Penny Batteries Part II: A Wee Success

Wait! Is the bulb lighting? I can't tell!
Is the bulb lighting? Hard to tell. This shows a four-cell battery using pennies and zinc washers.

posted by Beret

Remember my penny battery debacle?

I decided to hunker back down in my laboratory (aka, basement) to see if I could get the darn thing to finally work. I approached the project with a new tool:  very, very low expectations. I am beginning to think that may be the secret to success in a variety of situations.      Continue reading “Penny Batteries Part II: A Wee Success”

Stupid Penny Batteries Part I: FAIL

©2014 Beret Olsen
©2014 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Ages:  Persons of most any age can do this project as unsuccessfully as I did.

I had such a good time making lemon batteries last year that I got VERY EXCITED when I discovered another way to make batteries out of ordinary, every day objects. Lemon batteries were awesome. Lemon batteries were easy. So why not try penny batteries? I’ll tell you.    Continue reading “Stupid Penny Batteries Part I: FAIL”

Pocket Flashlights!

©2014  Beret Olsen
©2014 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Weather systems appear to have gone haywire.

I won’t mention that it’s been unseasonably warm and sunny here, because people suffering in winter wonderland get a little huffy about that. They’ll have the last laugh when I sink into the ocean, though.

Whatever the weather, it never hurts to be prepared. Below are instructions for making an unbelievably simple flashlight that can live in your wallet/backpack/glove compartment/bedside table. You will be ready for any power outage, midnight snack emergency, or for when you drop a $20 bill in a dark movie theater. NEVER use this to illuminate the bottom of your theater seat, however. Nothing can prepare you for what lurks there.    Continue reading “Pocket Flashlights!”

Smartphone projector!

Check out the crappity lens we used. It still worked!
©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Age range:  This project is appropriate for anyone who can safely wield a box cutter, and hold a smartphone without doing irreparable damage. At our house, that means 8 and up.

I’ve heard about the smartphone projector project, and I wanted to see if it could be as simple as it looked.

Good news:  it’s pretty darn simple. I even made it work without the help of my resident engineer.  Continue reading “Smartphone projector!”

A Blast from the Past

Gina and Beret are mostly off-duty this week, but we thought we’d remind you of a few past projects to tide you over during what remains of the holidays. Here are projects that are easy, fun, and use common household materials. String of lights? Check. Alka-Seltzer? Check. Put those holiday items to a new use. Continue reading “A Blast from the Past”

Chromatography for Beginners

chromatography results
Chromatography results                                                                                  ©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Ages: almost any

The word chromatography comes from Greek roots:

chroma = color

graphia = writing

Literally, writing with color. In scientific practice, chromatography is a set of processes by which a mixture is separated into its component parts, generally by moving it through paper or gelatin. This can involve some very sophisticated equipment and compounds.

Or not.   Continue reading “Chromatography for Beginners”

Homemade Lava Lamps!

posted by Gina

Age Range: 5 and up.

This is a nifty (dare we say groovy?) experiment that kept Larry the Cat amused for several hours today – ensuring its success with your kiddo.

You Will Need:

New Kitchen! Shiny Kitchen!
Behold Gina’s new apartment!
  • An empty bottle – those schmancy designer water bottles work well (as do empty – erm – adult bottles, as pictured above), but any empty, clear bottle will work just fine
  • Oil
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Alka-Seltzer tablets

Continue reading “Homemade Lava Lamps!”

Make Your Own Play-Doh

posted by Gina

Who doesn’t love Play-Doh?

There’s something for all ages – from the mucking-about-with-it Pre-K-style to the sculpt-yourself-some-impressive-creations (I’m looking at you, Josie) up-through-6th-Grade-or-so style.

But it dries out.  The colors get muddled.  And you find yourself not wanting to shell out for yet another set of little yellow tubs.

Fear not, my friends – because it is insanely easy to make Play-Doh at home.  Continue reading “Make Your Own Play-Doh”

Dry Ice: Not just for Halloween anymore

©2013 Beret Olsen
Sublimation rocks! A glass of warm water accelerates the process.                                                     (See Bubbles and Fog, below)                                                                          ©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Ages: 6 and up. Actually, any age is probably ok, as long as your kid can wear goggles and gloves and responds appropriately to “No!” and “Don’t touch that!”

Included in this post:

Continue reading “Dry Ice: Not just for Halloween anymore”

Camp Beret Begins

Taken from The Navigators site.
Image found on navigators.org.

posted by Beret

Well, it happened.

It happens every year.

The end of the school year approached, mayhem ensued, and now the two best reasons to ignore everything else in the world are in my house 24/7.

It’s looking a little grim for a post until “Camp Beret” goes on a brief hiatus July 8.

Who knows, my esteemed co-conspirator Gina might make a surprise appearance, or I might get lucky and squeeze out a book review before mid-July. But just in case, I’m sending apologies in advance.

Since many of you are experiencing a spike in quality time with your kids as well, might I suggest perusing the archives? Perhaps this is the summer to mummify a chicken, or make a lemon battery, invisible ink, or ice cream in a bag. Maybe you want to try extracting DNA from fruit, or use cabbage juice as a pH indicator. Now’s your chance.     Continue reading “Camp Beret Begins”