Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dry Ice Bubbles


This is what happens when you have an inquisitive daughter who LOVES SCIENCE.  She reads science books and comes to you and says "Mom, can we do this experiment at my next birthday party?"

You can order a kit from Steve Spangler here.  But we decided we could make one ourselves. Be sure to watch the YouTube video from their's "awesome sauce" as Emma would say.

So our sweet exhausted Mike, who has been working all day and going to work from midnight to 4 in the morning, somehow found the time to drill a hole in glass so that we could make our own apparatus.

The jar is one of those drink dispensers that I never used with a hole drilled in it with a glass drill bit.  We used the lid to control the amount of CO2 forced out the plastic tubing.  Be sure to keep the water level below the tubing so only water vapor and CO2 are forced out.  Use leather gloves to pick up the dry ice and put in warm water.  THE DRY ICE WILL BURN YOU IF YOU TOUCH IT.  DO NOT LET CHILDREN PLAY WITH DRY ICE.  I handled the dry ice (with heavy duty gloves) and placed it in the container myself.  Other than the dry ice, there is nothing else dangerous about this experiment.  I felt very safe letting the kids play with the bubbles.  I did make them wear goggles because of the dry ice and the soap.

We used warm water and dry ice to create the fog of CO2.  Then forced it into the plastic tubing which we dipped into a cup of Dawn dish soap.

This was our practice session for her upcoming birthday party.  We weren't sure what kind of soap solution would work best and if we had the right kind of gloves to actually keep the bubbles from popping.  This "dry" run was worth the money spent.  We needed the practice to figure out the right mixture of soap. In the photo below we tried bubble solution, but it did not work as well as the Dawn dish soap.

At first the bubbles popped immediately.  Then we added more soap and got the concentration of Dawn higher and the bubbles lasted a lot longer and really bounced like in the video.  The big girls could actually toss them back and forth.  We also learned that the first towel we had down was too stiff and bumpy and was popping all the bubbles.  Once we got a softer towel down the bubbles stopped bursting.

The science behind it.  Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide.  When it warms up to room temperature it sublimates, (it turns into a gas without going through the liquid stage).  We can help this process along by putting it into warm water and it really goes to town.  The carbon dioxide gas comes off so fast and it takes some water vapor along with it.  This fog pours out the top of the container until we put a lid on it (NEVER SEAL DRY ICE INTO A CONTAINER IT WILL BUILD UP PRESSURE AND EXPLODE AND HURT YOU) and force it out the plastic tube.  The plastic tube is put into the soap solution and the bubbles are filled with Carbon Dioxide which is heavier than air (which is mostly nitrogen) and water vapor.  The bubbles are heavy and with the cotton gloves and a thick surfactant like the dawn dish soap you can keep the bubbles from bursting and play with them.  They bounce and roll across the towel.  And then they pop, they release their CO2 and water vapor fog.

We invited fellow science nerd Jennifer K and her daughter Lily over to for our trial run.  Thanks for playing with us while we worked out the kinks.  I think we are ready!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I received a package I ordered from QVC yesterday and the box had writing on it.  Apparently the delivery driver was a former student of mine. 

Finding this on my front porch was like finding a fossil. It was a record of history that I had made an impression on another human being a long, long time ago. When I did the math I would have taught this boy from 1999-2000 school year. That was the year I left teaching at the mid year point. So I only taught him for one semester. But he remembered my name and saw it on the package. 

I'm sure glad he did. And I'm sure glad he told me he remembered me. I just wish he had left his name. 

He will never know how much this meant to me. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I have to share some observations and record some things that I have noticed for quite a while about both of my girls that I never want to forget.

Emma Jane is an old soul.  She has never viewed Lucy as a threat.  That is not to say that she is not annoyed by her sister.  Back in the days when Lucy was behaving badly, Emma was very annoyed with Lucy and was quite put out with her behavior.  (We all were.)  But she has always, since the moment Lucy was born, seemed to recognize the precious gift of having a sibling.  And I don't think that is quite normal at 5, 6, or even 10 years of age.  She has always been the first one to say "Look what Lucy is doing!  Isn't it cute?  Isn't she adorable?"  She speaks with pride, a motherly pride as if she is responsible for this adorable creature.  It's as if Lucy has three parents.

Lucy is observant and makes connections.  She will watch and observe and store things away.  Then she will put them all together like a puzzle and try it out and see if it fits.  She often remarks about wanting to live near her sister when they are grown.  She talks a lot about being grown and where she will live when she has her babies.  The other day when we were leaving Poteau and driving away from my dad's house she said, "Mom, how come your mom gets to be a grandma and Daddy's mom doesn't?  That's not fair?"  (Mike's mom died of Lymphoma in 1995)  I told her that she was right.  It was incredibly unfair, but that Grandma Jane was happy that she was living on in our hearts.  It was a poignant moment in the car, brought on by the words of a little five year old girl who seems to bring me to tears once a week.

A couple of weeks ago we were coming home from gymnastics and the moon was waxing.  Emma Jane gave the most amazing explanation in the car to Lucy about why the moon looks half full,  or full  or disappears from sight.  She talked about the earth's shadow and then turned on the light above her seat and used her two fists to show the earth's shadow crossing over the moon.  It was a great explanation that a five year old could completely grasp.  And Lucy seemed to understand that the moon doesn't disappear, it just can't be seen, because it's in the shadow of the earth.  I was pretty satisfied that Lucy got it and then she said, "Well, it's lucky that the earth and the moon are just so far apart.  Because if they were farther apart the earth's shadow would be a polka dot going across the moon, and if the earth were closer, we would never see the moon."  Emma Jane grabbed me by the shoulders in the car and said, "Did you just hear that?"

