What Kids Learn From This STEAM Activity
Kids can learn several valuable lessons from the STEAM activity Puking Pumpkin. Firstly, they gain a hands-on understanding of basic chemical reactions as they mix baking soda and vinegar to create a puking liquid, demonstrating the principles of acid-base reactions. When baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, a base) reacts with vinegar (acetic acid), it produces carbon dioxide gas, water, and a type of salt. This chemical reaction results in the release of carbon dioxide gas, which creates the bubbling or “puking” effect in the pumpkin. Children learn about the concept of chemical reactions, the role of acids and bases, and the products formed during this process. Additionally, this activity fosters creativity and problem-solving skills as children design and make their own facial structures, incorporating elements of engineering and art. It also encourages critical thinking as they predict and observe the behavior of the puking pumpkin, promoting scientific inquiry. Overall, the Puking Pumpkin activity offers a fun and engaging way for kids to explore various STEAM concepts and develop essential skills.
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What We Need For This STEAM Activity
- A pumpkin (I used a small pumpkin.)
- Baking soda (1/2 of cup)
- Vinegar (1 cup – However, I used about 3 cups of vinegar all together to try “puking” about three times.)
- Dish soap (1/4 of cup – You can use fewer drops or a squirt of dish soap for less foam. A few drops or a squirt is fine.)
- Food coloring (green)
- Knife (for carving the pumpkin)
- Bowl (for putting the pumpkin seeds and pulp when you dig out the inside of the pumpkin)
- Anything you can use as a pumpkin stand
- Large container (to catch the spills from the pumpkin)
How to Do the STEAM Activity Puking Pumpkin Experiment
- Prepare the Pumpkin: Cut off the top of the pumpkin and scoop out the insides to create a hollow cavity.
- Draw and Carve the Face: Draw eyes, a nose, and a mouth, then carve out the mouth.
- Place The Pumpkin On the Stand.
- Insert Ingredients: Insert 1/2 cup of baking soda, a few drops of dish soap (or 1/4 if you want really foamy), and green food coloring, then mix.
- Puking Time: When you’re ready for the ‘puking’ effect, pour 1 cup of vinegar into the pumpkin’s top and watch as it releases fizzing liquid. If the ‘puking’ stops, you can add more vinegar to make the pumpkin ‘puke’ again.
- Observe and Explore: Encourage kids to observe and discuss what they see and hypothesize about why the puking occurs.
* Always supervise kids during this activity, and be cautious with any sharp tools used to carve the pumpkin.
*Always prioritize safety. Baking soda and vinegar are generally safe, but ensure students wear safety goggles and avoid contact with eyes.
Variations & Challenges of This STEAM Activity
- Pumpkin Size and Type: You can use different sizes and types of pumpkins, such as small sugar pumpkins, large carving pumpkins, or even other fruits or vegetables like watermelons, to create your puking creature. Each type will yield a different puking experience.
- Pumpkin Face Design: Encourage students to get creative with the design of their puking pumpkin. They can carve intricate details, paint the pumpkin, or add features like a hat or decorations to make it more visually appealing.
- Puking Liquid Ingredients: Experiment with different proportions of baking soda and vinegar to control the intensity and duration of the puking.
- Incorporate Art: Emphasize the “A” in STEAM by encouraging students to create art around their pumpkin, such as drawing or painting the surrounding pumpkin, or documenting the puking through photography or video.
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