Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Science in the kitchen

When I return from a business trip I always find interesting things left in my kitchen. Like unclaimed tupperware containers from other kids lunches. My oldest daughter sometimes takes a break from high school to come home for lunch with her friends. Their lunch boxes are left on the counter while my refrigerator is emptied. Sometimes, depending on the length of the trip these items have turned into living organisms. She plans to major in biology and environmental I hear the "its all in the name of science" comment, a lot. Fortunately, most of my trips are short term, either a day trip or a single overnight. Even more fortuante, my daughter knows the way to her mother's heart, turns into Ms. Clean and scrambles to clean up before I get home.

Recently, I returned from a longer, week long trip. (real reason for no postings lately, not because I am so sad to have to remove the baseball references.)

Sitting on the counter was a jar of blue liquid. Hanging in the liquid was a string attached to a pencil, weighted down with a nut. What is this?

My teenage son's science class this week was about the three phases of matter: solids, liquids and gases. That, combinded with watching an old episode of Bill Nye prompted him to try to make rock candy. (these are the kind of experiments you want a teenage boy thinking about!!!) He remembered the procedure pretty well...just forgetting to cover with plastic wrap sooner and wait longer. We'll see what happens. But, by the looks of his jar we may need to redo. Never a dull moment in the Nord Kitchen.


One cup of water.
Two cups of sugar.
A wooden spoon for stirring.
A clean glass jar, like an old jelly or peanut butter jar.
Some string.
A pair of scissors.
A pencil.
Some plastic wrap.


1. Boil the cup of water.
2. Once it's boiling, add two cups of sugar.
3. Stir with the wooden spoon a bit and continue to boil.
4. While that's happening, cut a piece of string and tie it to
the middle of the pencil. Test the length by laying the pencil over
the mouth of the jar -- the end of the string should not touch
the bottom of the jar.
5. Once the sugar is dissolved in the water, pour
the liquid into the glass jar.
6. Lay the pencil over the mouth of the jar so the string is dangling in
the liquid.
7. Wait for the steam to stop rising out of the jar. When it stops, cover
the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap.
8. Put the jar in a safe place where it won't be disturbed.
9. In a few days (could take up to a week), pull the string out of the jar.

You started with a liquid, saw some steam, and, if you followed the experiment, you've ended up with a solid.

1 comment:

T.W. Barritt said...

It's been years since I've tasted rock candy!