I don’t know who had the most fun being electrical engineers for the day. The answer might be mommy. We are plugging right along with exploring the letter E and being engineers has gotten the boys ohing, ahing and asking lots of questions.
We started out talking about dad’s job since he’s an electrical engineer. I’m not sure if they understand that dad doesn’t go to work and play with balloons all day since most of our experiments used balloons today. We had hoped to go up to his work and see the lightning chamber but it was being worked on so we’ll have to make a special trip at a later time to see that cool visual of electricity.
Our first experiment wasn’t all that exciting, but it helped to show how electricity flows. I took one of our very small flashlights and let the boys take the battery out of it. They love taking things apart! I showed the boys the two different ends in the chamber and I had to remind Lance to keep his fingers out so he wouldn’t bend the coil or break it. Then we looked at the two ends of a battery. I had them tell me whether each end was flat or knobby. Just throwing a bit of language in there too. I put the battery in the wrong way. Of-course the battery didn’t work. I took the battery out and put it in the right way and it worked. I told them that anytime a battery was used the battery had to be put in a certain way so the electricity could flow.
Next I pulled out the vacuum cleaner. I had the boys try to turn on the machine with the switch. Lance said “Why doesn’t it work mommy?” I love it when kids ask the perfect question for what you’d like to teach them. I told them that the outlet in the wall had electricity. So we plugged the vacuum in, flipped the switch and watched it come to life. I took this opportunity to let the boys clean my living room floor, just learning reinforcement mind you. I pulled the plug a few times while the boys vacuumed just to make the point of some machines running on electricity.
Now we moved into the fun experiments. I blew up a red balloon, any color works and almost everyone has a balloon somewhere in the house. I told the boys we were going to create our own electricity. I told Lance that I was going to rub the balloon on his head and it would create static electricity. At first he said he was too scared to let me do it, but eventually he decided I could. We laughed as each one of us got our hair to stand up. The boys wanted to get mom’s long hair to stand up but it weighed too much for our tiny bit of static electricity.
Next I poured out a few pieces of chex cereal. I had a hard time getting the boys to pay attention and not eat the cereal. Anyone else have kids that just go bonkers over food? So I rubbed the balloon over James’ head really well and put the balloon down close to the cereal. Just like magic the pieces stood up on end reaching up towards the balloon. I’d never done that before.
None of that impressed my electrical engineer husband until our last experiment. We bent water and he had never done that with a balloon. Kind of makes me laugh, you can always learn something new. I took the boys into the bathroom. I turned on the water to a low, steady stream. I rubbed my head really well then put the balloon down close to the water. What do know, the water actually bends and arcs towards the shape of the balloon. Now that’s cool science.
I didn’t explain all the details of the science because they’re too young for all that. I did tell them though that it was science at work and not magic that did all those things. I had fun. The boys had fun and I think their love for learning increased.