Science to fill the post-Christmas lull: a practical guide

We all know the feeling. The festivities are over and done with, the novelty of all of the newly-sort Christmas toys have worn off, and if you eat another morsel of food you may just burst.

The post-Christmas lull. Those six whole days after Christmas until New Year’s Eve. The family are driving you crazy, the TV is churning out the same old repeats, and you have the impatient stirrings of doing *something*. But what exactly?!

Well, you are in luck.

Here is a pre-emptive guide of some science-themed activities to get you through this period, before the fear of deadlines and all of those lab tasks you left for after the holidays slowly creeps back in. These ideas are also great for getting younger family members involved in science (or just to satisfy your inner kid), so roll up your sleeves and get stuck in!

 

1. Candy chromatography

Ever wonder how candy is so colourful? Make use of all of that left-over Christmas candy to figure out the colour composition whilst teach the principles of chromatography. Full instructions can be found at LIVESCIENCE.

 

2. Use the power of crystallization to grow your own snowflake

Longing for some snow to try out your new snowboard or skis? Why not create your own! Using borax and a few household items, you can find re-create this fun crystallization activity at home (see here for instructions). Although in reality you may not get enough for snowboarding, but you can create some nifty decorations and may even stumble upon a new method for producing protein crystals!

crystalImage by Steve Spangler Science

 

3. Engineer a hybrid rocket engine

Feeling too sluggish to leave the warmth of indoors to go out partying this festive period? Then you need to engineer your very own hybrid rocket to propel yourself out of the house and onto the dancefloor! Watch this video from NightHawkInLight to get you going.  

 

4. Chanel your inner artist and create some liquid art

In addition to gorging on candy canes, why not recreate your own whilst get your hands dirty and create some sweet gooey art! Science Sparks  have a fun guide explaining how to get creative with Newtonian fluids.

artImage by Science Sparks

 

5. Surprise someone with bubbling hot chocolate

Next time someone asks for brew, raise a few laughs and spirits with this little practical joke. Mix a little baking soda in with powdered hot cocoa mix, pour on vinegar, and watch the messy eruption form before their disbelieving eyes. The chemical reaction between the acid (vinegar) and base (baking soda) create choco-bubbles filled with carbon dioxide. A bonus may be that it will be the last time you get asked to make drinks!

 

 

6. Star in your very own science-themed Youtube video

Think about it. You will get to practice your moves for NYE, whilst brushing up on the latest lab techniques and making use of that new smartphone or camera. Take inspiration from the brilliant Zheng Lab who crafted “Bad Project” a Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance parody about a failing lab venture, or the Bio Rad GTCA song. You never know, you could be the new Brian May.  

 

Science is fun and exciting, but it can be dangerous. So please take care whenever performing science at home, and make sure you take all of the necessary safety precautions!

 

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