What happens to water as it cools?

This experiment would have been far, far better if I’d had a thermometer.

My son was doing some science homework, and seemed a bit confused about what would happen to hot and cold water if left on the table.

Now whenever possible, if your child expresses confusion about a science topic, don’t just explain, do an experiment. Most science for young kids is informal enough and practical enough that there’ll be some way to do the experiment around the house.

In this case, it was simple. I filled one cup with water from the kettle, another with water and ice. I asked my son to label each cup, and write down his predictions about what would happen in the end. You can see the setup below:

The Experimental Setup
The Experimental Setup

If we had had a thermometer, I would have asked him to measure the temperature of each cup at various time intervals, say immediately, after 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes and an hour. Then he would have been able to see that both cups reach the ambient temperature of the air around them. As it was, his “thermometer” was to dip his finger in the cups. Too subjective, alas. I’ll have to get a thermometer and try again one day.

Adding Heat Doesn’t Cool It Down

This post is wrong!! It’s been pointed out that adding salt to boiling water raises the boiling point. It doesn’t lower it. So something very strange was happening in the experiment below. Perhaps it was just a screwy thermometer??

Just for a change, here’s a post about Chemistry. Or Physics, some might argue. I say Chemistry.

My son had just finished some questions in a science workbook, and I had to mark it. Unfortunately, there was one question I didn’t know the answer to – does adding salt to water lower its boiling point?

Continue reading Adding Heat Doesn’t Cool It Down

A Mother and Her Autistic Daughter

I’ve been exchanging emails with a mother of an autistic child. Her name is Penny, and she has a blog of her own, about how she tries to teach her autistic daughter. The technique she is using seems to work – her daughter, now 11, is slowly catching up with other more “normal” kids, in terms of academic skills.

Continue reading A Mother and Her Autistic Daughter