Last year, when Emma was in fourth grade, she told me that they had an IOC drill.  That is an Intruder On Campus drill.  My heart started to pound but outwardly I tried to act nonchalant, "Oh?"  She said that the teachers ushered them into bathrooms and made them hide in the back of the bathrooms and they turned off the lights and locked the doors and practiced being quiet.  She said that she didn't think she would be able to do it in the event of a real intruder.  I said, "What, be quiet?"  She said, "No, stay with my class."  I didn't understand.  I thought that maybe they were too loud or would put her in danger.  She saw the confused look on my face.  She said, "If there is an intruder on campus, I have to get to Lucy, Mom.  I can't let her be scared without me.  I have to get to her somehow."  I, of course, told her that she should take cover with her class, but my heart was saying you should absolutely be with your sister if there is an intruder on campus.  But I write this to remind myself that this child at 10 years old had a plan on how to get to her sister down a flight of stairs in an emergency.  I am in awe of her.

I don't know if it's normal for sisters to have this kind of bond.  I never had one.  But these two are each other's best friend, cheerleader, and accomplice.  They are the producer and director to each other's play.  They are the sun and the moon to each other.  They would be lost without each other.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Emma Jane CAN'T Do

Our dear neighbor Jordan left a comment on the last post, about Emma Jane's writing, asking what can she NOT do.  When I showed the comment to Emma last night she thought for a moment and said in her practical 10 year old way.

I can't see into black holes.

I can't make us independent of fossil fuels.

I can't stop hurricanes.

And I can't live without my sister.

Are my children purposefully trying to make me cry every day of my life?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Emma Jane's Writing

The assignment:  Write a short story where the main character discovers a secret.  Hook the reader with a great lead.  Have fun.  Use great grammar.

On Sunday afternoon while I was taking down Halloween decorations, Emma worked on her homework.  She wrote this in pencil in one draft.  She is ten years old.

Madeline rolled the cold, smooth key in her hand until she finally had the courage to slide the key into the lock; she turned the key slowly as it clicked.  As she thought, this room could have infinite possibilities, so many things could be in there and it all started when she was cleaning out her closet.

Madeline was eleven and lived in the country in a two story house with her mom and dad.  She was an only child.  Today she was cleaning out her closet full of clothes, toys and other random things.  She had just finished cleaning all the shelves when she climbed onto her footstool and found a little wooden box with a brass latch.  She climbed down and sat on her bed.  She unlatched the lid and opened it up and inside there was a key.  It was gold and worn down.  She wondered what the key was for.  She tried it on her room door, but that didn't work.  She tried it on her closet door, but that didn't work either.  So she put it back in the box and went to lunch. 

When she came back she realized that the key could go to a room that had been locked for as long as she could remember.  So she took the key out of the box and ran upstairs down the hallway to the last door.  She slowly turned the key until it clicked.   She nervously turned the knob and opened the door.  Inside there were two wardrobes, two of each play toy and two cribs.  Madeline walked slowly into the room.  She saw many pictures of her mom and dad and also saw a picture on a night stand between the two cribs of two babies that looked exactly the same.  She felt so light headed she went to go sit in one of the two rocking chairs.  The two girls looked like her.  She thought one of those babies must be her but who could the other one be?

Once she was feeling better she took the picture and walked downstairs to where her parents were reading.  She asked them who the other girl was and she got an answer.  When her parents were finished explaining, she was sad.  She had a sister, a twin sister.  She died when they were babies.

Sunsets, Rainbows and Eagles

This morning on the way to school Lucy asked why people get old and die.  I have no idea why this popped into her head or why she asked this question.  But she asked it.  I tried to explain that people's bodies get old and it's just time to go but that they have had a good life.  She then said "When you are gone, you will always live on in my heart Mommy."

I tried to maintain control of the car while blinking back the tears.  She proceeded to say, "And every time I see a sunset, a rainbow, or a bald eagle I will think of you."  (I have been known to stop and admire the sunset, rainbows and run off the road at a bald eagle sighting.)

Emma joined in with, "Or when I see periodic tables of elements, palindromes, or fonts, or eat perfect chili or pot roast."

We almost didn't make it to school this morning.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Warning!  There is some gore here.

This year for Halloween, Emma Jane wanted to go gruesome.  She decided she wanted me to use my simulation make-up skills and make her into something gross.  In September when we started discussing Halloween she said she wanted me to give her a wound or a compound fracture or maybe a knife wound.  The problem arises that we try to go as a unit each year.  The three of us try to go as a theme and how would I go gruesome with my eldest daughter while still sweet and cute with my youngest.

This is how we decided to be the firefighter, the fire dog and the burn victim.

I sewed Lucy's costume. 

Mike burned Emma's clothes to make hers.  I borrowed mine from the Tiawah fire department (and man was it heavy).

And I used my make up magic to make Emma look really quite disgusting.  She could not have been happier.  While Mike was out burning her clothes with a blow torch, she came in the house and said,
"The power of Mom plus the power of Dad equals AWESOME!"

Told you it was gross.  But she was so happy with how it looked.  She said multiple times how cool she thought it all was.  I have created a monster!  But one who is really proud of her momma...  She said to me on Halloween night, "I don't know which is cooler, that you can sew Lucy's cute costume or make such realistic burns on people, or that you can do both.  But I will always remember Halloweens with you...always."

Please let her think I'm cool in 3 years.  Happy Halloween everyone!