By: Jenny Franklin.
When it comes to closing the gender gap in math and sciences, we’ve made excellent progress since 1970, but there is still a long way to go. Trends in math and science scores still show that a gap between boys and girls begins to emerge around age 13, and becomes more pronounced all the way through high school. Finding ways to show girls the more fun side of math and science can help to keep them interested in the long term, and give them a real advantage later on. Girls’ birthday parties can be the perfect opportunity to bring some fun, hands-on science into the lives of your daughter and her friends.
Fun Science-Minded Party Ideas:
• Classic Baking Soda Volcano. Most people remember the fun of setting up their own eruption as a child, and it’s just so easy! All you need is a container for the reaction, a little baking soda, and some vinegar. You can have the girls build a volcano if you want, but the reaction will be exciting and messy either way. Place the container somewhere you won’t mind the mess, pour in the baking soda, and let the girls add the vinegar. Stand back and watch them discover the fun of chemical reactions!
• Mentos and Coke. It’s a classic, messy, fun experiment that will (hopefully) never go out of style. This also should only be done outside, as you’ve probably guessed. Set up a series of large soda bottles on the grass and have the girls drop a handful Mentos in each and run. You can experiment with how many candies it takes, whose bottle explodes faster, or whose drains the most before the reaction stops.
• Balloons. No kids’ party would be complete without balloons, but they can be so much more than decoration. Take some extra balloons and stretch them out well. For each girl, provide a water or soda bottle with about an ounce and a half of water, a lemon, and about a teaspoon of baking soda. Have the girls stir the baking soda into the water well. They’ll want to be quick about the next steps: add the lemon juice, then stretch the balloon over the mouth of the bottle. The release of carbon dioxide should fill their balloons for them. It’s like magic, only better because you can explain exactly what is happening.
• Capillary Action. You can teach the kids about capillary action with nothing more than two glasses and some paper towels. You’ll probably want to start this experiment early and have a plan to come back to it later, as it will take some time. Simply fill one glass with water, and consider adding food dye for effect. It’s also a good idea to mark the water level on the glass to track the results. Twist together some paper towels into a rope, then put one end in the water and the other in the empty glass. Watch the water be wicked from one glass to another over time, and discuss that this is how water moves through the roots of a plant.
• Fun with Food Coloring. Use food coloring to demonstrate how water molecules move faster at higher temperatures with this incredibly simple, but visually interesting experiment. Simply fill two glasses with about the same amount of water, one with hot, the other with cold. Set them side by side and add one drop of food coloring to each, as close to the same time as you can.
The above are experiments that can be done with almost any age group, but as your kids get older and more capable the possibilities grow exponentially. Remember, learning is exciting, science is fun, and not every mad scientist is a boy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jenny Franklin plans birthdays for children and loves to spend time with her family. In her spare time, she is a freelance writer for Girls’ birthday party supplies producer, Party Pail.
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