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The Department of Energy has fascinating some STEM ideas for April Fools' Day that are safe, amusing, and above all, educational.

Spencer Chin

March 29, 2023

3 Min Read
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STEM experiments can provide some fun activity on April Fools’ Day while also being educational.Gideon Mendel/Getty Images

Some April Fools' Day gags are truly funny, some are not-so funny, some get boring after a while, and (unfortunately) some can be harmful.  On the Department of Energy site two years ago, the agency, which by and large has a serious side, posted some STEM activities that are meant to entertain people of all ages, but also teach about the properties of various materials and how they interact with other materials or humans.

The gags don’t require costly preparation or materials and can safely be done at home.  Enjoy and learn!

More STEM activities, which you don’t have wait for April 1 to do, can be found at www.energy.gov/STEM.

Disappearing Color

You will need the following:

-Cranberry juice

-Clear glass

-Eyedropper

-Bleach

Pour half a cup of cranberry juice into the clear glass. Then, use the eyedropper to add a bit of bleach to the juice. Keep adding until the juice turns completely yellow. Then, slowly pour a stream of cranberry juice into the glass and watch the color disappear. (Don't drink it!)

An Aquifier You Can Eat

Sprinkles, candy, soda, food coloring, ice cream, cookies, a clear cup, and a straw? Yes, this sounds like the makings of an excellent science project. Monique Warren, Environmental Engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, walks you through how to create an example aquifer – an underground storage of water – that you can actually eat. 

Related:Girls Belong in Engineering

You can view this cool video to do the experiment.

Make Rainbow Milk

How can you make the colors move without actually swirling them?

You will need the following:

-Milk

-Food coloring

-Toothpicks

 Pour some milk, preferably higher fat milk such as half-and-half, into a shallow bowl. Add one drop of four different food colors, close to one another but not touching. Dip a toothpick in liquid soap and place in the middle of the container--not touching any of the food coloring. Hold the toothpick down and watch what happens?

Bond Energy

Feel the power of magic (OK, science) with this spoon trick.

You will need the following:

-Plastic spoon

Take a plastic spoon and blow a couple of times into the bowl of the spoon. Now try to hang the spoon on your nose (make sure you don’t have any lotion on your nose). Now try hanging the spoon on your nose without blowing on it. What makes the spoon hang on your nose when you blow on it? (The hydrogen bonds connect the water vapor in your breath to the moisture on your nose).

Rubber Band Energy

You can feel the changes in heat energy when molecules in rubber align themselves in different ways in this experiment.

Related:Smart Toys for the Young Engineer

You will need the following:

-Rubber bands

Take a thick rubber band and stretch it out two or three times with your fingers. Next, place the rubber band next to your forehead. As you stretch the rubber band, feel the difference in temperature. Keeping the rubber band in the same place, feel the difference in temperature. Did you feel a change in temperature?

Exploding Toothpaste

Chemistry, surface tension, catalysts, and reaction – you get it all when you make exploding toothpaste. With a few magic ingredients, you can make a foamy “toothpaste” that shoots up in the air, using liquid dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, food coloring, safety supplies, and a few other objects. Get the details from Scientific American’s website.  

See this experiment done on stage at the Fun With Science Show at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on their website. 

 

About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor with Design News, covering the electronics beat.

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