Pottermore & Some Wizard Science Experiments

Pottermore JK Rowling has just announced a new ‘chapter’ in the world of Harry PotterPottermore is a new interactive site that will encourage children to take part in their own story telling of the famous stories about Harry, his friends and their adventures at Hogwarts. 

JK Rowling explains on  www.pottermore.com that ‘Pottermore is a free website that builds an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books.’

Here at 3B Scientific, we love the thought of magical science labs like the ones in Harry Potter’s school of witchcraft and wizardry.  So, we thought we’d share some of our special potions for you to create with your children this summer in your own home! 

Let us know if you have a favorite magic science experiment and we’ll feature it here.

So let’s get started:

Any young magician knows you’ve gotta have a smoking, bubbling cauldron.  Try out this for a great effect: Dryice2

  1. First you’ll need to find a tall cylinder or beaker with a narrow opening, so that children can’t put their hands inside.
  2. Next, purchase some Dry Ice from your local grocery store. (Wal-mart stock dry ice)
  3. Pour hot water and a few drops of your favorite food coloring into your tall cylinder/beaker.  About half way up should be plenty.
  4. Finally, using tongs drop a piece of dry ice (don’t pick it up with your bare hands) into the hot water in the beaker.
  5. Watch your bubbling, smoking potion come to life!

Now, for a variation on this experiment and even more fun

Add some liquid soap to your smoking concoction and watch what happens!  Lots and lots of bubbles should start to spill out.  The bubbles are safe for kids to touch and contain harmless carbon dioxide.

Adult supervision is required again but these next effects look really cool: 

You’ll need some Methanol (which you can get from an autopart store),
Epsom Salt (also known as magnesium sulfate),
Some ‘No Salt’ (which contains Potassium Choloride/Bitartrate)
and finally some Borax (Boric acid) that you can get at a grocery store.

  • Pour some methanol into a small flameproof dish or bowl and then add some Epsom Salt.  When you ignite the mixture you’ll notice the flames burn really brightly.
  • Now do the same thing but instead of Epsom Salt combine a small amount of the ‘No Salt’ with the methanol and light with a long match or safety lighter.  This time the flames burn bright blue.
  • Repeat the experiment one more time with the Borax and methanol and you’ll get eerie green flames.

Flames

All kids like hands-on science and this next experiment is a great explanation of what a non-Newtonian* fluid is.

Magical Green Goo: or non-Newtonian* solution

You’ll need a box of cornstarch,
some water
some green food coloring
and a large mixing bowl. 

Empty the box of corn starch into the mixing bowl and add about a cup and a half of the water.  Add a couple of drops of the green food coloring and stir the mixture together.  Using your hands, you can continue to mix the water and cornstarch together to form a green gloopy mess.

Try pouring this out onto a baking sheet and watch what happens.  

First, it acts like a thick liquid as you pour it onto the baking sheet.  When it’s settled, and you press your hand onto it, it feels similar to wet sand.  

Now, try to scrape up some of the wet sand-like corn starch mixture and when you have a good handful quickly roll it into a ball.  Now hold your palm out with the ball of cornstarch mixture on it and watch what happens… amazingly the solid ball turns back into a liquid and drips off your hand.  Magic!!

Please tell us your stories of trying out these experiments and send us your photos of your results.  Email them to mark.dresser@a3bs.com with a brief description of what you did and we'll feature them here and on our Facebook page

* SCIENCE FACTnon-Newtonian fluid is a fluid that doesn’t respond the way a liquid should.  According to Sir Isaac Newton, ‘normal’ liquids have a constant viscosity (flow).  Usually, this flow behavior can only be altered by temperature or pressure i.e when it freezes it turns into a solid and when it boils it turns into a gas.  ‘Normal fluids’ also fully fill the shape of the container that they are poured into.  Non-Newtonian fluids don’t act this way – instead they change their flow behavior, or viscosity, under stress.  Slap, hit, shake or jump on them and for a short while the stress of the impact causes this type of liquid to become solid.  Once you stop applying the ‘stress’ the fluid returns to it’s natural liquid state.  Not all non-Newtonian fluids react the same way but this experiment is a great example of the type we’re talking about here.

 

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1 Comment

  • Maybe it’s because this page is 3 years old, or maybe it’s because you live in a different region of the U.S. but I went to Wal-Mart today and they don’t sell dry ice. In fact, I called all sorts of grocery and retail stores in the area and every single one said I need to get it from an actual ice dealer.
    And when I went to the auto parts store for the methanol, the employee asked me if it needed to be pure methanol or if I just needed a product that *contains* methanol. I said I assumed it needed to be pure. He told me that I can’t get that at an auto parts store. *sigh*
    So…I know I can get dry ice if I drive 30-45 minutes to the nearest dealer, but I have no idea where to get methanol. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    Mary Reply

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