Birthday on ice

Dry ice… that is…

When Caleb was asked what he wanted to do for his Birthday, he shouted out, “A science party!”  Hmmm… this might not go over too well with his peers when he is a teen, but for now, it’s probably ok.  And it was probably an idea that we planted in his brain around the time of his last birthday when we saw that there was a “scientist” that you can hire like a magician or a clown to come to your birthday parties. 

So, we did some research into finding a scientist for hire, and found that hiring someone to come entertain at your party was pretty expensive.  “Hey, I can do this… “ I thought to myself, being budget-minded as we are.  I’m a scientist… (not really, but I can probably entertain kids for about an hour with pseudo-science)…. So, I started looking up some “science experiments” that we could do at home. 

Ends up that Dry Ice had the biggest “oooh-ahhh” factor for the price and effort.  Just watching dry ice melt is cool in itself.  And I didn’t realize how accessible dry ice was until I hopped into our local Albertson’s and asked at the fish counter if I could buy some dry ice.  “Sure,” they said, then handed me a 10 lb bag of dry ice, surrounded by a cloud of carbon dioxide.  Cool….

So, we set up a table outside, I brought my list of experiments, and we were off.

As with anything, presentation is key.  Once I convinced all the kids how dangerous dry ice was (and it can do some damage), they were intrigued.  Also, I thought that a lab coat would give me some scientist street cred, so Tenille ordered a monogrammed lab coat for me.  I wish there was something that easy for my line of work as a software engineer like a hat or colorful socks… I think it’s facial hair and/or baldness, neither of which I’ll ever be endowed with… Fortunately, to become a scientist, all you need is a white lab coat…..

Ok everyone, safety goggles on!

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Everyone loves bubbles.  Even more cool, when you can fill the bubbles with opaque gas.

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Always good to make edible (or drinkable as the case may be) experiments.  We made some apple cider, and some dry ice ice cream.

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To be perfectly honest, the dry ice ice cream is more for the experience of making it than really for its wonderful taste.  Mostly because it doesn’t have a wonderful taste, and if you didn’t make it yourself, you’d likely throw it away with the old soda.  But, there’s something about making food yourself that will have you taking a second helping of the worst-tasting concoction.  To me, it tasted like melted ice cream mixed in with 7-up and sprinkled with Pop rocks.  Serving this to guests would be mildly offensive.  But asking guests to make it, then eat it, is apparently ok.

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The original idea was to make lego cars powered by a jet of CO2 using 35mm film containers with a tiny hole pricked on the lid, but I found that the film containers were underpowered.  However, as I was testing this out in the morning, I found that they start squirting out water when you turn them upside down.  So for the final experiment, we made some CO2 powered squirt guns out of 35mm film containers.

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Then, the climax of it all…… The Volcano Cake.  Tenille really outdid herself this time.  While we were singing the birthday song, the dry ice turned from smoke-effect to soap bubbles.  Not what we expected, but it was still pretty cool.  The volcano cake will be hard to top.  Some days, she must wake up thinking, “Wow… what must it be like to be married to me….  It must be awesome.”  And it is… it’s awesome.  When Caleb was asked what his favorite part of the party was, he said, “The cake.”  When Andrew was asked what his favorite part of the day was, he thoughtfully answered, “Eat… Cake….”  It made an impression.

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Thank you to everyone who came to make a happy day for Caleb.

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