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.
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.
Begin by connecting 5 carbon atoms with one oxygen atom in a hexagonal arrangement.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 a Snap Circuits Jr. Kit. She 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.