Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Junior Girl Scout Science Discovery Badge -- Homeschool-style

AnnaBeth missed most of the meetings in which her troop worked on the Science Discovery badge, so we've been working on it here at home ... and counting it as homeschool science. I love the Junior Girls Scout science badges -- they're so wonderfully open-ended -- so this hasn't been a hardship at all.

Activity 1. Chemical Appearing Act.

As written in the Junior Badge book, you're supposed to combine 4 Tblsp of cornstarch with 1 cup of warm water for the "magic ink", then paint or write with it on paper. Next, put a Tblsp of iodine tincture in 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and paint the iodine solution over the paper to see your secret picture or message magically appear.

But I had a hazy memory that you don't need rubbing alcohol for this. So I looked up and used these directions instead.

What neither the website nor the badge book mentions is that you need to test your paper with the iodine solution before you even begin this project. Some paper has a sort of starchiness to it that develops the iodine solution whether there's cornstarch on it or not. Our printer paper came out purple even without cornstarch, but our art sketchbook paper worked beautifully.

2. Light and Reflection.

The badge book has a rather lame set of directions for making a kaleidoscope. I really like these directions better. Although I'd see about getting some plastic mirrors to cut up and put inside -- so much more reflective, and probably about as easy to find as the heavy plastic they're calling for.

In any event, we totally by-passed all of this and bought a kit. It really IS easy to put together. We didn't discover the directions inside the box lid until we had it all done -- we had just lined it up according to the diagram on the bottom of the box.

3. Water Tricks.

Make a needle float on water. The badge book didn't suggest using a tissue to lower the needle into the water (which is sort of a standard suggestion for this particular experiment), so we tried it without the tissue. Some needles sank, but some floated.

View from the bottom of the dish. The needle in the hazy distance is the one currently floating on top.

Also, find out how many drops of water you can put on a penny (this experiment always bugs me because drop sizes are going to vary). Then put a dab of soap on your finger and touch the water to see what happens.

I had found some nice kid-friendly explanations of surface tension online, but, alas, didn't bookmark them.

4. Can't Live Without It -- make a collage about sciency stuff, and 5. Act Like a Scientist -- draw/identify/classify some stuff -- we skipped these.

6. Become a Scientist. AnnaBeth made it to the meeting where a scientist was interviewed.

7. It's a Hands-On and Happening Place. Visit a science museum. Ummm, yeah, maybe we'll have time for that ... we haven't been all year, although we used to go once a month.

8. Environmental Observer. We copied off the Stream Health Checklist in the badge book and took it with us to a local stream. The checklist asks you to rate the cleanliness, water flow, clearness of the water, amount of wildlife, odor, etc. etc. as simply Good, Fair, or Poor. It was a nice way for a kid to begin thinking about these things.

9. See What? Optical illusions. AnnaBeth had fun with this site.

10. Here's the Rub. These are friction experiments that AnnaBeth did in a meeting. And Thalia did in Apologia Physical Science. You know, send something down a ramp that's been made slick or sticky or gritty, then compare speeds. If we'd done it at home I would've used the slide on our playset.

So, more than 6 activities completed, and we're done with the badge!


Freakmom said...

Don't you hate how poor the directions are in the GS badge book and Try-it book? We've scrapped their directions more often than not too. I also don't like how they don't provide what the results are supposed to be.

Glad you guys had fun with the badge! This one is on Violet's "still wants to do list" so I'm going to come back to this post when we get to it!

Gail said...

It used to bother me that they didn't list what the results should be, but then I realized that I could just use it as a jumping-off point and do whatever we wanted with the idea.

These badges seem to be MADE for rabbit trails. But I think they'd be awfully boring in a troop setting where you couldn't just go off on a tangent.

Ami said...

I saved the Brownie and Junior badge books because so many of the things in them are perfect for quick ideas for my after school kids.

It looks like you had a lot of fun with them... where did you get the kaleidoscope kit?

Gail said...

I got the kit from Amazon.com. I planned to go to a locally owned toy store, but the lure of a gift card and free shipping directly to my door sucked me in.

It's available cheaper other places online.