Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mom the Research Coordinator

It was suggested that I do a series on the roles of the moms. We've seen all the cliche wall papers on Facebook about what a is, apart from just being the person who has given birth to the child.

And we also know this from the fact that our kids begin most sentences with "Mommy, can you __________ (insert action).

So, this shall be my next series.

Last week, it occurred to me that I was Evan's research coordinator. Evan loves science experiments (ex-P-riments, in his words). The problem is that he's still a little bit young to figure out the stuff needed to set up the experiments. Usually, he pulls out his Big Book of Science Experiments and randomly points to something that has sparked off his interest. We've done the Coke-Mentos experiments, water experiments, shaving foam ones as well and others that I cannot remember. His idea of my spending time with him is to do experiments with him. And we did just that, this time with inspiration from Gingerbread Mum's Milk Magic.

It had to be full fat milk. The fat globules in the milk were key to the experiment. What we did was to add food colouring into it first. The food colouring stays as a darkened dot in the milk, though the colour does slowly bleed out a little and swirls around prettily. It reminded me of the chromatography we used to do in the chem lab. That, in itself got lots of "WOW!" and "AWESOME!" (I hate it when everything is "AWESOME!" but that is another post altogether) but introduce a drop of soap detergent by way of a q-tip and colour explosions begin to occur.

So apparently detergent weakens the bonds between the fat and the proteins in the milk and the fat and soap apparently do some sort of fat bumping gymnastics which causes the colours to bump around, much to the amazement of the twins. Muffin just liked swirling the colours around but Evan and Jordan wanted to know what caused it and they kept trying to figure it out for themselves, trying it in water instead of milk, more soap, less soap, changing it to new milk claiming their swamp coloured milk had too much soap in it.

When we explained it to Evan, he could rattle it off. How much of it he understood of it, I really don't know but I do love that he's such a science geek and finding new experiments for him to do. We're going to try the erupting volcano one next but he doesn't know it yet.


  1. Detergent contains chemicals (I forgot what) that have 2 ends: 1 end is attracted to oil, the other to water. So what happens in the milk is that the detergent forms a "bubble" around the fat (oil), thus separating it from the water-based part of the milk. And since the colouring is in the fat, so you have the swirly colours in the milk, as the detergent seek out more fat to bond around.

    The same "trick" should work with lime juice. Recall that at seafood restaurants, there are dishes of water with lime for you to clean your hands after eating.

    If you want to show them a "magic trick", tell them that you can make oil not float on water. In a glass beaker, pour some water, then add a few drops of oil. Then add some detergent (but not too much otherwise it becomes too foamy to see anything), then stir the contents. If it works, the detergent-encased oil will be suspended *in* the water.