Skip to main content
East County Wednesday, Apr. 22, 2020 2 months ago

Scientific method for fun in Lakewood Ranch

East County science teachers offer do-at-home experiments to keep us busy.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Are you looking for something to do with your family that's fun, easy and educational? Science teachers from the Lakewood Ranch area have given the East County Observer experiments students, or you, can do at home. 

Homemade ice cream

Kelly Richards, a science teacher at Robert E. Willis Elementary School, enlisted her 7-year-old son Blake and 4-year-old daughter Hailey to help her make homemade ice cream. While making a delicious treat, families will learn about the endothermic process. 

In the case of the ice cream, Richards said the endothermic process is when salt is added to the ice, it forces the ice to melt. But before the ice can melt, it borrows heat from objects surrounding it. 

"Since the ingredients are not as cold as the ice, it borrowed heat from the ingredients, making them colder," she said. "When they get cold, they freeze into ice cream."


  • 4 ounces of milk
  • 4 ounces of cream (Richards used Danimals yogurt as a substitute)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla or another flavor (If using yogurt, you don't need to add this as the yogurt has flavor.)
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons of sugar
  • Lots of ice
  • 1/2 cup of rock salt or regular salt
  • Quart size freezer bag
  • Gallon size freezer bag
  • Sprinkles or desired toppings


  1. Put the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar in the small bag and zip securely
  2. Put about a cup of ice into the large bag and cover the ice with a small handful of salt. Keep adding layers of ice and salt until the large bag is three-fourths full.
  3. Put the small bag into the large bag. Zip the large bag securely, and shake the bag back and forth vigorously for at least five minutes. Check the small bag every so often to see if it needs more shaking time.
  4. When shaking is complete, take the small bag out, and the ice cream should be ready.
  5. Add sprinkles or other toppings.
  6. Enjoy!

Homemade lava lamp

Dawn Reilly, a science teacher at Mona Jain Middle School, conducts a weekly experiment for her students during online learning and has shared how to make a homemade lava lamp. 

This experiment will teach families about density.


  • Vegetable oil or mineral oil
  • Food coloring
  • Water
  • Alka-Seltzer tablets or effervescent tablets
  • Empty bottle or clear jar


  1. Fill the empty bottle three-quarters with vegetable oil.
  2. Add about one-fourth water to the bottle.
  3. Pick a color, and add a few drops into the bottle.
  4. Wait until food coloring settles at the bottom.
  5. Take an Alka-Seltzer tablets and drop it into the bottle.
  6. Watch the bubble flow.


Separating colors

Many substances have different colored pigments that reflect a different color of light. Amanda Faller, an environmental science and chemistry teacher at Braden River High School, shared an experiment on how to separate pigments in ink and dye using chromatography.

Using materials that can be found at home, families can see what inks have only one color while others contain mixtures.


  • Coffee filter
  • Scissors
  • Shallow dish or bowl
  • Tap water
  • Clothespins or paper clips
  • String or cord
  • Markers or pens
  • Something to suspend the paper between such as syrup bottles


  1. Cut the coffee filter into one inch wide strips that are about seven inches long.
  2. Put about an inch of tap water in a shallow dish or bowl.
  3. Put the objects you've chosen to suspend the paper (syrup bottles) on either side of the dish.
  4. Cut a piece of string to suspend your paper on. It should be about five inches to 20 inches depending on the size of the bowl.
  5. Wrap string around top of each of the objects used to suspend the paper to create a "clothes line" to hang the paper on.
  6. Using the markers or pens, place on dot of the ink about an inch above a strip of coffee filter. 
  7. Place a different colored dot on each strip. Each strip should only get one dot of ink.
  8. Using a clothespin or paper clip, hang each strip with the dot side down just touching the water level in the dish. Do not let the dot go into the water completely.
  9. Allow the papers to touch the water and hang for about 20 to 30 minutes or longer.
  10. Watch as the ink separates into colors and moves up the paper.


Modeling convection currents 

Adult supervision is required for this experiment. 

Get an inside look on what's happening in the Earth's mantle with an experiment to model convection currents. Faller's modeling convection currents lab demonstrates the heat transfer that takes place as a result of currents. 

Convection in the Earth's mantle is the result of the heating and cooling of rock material, changes in the rock's density and the force of gravity.


  • Large clear tub
  • Ice cube dyed blue using food coloring
  • Small saucepan
  • Stove top
  • Room temperature water
  • Boiling water dyed red using food coloring


  1. Fill an ice cube tray with tap water and add two drops of blue food coloring to each well. Freeze for three to four hours until frozen.
  2. Fill the clear tub with cold tap water about three-fourths full.
  3. Fill the saucepan with one cup of hot tap water.
  4. Place the saucepan with water onto the stove and turn it on medium-high setting. Heat until it comes to a slow boil.
  5. Get the frozen blue ice cube from the freezer and place one in the water on one side of the clear tub.
  6. Record observations of the blue cube for three minutes.
  7. Add three drops of red food coloring to the saucepan of boiling water.
  8. Carefully use a hotpad to remove the saucepan from the stove.
  9. Pour the red boiling water into the tub on the opposite side of the blue ice cube.
  10. Record observations for three minutes.
  11. You should see a convection current or mixing of the red and blue dyed water.


Related Stories