the shamrock from the jar. jar and shamrock | Yellow Scope blog
                  4. Then add water to the jar cup by cup. Count how many cups it takes to fill the jar.
                  5. Now pour the water from the jar into a pot and have your parent bring it to a boil on the stove.
                  6. Remove the pot from the heat and turn on the fan above your stovetop if you have one. If not, open a window or two for ventilation. 
                  7. Wait until the water is calm and no longer bubbling. (You don't want to add borax while the water is still bubbling.) 
                  8. Now add 3 tablespoons of borax for each cup of water. (For example, our jar held 6 cups of water, so we used 18 tablespoons of (3x6=18). NOTE: If you want to use cups to measure, there are 16 tablespoons in one cup.
                  9. Mix the borax with a wooden spoon until it's completely dissolved. Be careful not to breathe in the steam.borax pour and stir | Yellow Scope blog
                  10. Pour the water-borax solution back into the jar.
                  11. Gently lower your shamrock into the jar so it's suspended right in the middle. Make sure it does not touch the sides or bottom of the jar, or it might get stuck there!
                  12. Put the jar in an out-of-the-way place with good ventilation.
                  13. Come back the next day to see what happened!

                  shamrock crystal | Yellow Scope blog


                  What's going on?

                  You just made a shamrock crystal! A crystal is a special type of solid mineral in which the molecules fit together in an organized, repeating pattern. The process of crystallization is when molecules transition from chaos to uniformity!

                  There are many different types of crystals found in nature, but crystals are generally formed in three ways.

                  1. Some crystals, such as diamonds and emeralds, are formed when liquid rock (magma) slowly cools and hardens.
                  2. Other crystals, such as snowflakes and frost, are formed when water evaporates (dries up) and the crystal is left behind.
                  3. Still other crystals form when a supersaturated liquid that has a dissolved mineral in it, cools. The crystals in this experiment were formed in this way.

                  Growing crystals from hot water:

                  By heating the water, you were able to dissolve more borax than you could at room temperature because hot water molecules are farther apart so they have more space to hold borax. This is called a supersaturated solution.

                  As the solution cooled, the water molecules moved closer together, so borax came out of solution (out of being mixed), and borax crystals started to form on the tiny bristles of the pipe cleaner.

                  The size and shape of the crystals depends on how fast the solution cools. When solutions cool fast, smaller crystals are formed because they have less time to organize. Slow-cooling solutions tend to form larger crystals.

                  Design Your Own Experiments


                  • Try using food coloring in your water (maybe with a white pipe cleaner?)

                  • What happens if you put the jar in the fridge instead of leaving it out?

                  SHARE WITH US!

                  borax team | Yellow Scope blog

                  Let us know what you did. Share your photos and results with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or send us an email to We love getting your messages!

                  For more exciting experiments, check out our Yellow Scope Science Kits on the Shop tab of our website!

                  yellow scope science fair feature imageIt's science fair season! Want to help your child learn the scientific method with a fun project (and then show it off to others?) We've got a list of great resources.

                  Why participate in a science fair?

                  • Kids are natural scientists – they want to know how things work!
                  • Participating in the science fair at elementary school will help prepare kids for middle school science fairs, which are often mandatory.
                  • It's a fun family activity!

                  1. Choose A Project

                  Ask your child “What interests you?” Here's a list of three branches of science and possible questions they might want to know the answer to.

                  Life Science/Biology

                  girls experiment | Yellow ScopePlants – What type of soil do plants grow best in?
                  Animals – What type of food do compost worms prefer?
                  Human Body/Health – How does smell affect the sense of taste?
                  Microorganisms – How can you reduce odor in sneakers?
                  Environment – How does acid rain affect plants?

                  Earth Science

                  Weather – How does weather affect mood?
                  Geology – What are the best conditions for making sand castles?
                  Space – How do fins on a rocket affect flight?

                  girls experimentingPhysical Science

                  – How does the amount of baking soda affect cookies?
                  Energy – What is the best shock absorber for protecting eggs?
                  Matter – Which paper towel absorbs the best?

                  Experiments should be designed to be a fair test of the scientific question.

                  'Variables' are factors that we change during the experiment. Change only one variable at a time and keep everything else about your experiment the same.

                  2. Book Resources:

                  Janice VanCleave's A+ Science Fair Projects

                  Look for books at your school or local library. Some of our favorites:
                  • Janice VanCleave's A+ Science Fair Projects - A simple guide to the science fair process. 35 complete starter projects on various topics including:
                    * The angular distance between celestial bodies
                    * The breathing rate of goldfish
                    * Interactions in an ecosystem
                    * Nutrient differences in soils
                    * Heat transfer in the atmosphere
                    * Magnetism from electricity

                  • everything kids book | Yellow ScopeThe Everything Kids' Science Experiments Book - Experiments using household materials that answer questions like:
                    *Is it possible to blow up a balloon without actually blowing into it?
                    *What is inside coins?
                    *Can a magnet ever be "turned off"?
                    *Do toilets always flush in the same direction?
                    *Can a swimming pool be cleaned with just the breath of one person?
                  • kitchen science book  | Yellow ScopeKitchen Science Lab for Kids - 52 science activities for kids that encourage experimentation in biology, chemistry and physics in the family kitchen or backyard. Many example experiments are great for toddlers, or exciting enough for tweens.
                    Also check out the Gardening Lab and Outdoor Science Lab books from the same series for more ideas!

