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On The Web : Science & Crafting

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Long before I ever imagined that I would be a crafter for The Martha Stewart Show, I dreamed of one day becoming a scientist. From a young age I drew inspiration from the likes of Mr. Wizard's World and Bill Nye the Science Guy, and in college I was fascinated by the tireless work and unbridled genius of scientists like Niels Bohr and Marie Curie.

While I enjoyed all of the sciences, chemistry was a particularly favorite subject of mine, mainly because it always involved time in the lab—time to work with fancy equipment, specialized scientific techniques, and even dangerous chemicals to create new and fabulous compounds. The lab combined my love of working with my hands with my curiosity about the natural world—a marriage of the scientist I wanted to be and the crafter that I would become.

While there is quite a bit of variety in the crafting work we do at TV, these days I find myself particularly inspired by crafts that integrate science not only to create, but to teach as well. Below are a few of my recent favorites that I encourage you to take a good look at. Then grab the kids and give one of them a try! You'll be amazed at what you can make and learn at the same time!

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Using just duct tape, wooden skewers, and a whole lot of gummy bears, the folks over at the UK's Stem Centre created a fabulously crafty "wave machine" to investigate the physics of basic waves. (Courtesy of Craftzine.com)

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This recipe for sidewalk chalk uses plaster of Paris (gypsum plaster or calcium sulphate hemihydrate) as its base. When mixed with water, the plaster of Paris releases heat in an exothermic reaction that helps the plaster to set up quickly.

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This 7-layer column (courtesy of Steve Spangler Science—one of my favorite inspirational science learning sites) uses readily available household liquids to explore the concept of density. The resulting column is quite beautiful to behold!

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A personal favorite of mine, these borax crystal snowflakes explore the science of growing crystals from a saturated solution of borax (a common laundry additive) while creating gorgeous ornaments you can hang anywhere in your home. (Ready-made kits to make your own snowflakes are available from professorfiggy.com.)

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This amazing project (courtesy of instructables.com) teaches you how to make glow-in-the-dark-candy using vitamin B2 (or Riboflavin) as the glowing agent that reacts with UV light.

mbd105690_0510_watercolor7_lThis recipe for homemade watercolors employs the science of acids (vinegar) and bases (baking soda) to create the ever popular release of carbon dioxide that makes this project a lot of fizzy fun!

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And last but not least, tune into The Martha Stewart Show on Wednesday, April 13, at 10 am to see how you can create your very own gorgeous crystal egg geode (ready-made kits to make your own are also available at professorfiggy.com) using just an eggshell and alum. It's not a real geode, but it looks just as beautiful, costs a lot less, and takes only two days (versus millions of years) to make!

Comments (6)

  • My 11 year old son's science fair project was making dyes out of fruit & vegetables. He dyed DMC white embroidery floss and I used some of it in cross stitch to add to his display board. Judging is tonight so wish him luck!

  • how inspirational: science + art. the best recipe for learning.

  • [...] Martha’s team gets in on the science crafting fun at The Crafts Dept [...]

  • Love these kinds of projects - I have 3 boys and anything that can be used to make a mess, gets sticky or slimy, changes shape or color, were always a big hit... now my oldest is planning to major in Chemistry in college.

    When they were little, one of their favorite projects was to make homemade silly putty using Elmer's glue, borax and food coloring (just be warned - it does not come out of carpets!)

  • [...] Science & Crafting – The Crafts Dept. [...]

  • Oooh, these are great! I'm going to have to try some of these at the next science party I throw! I've got one to share with you, too -- my friend Jake, a science teacher, and I did a video on learning about surface tension with pepper and dish soap...

    http://sophworldblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/science-with-jake-pepper-tricks-video.html

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