White Sox Weather Day: More do it at home!

We’ve been entertaining science fans at White Sox Weather Day for the past 4 years! When they asked me to do it in 2014, I was so excited! Now it’s become an annual tradition. We’ve done on-field demos, Jumbo-Tron spots, and concourse entertaining for kids. We do a combination of visual experiments and hands-on experiments to get kids involved!

Here’s an outline of what we do- that you can do- at home!

The concourse: These are the activities that we do under the concourse at Guaranteed Rate Stadium. 

We started with a bunch of demos and then whittled them down to what we thought were the best and most interesting so that kids could come, try something, and go on to another one. Here are the experiments that have stood the test of time and how you can do them at home:

Tornado Tubes

  1. Product info:  http://amzn.to/2pwTpyA or http://amzn.to/2qoIZoK
  2. Directions: These are a great, cheap toy, to talk about tornadoes and the efficient shape of a funnel cloud… buy a couple and reuse the 2-Liter bottles from the Mentos experiment below and you’ve got a tornado.

Cloud in a Bottle

Product Info: Just a simple bike pump will do, but here’s one that has simple pressure gauge that would be cool to read! http://amzn.to/2q1PHQx

What you’ll need: 

  1. Rubber stopper w/hole in it- to fit water bottle
  2. 1 L Water bottle (labels removed)

Directions: This is so cool and so easy! Put about a capful of alcohol in the water bottle, swirl it around to coat the inside of the bottle. Insert the stopper. Fit the bike pump nozzle over the stopper (so that when you pump air into the bottle you are creating a sealed system). Pump three full pumps (you will feel the bottle get tighter). After three, pull the stopper out and you get an instant cloud! It’s so cool!

Why does it work? You are putting a lot of pressure on the alcohol when you pump air into the bottle. When you pull out the stopper you release all that pressure and the alcohol evaporates instantly- creating the appearance of a cloud!

  • Parachutes- these are a great way to demonstrate how air and drag work together to save lives! 

Product info: This is my favorite parachute and this is a 6-pack. These would come in handy for a birthday party or playdate- many kids can use them at a time. Surprisingly- they last a long time too! http://amzn.to/2q0IQGF

Directions: Simple and easy- kids have fun throwing these up into the air and talking about air and drag and how these things can actually save lives! Turn it into a STEM activity by having kids make a better parachute, figure out the best method to throw it into the air, measure how long it takes to get to the ground from different throwing styles, or figure out from what heights does the thrower get the best results

Mini-Air Blaster

Product info: These are good cheap fun. I have this one from Amazon and it also has lasted over three years with many uses.  http://amzn.to/2q0Fjs9

Directions: This is a fun toy to just have around the house. If someone is being too wild and crazy- blast them with a little air! If you want to talk about science, make it about air vortexes. Your kids will enjoy the blasting and feel smarter explaining air vortexes.

Stomp Rockets 

Product info: These stomp rockets are a common backyard toy- but they are a little more useful with adult supervision. These are inexpensive and last a long time too! http://amzn.to/2q1zPxs

Directions: I use these in my Rockets class too. They are a great way to talk about how something as simple as air can power a rocket into the air! Of course the rockets that get into space use more than just air- but on a simple level- they are very similar. If I have a group of kids who want to stomp the rocket, I make them stand in a line and have them stomp in order- retrieving their own rocket. I know a lot of people have these in their backyard toy box. Bust them out and talk a little about science and then have some fun!

  1. When I want these to stay in good shape, I keep a separate set for when I want to do rockets with the kids- otherwise all the rockets end up in the trees and all the tails get broken. This is life with kids!
  2. Also- make sure to keep your head away from the base- otherwise you will get a rocket in the eye. It hurts!