                  3._Online Resources

                  • Science Fair Central -  An updated site with easy to use tabs that help students choose a project based on their interests.
                  • Science buddies website logo | Yellow ScopeScience Buddies - This site includes a Topic Selection Wizard that leads the student through a series of questions, including grade level, area of science and amount of time until the project is due to help them select just the right experiment!
                  • babble dabble do logo | Yellow ScopeBabble Dabble Do - Over 20 fresh and creative science projects, including more tips and book resources. Divides projects into grade groups, including kindergarten - 1st, 2nd - 4th, and 5th grade and up!
                  • camp yellow scope logoCamp Yellow Scope - Our summer series of eight fun-filled and colorful science experiments, easily translatable to a science fair experiment! Learn about surface tension; density, mass and volume; chemical reactions; pigments and 'unmixing colors'; capillary action; isolating DNA from strawberries; molecular interactions by painting on milk, and more!



                  Yellow Scope Chemistry kit

                  4._Science Kit Resources

                  Short on time? Or want the convenience of everything together in one place? Consider a science kit – but be careful to chose a high quality kit with experiments that test a specific question.

                  Yellow Scope science kits offer suggestions for experimental extensions that could be developed into a unique science fair project!

                  TYellow Scope Acids kithe Foundation Chemistry Kit explores key concepts like chemical reactions, molecular motion, and the effect of temperature.

                  The Acids, Bases and pH Kit explores the mysteries of household acids and bases, and the "Be A Maker" chapter shows girls how to make their own acid-base indicator and pH paper at home.

                  5. Follow the Scientific Method!

                  Follow the steps of the scientific method and you can’t go wrong! Here's a handy flowchart for kids to refer to when designing and presenting a project. (They can even cut out the titles for each step and “fill in the blanks”). Click on the image for a printable PDF:

                  Scientific method | Yellow Scope


                  Tips for Success

                  • Choose a topic that is interesting/relevant to your child.
                  • Follow the steps of the Scientific Method and you can’t go wrong!
                  • Approach the project over several sessions so it is not overwhelming.
                  • Personalize the presentation with artwork, graphics and perhaps a hands-on demo!
                  • Don't do the work your child should be doing - you're just the guide!

                  SHARE WITH US!

                  Let us know what you did. Share your photos from home or the fair with us on Facebook, Twitter, or send us an email to We love getting your messages!

                  2017 Gift Guide 12 Days of Girl Power | Yellow Scope Science Kits for Girls
                  We pulled together 12 of our favorite girl power gifts for the season. From science kits to books to posters to t-shirts, these gifts will empower the young girls on your list to know they can be anything they can dream of.
                  1. YELLOW SCOPE CHEMISTRY KITS
                   yellow scope foundation kit
                  yellow scope acids bases ph
                  Award-winning Yellow Scope science kits are chock full of real science. The fun, colorful, hands-on chemistry experiments take girls seriously. No perfume or bubble gum here.
                  Ages 8-12. From $24.99.
                  2. GIRLS WHO CODE BOOK
                  girls who code book
                  Part how-to, part girl-empowerment, this new book from Girls Who Code founder, Reshma Saujani, is filled with great illustrations and easy-to-follow instructions. A perfect introduction to the wonderful world of coding.
                  Ages 10+. $17.99.
                  3. LOTTIE DOLLS
                  lottie doll 
                  We love these award-winning dolls, designed with bodies based on an average nine-year-old girl. With inspiring background stories, the dolls empower girls to be anything they can dream of – from a wildlife photographer, to a paleontologist, to an astronomer.
                  Ages 3+. From $19.95.
                  4. WILD FEMINIST T-SHIRT
                  wild feminist t shirt 
                  For the little feminist in your life, check out the Wild Feminist t-shirt line from our friends (and Portland neighbors) at Wildfang. Also available in baby onesies and adult sizes. Because any age is the right age for feminism.
                  Kids S, M, L. $28.00
                  5. SMORE MAGAZINE
                  smore magazine cover
                   Ignite her brilliance all year long with a subscription to SMORE, a science magazine that encourages kids to know more and be more.
                  Ages 7+. From $30/year.
                  6. STRONG, SMART, BOLD NECKLACE
                  We love this necklace created by the father-daughter duo at Little Lux to benefit Girls Inc. Put one in your basket for the strong, smart and bold girl in your life - and give back at the same time.
                  Ages 3+. $24.95.
                  7. FEMINIST HOUSEHOLD POSTER
                   feminist household mike reynolds
                  We love these beautiful posters from Mike Reynolds – feminist, dad, blogger, and activist extraordinaire.
                  All ages. From $11.
                  8. WOMEN WHO DARED BLOCKS
                  women who dared blocks
                   Mix up your wooden block collection with this inspiring 32-block set from Uncle Goose, featuring women who overcame obstacles and persevered.
                  Ages 2+. $64.00.
                  9. FEMINIST ICON PRINTS
                  the film artist feminist icon prints
                  We all need these feminist icon prints. Pick one or several as a colorful tribute to outstanding women and their incredible accomplishments!
                  All ages. From $12.00.
                  she persisted by chelsea clinton 
                  Written by Chelsea Clinton, this beautifully illustrated book tells the stories of 13 American women who persisted and changed history.
                  Ages 4-8. $13.50 at your local bookstore
                  11. WONDER WOMAN POSTER
                  wonder woman watercolor 
                  Inspire your little superhero with these magical watercolor printable posters.
                  All ages. $3.00.
                  (Wonder Woman print: here)
                  12. THINK LIKE A GIRL T-SHIRTS
                  yellow scope tshirt blue yellow scope tshirt black
                  Girls are bombarded with messages that maybe it’s not OK to think like a girl. Balderdash.  Let her know that her brain is amazing!
                  Girls’ and Women's sizes $19.95.