Monday, February 22, 2016

Brownie Badge: Home Scientist

When our older girls were first year Brownies, they earned the Home Scientist badge.  The other troop leader and I conducted the experiments during our time together in our typical meeting place.  Prior to the meeting, we selected one experiment to do for each of the five badge steps.  After reciting the Girl Scout Promise and saying the Pledge of Allegiance, we completed these experiments, finishing early.  Knowing we had extra time, the girls asked to try some of the other experiments.  Thankfully we had many of the supplies on hand, and we only had to purchase a few items for the experiments chosen.  For us, this was a relatively inexpensive and easy badge to earn.

Last week, our younger girls had the opportunity to earn this badge.  I decided to change it up since the older girls would also be in attendance.  It was a fun meeting, so I thought I would share our ideas here.  Please note that we finished all the activities listed in this post in about an hour.  We spent the remaining time decorating more cards for veterans and their families at the Fisher House.

STEP 1:  Be a kitchen chemist.   
Growing rock candy is one of the choices provided to complete this step.  Since we performed this experiment the first time around, I decided to use rock candy as a springboard for discussion.
Here is the information I presented our girls (ages 8 to 11):
  • Sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets.
  • There are many different forms of sugar:  powdered sugar, granulated sugar, sugar cubes, rock candy, liquid sugar (simple syrup).  I showed the girls samples and explained that certain recipes call for sugar in a specific form.  Substituting a different form of sugar may not produce the desired result.
  • Another name for sugar is sucrose.
  • Sucrose is made by combining glucose and fructose (simple sugars found in fruit).
  • Since sucrose is made by adding other sugars together, it is a complex sugar.
  • The simple sugar glucose is comprised of 6 carbon atoms, 6 oxygen atoms, and 12 hydrogen atoms.  
  • Because glucose contains carbon, it is an organic compound.
  • Organic compounds are necessary for life, and many of our foods are comprised of organic compounds.  
  • Cells use organic compounds to produce energy.  
After this brief lesson, our girls built sugar molecules (glucose), using gumdrops and toothpicks.  I discovered this activity in the booklet for my daughter's Candy Chemistry set.  Due to limitations on the use of copywrited works, I used a molecular model set to illustrate the steps instead of posting the picture from the booklet.  

Prior to the meeting, I sorted gumdrops by color and placed 6 of one color, 6 of a second color, and 12 of a third color in a plastic baggie for each girl.  

The letters C (carbon), O (oxygen), and H (hydrogen) were written on mini post-it notes.  The girls sorted their gumdrops into piles and labeled the piles using these post-its.  This is highly recommended since they will all be working with different colored candies.                                                                                                              

Step 1:
Begin by connecting 5 carbon atoms with one oxygen atom in a hexagonal arrangement.                                                                     

Step 2:
Starting at the red (in this case) oxygen atom, move one carbon atom to the left.  Connect the 6th carbon atom here.

NOTE:  In successive steps, I will instruct you to begin at this (red) oxygen atom.

Step 3:
Working off to the side, connect each of the five remaining oxygen atoms with one hydrogen atom to form hydroxl groups.  Please excuse this picture because I accidentally included six hydroxl groups. 

Stick a toothpick in each of the six remaining gumdrops representing hydrogen.

Step 4: 
Turn your molecule so the (red) oxygen atom is at the top (away from you).  Move one carbon atom to the left in the hexagon and attach one hydrogen atom.  Then move to the carbon atom added in Step 2 and connect one hydroxl group and two hydrogen atoms.

Step 5:
Moving to the next carbon atom in your hexagon, attach one hydroxl group and one hydrogen atom to the carbon atom.  Repeat for the next three carbon atoms, each one receiving a hydroxl group and a hydrogen.

While this lesson is quite advanced for kids this age, our girls seemed to grasp the concepts.  The younger girls needed a little assistance building their models, but the older girls managed without too much trouble.  When questions were asked during this time, we made sure the girls turned the model so the oxygen atom was at the top (Step 1 above).  Directing them from that point seemed easiest for us. 
STEP 2:  Create static electricity.
We made pepper dance and talked about how it works, using the badge booklet as a guide.

STEP 3:  Dive into density.
We made raisins dance.  Once again, we talked about what happens, using the badge booklet as a guide.

STEP 4:   Make something bubble up.


The soda geyser is always a favorite!  We've done it twice with our troop, and I know a couple of science teachers do it for the science classes at school.  

My older daughter received a volcano kit for Christmas one year.  She had fun building it, and making it erupt by combining vinegar and baking soda.  We incorporated a volcanic eruption into our Home Scientist badge steps.

STEP 5:  Play with science.
A couple years ago, a family member gave my younger daughter Snap Circuits Jr. KitShe built a circuit for this meeting.  When the circuit was closed, a light would shine brightly.  We related this concept to the Girl Scout Friendship Squeeze.  If we all hold hands, and I start the squeeze, it will be passed around the circle and return to me.  This is an example of a closed circuit.  If I start the squeeze and our coleader drops someone's hand, the squeeze will stop at her.  The circuit is not closed.  Many of the girls had learned about circuits at school, so this was a good review.  This simple demonstration helped illustrate this concept for the girls who have not yet learned about circuits.

While flipping through the Candy Chemistry handbook, I came across an idea for candy circuit boards.  Prior to the meeting, I spread green frosting over the top of graham crackers.  We provided chocolate bars, peanut butter squares, gumdrops, mini peanut butter cups, gumdrops, Necco wafers, Life Savers, and Pull 'n' Peel Twizzlers.  Our girls had so much fun constructing their boards, using the picture from the Candy Chemistry handbook as a guide. 

Whether you schedule a Home Scientist badge program through a local museum, or guide the girls through the steps in the booklet, or try something outside the box, this is a really fun badge to help your girls earn.  Thank you for reading!

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