Monday, February 22, 2010

March Dates

Messy Fingers is a preschool science program currently held at the Millbury (MA) Public Library. If your nearby library or preschool program is interesting in hosting their own Messy Fingers program, please contact me at

In Millbury, our March programs and dates are:

March 2 - Wind and Weather
March 16 - Dinosaurs

Both start at 10:30 am.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We are on!

While there is a bit of snow falling from the sky, the roads are fairly clear! So come on down to the Millbury Public Library at 10:30 and learn about birds!

Friday, February 5, 2010


One of our intrepid young scientists tried some of the suggestions made after our Floating and Sinking program. She learned about "fish" and jello. Jello is loads of fun for many reasons and can be a delicious science material.

D and her mom grabbed some jello and candy fish to see if the fish float and how long the jello takes to solidify.

I am very proud of D and her family for making predictions before starting their project and that they learned new things as they went.

Check out the fish bowl experiment here.

Nice job!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Scientist in the house...

I was chatting with one of the moms of a frequent participant in Messy Fingers about Sid the Science Kid. Her son adored watching Sid. He was telling me about decomposition and how much he loved Sid.

Me too!

I love Sid. I have always been impressed with how well the show organizes a topic so that preschoolers are not just interested but excited about science.

The show's science and teaching methods are based on solid scientific research. I've been completely, pleasantly, delightedly impressed with the research on preschool science. As many of us already know, preschoolers are wicked smart! Now there is a growing body of peer-reviewed, hard science on how preschoolers learn and express scientific thinking.

I hope that I am as enthusiastic, creative and knowledgeable as Miss Susie, the teacher.

Just don't expect me to sing.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Float my boat...

What things float and what things sink is such a natural question for kids - even at very young ages. This presents a wonderful opportunity to practice being a scientist at bath time. Take a second and ask you kids to make a prediction about what floats and what sinks. Test your predictions and follow up with seeing if you were right.

During our Messy Fingers session yesterday, we made predictions about floaters and sinkers. We had a few surprises. A few objects floated at first on the surface of the water and then sank. They were held up by the surface tension of the water. Crayons were another surprise. I expected that since they are made of wax that they would float, but regular crayons sank. Fat crayons, even more surprisingly, neither sank or floated but hovered in the middle. One end floated more than the other. Cool.

We made boats out of tin foil and modeling clay. Our foil boats were modified by reshaping and adding floaties so they were strong enough to hold a ball of clay. This was quite a production. Both rectangular and canoe-shaped boats worked really well for this.

One mom wondered why I chose to use modeling clay rather than play dough to use in the water. I gave her some play dough to test out and it falls apart in the water (so it is washable!).

If you want to play with some other floating and sinking ideas, check out the ideas below:

Make a soap boat – cut a small boat from cardboard or foam. Leave a notch in the end. Float this in a pan of water. Does the boat float? Can you make it move? Put a tiny sliver of soap or a dot of liquid soap in the notch. What happens? Does this work in the tub? [This won’t work in the tub if you’ve used any soap. The boat floats on the surface tension of the water. Soap breaks up the tension.]

Flinkers – can you find an object that neither floats or sinks?

Fish – check out some fish. Either in your own aquarium or visit a local pet shop. How do they move? What shapes are they? Does their shape affect how they move? Can you move like the fish?

Jello - Make your own aquarium – make up some blue jello and as it solidifies, add some gummy sharks or fish. Make a prediction about how long it will take to solidify. Why don’t they float up to the top? Watch the jello as it solidifies. How long does it take?

For some other great boat activities, click here.