Oct'16

#Tinker: 3 Halloween Experiments


by STEM Scouts



These three Halloween science experiments incorporate science into this spooky, fun holiday. You can even snack on a few pieces of candy while conducting these easy science activities. Some adult supervision required. Check our video at the bottom of the post to see these experiments in action.


Dancing Ghost

dancing_ghost_science_experiment

Materials

  • One sheet of tissue paper
  • One balloon
  • A pair of scissors

Experiment

  • Cut a 4 cm ghost out of the tissue paper, ensuring it is thin as possible.
  • Blow up a balloon fully and tie it off.
  • Quickly rub the balloon against your hair.
  • With the tissue ghost lying flat on the table, gently lower the balloon from above.
  • Watch it go! The ghost should float right to the balloon. If it sticks, peel it off and try again. If you can find the right balance, the ghost should rise and fall—or “dance” around—without sticking.

How Does It Work?

Static electricity is the imbalance between positive and negative charges. When you rub a balloon against your hair, a negative charge builds on the balloon. These charges have enough power to lift a light object, such as the tissue ghost.

Spooky Cup

spooky_cup_science_experiment

Materials

  • One plastic cup
  • A thumbtack or pair of scissors
  • Roughly 60 centimeters, or two feet, of yarn
  • One or two paper towels
  • Water

Experiment

  • Begin by poking a hole in the bottom of your cup, just large enough to slip your yarn through.
  • Run one end of your yarn through the hole.
  • After the string is through the cup, tie the end on the inside to a paper clip.
  • Wet a paper towel and fold it into a smaller square.
  • Using the wet paper towel, pinch the string between two fingers and slowly pull down.
  • What do you hear? Once you’ve perfected the speed and strength of your pull, you should hear some pretty spooky noises!

How Does It Work?

This experiment is a slight variation on the classic Chicken Cup Experiment and the two are very similar. First, you must understand that sound is created by vibrations. As you run the paper towel across the string, this produces vibrations in the string. Since the connection between the cup and the string is tight, the cup amplifies the sound. The combination of string and cup creating a “musical” instrument are what creates this unusual sound.

Flying Monsters

Materials

  • A few tea bags
  • One marker
  • A pair of scissors
  • One lighter

Experiment

  • Take a tea bag and cut the top off, then empty the leaves out.
  • Open the bag fully and straighten it into a cylindrical shape. (For best results, use a flow-through tea bag.)
  • Draw a monster face on the bag—perhaps a ghost, vampire or mummy!
  • Stand the cylindrical bag upright on a nonflammable surface.
  • Using adult supervision, light the top of tea bag.
  • Did you see that? The bag should have quickly floated away.

How Does It Work?

The flame causes the air inside the cylinder to quickly heat. This causes the molecules inside to become less dense. Air that is warm is less dense than cool air. This difference in air has enough force to cause the ash of the teabag to quickly rise. Looking for more fun that demonstrates density? Check out our Water Density and Density Column Experiments.

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