Happy Birthday, Thunder Lizard! Science Sleepover!!

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For most of this last year, the Thunder Lizard has been pretty science and chemistry obsessed. This app called Toca Labs is what started it all. It let him explore the Elements in a playful way and get to know them as “characters” with unique sounds, shapes and abstract personalities. I had no idea what we were getting into when I downloaded it on a whim last fall.

Next, we watched in amazement as, without any coaching from us or his teacher, no flash cards or incentives. he memorized the entire Periodic Table, the atomic numbers and symbols. He quickly memorized Tom Lehrer’s piano sing-along. After getting a couple of books for his birthday back in March (NOTE: these photos are are a few months old… things have been, um, busy.) he now knows which elements are radioactive and which are noble gasses and…

…needless to say, a Science-themed Sleepover  was in order this year.


The Lizard invited three school friends to stay over on a Friday night. Earlier that week we sent cupcakes to school: Key Lime cupcakes with Raspberry / Pink Lemonade swirled icing. An awesome friend who works in the medical industry had been sweet enough to get us a big box of test tubes, lab coats, safety goggles and other handy Science Lab accoutrements.

I sent the frosted cupcakes undecorated, along with tiny test tubes full of sprinkles & decorative sugars to school with him on the day of his birthday. You guys, I’m not even going to lie. This was one of those, “It’s the night before, I’m out of time, so this will have to work” plans. Apparently, it was a huge hit! We happened to have parent-teacher conferences that week and his teacher said she had never seen kids so excited about birthday cupcakes before.



We ordered pizza, I made pasta salad and I had plenty of fruits & veggies, pretzels and hummus. The eight year olds determined they were much more interested in the more sugary offerings. All were well fed.



These candles each burn with different colored flames because different elements have different color flames when they are tested with a “Flame Test” — for instance, copper burns a sort of greenish turquoise. (I remember learning this in high school… but at a bonfire, not in science class!)





What’s cake without ice cream? For our next experiment, we mixed cream and sugar in air-tight plastic bags and then put the bags into a Mason jar, surrounded by ice cubes and some rock salt.


We set the timer for five minutes, wrapped the already cold jars in towels and shook shook shook shook shook!! The kids all seemed pretty sure whatever this turned out to be was going to taste good, but I’m not sure any of them were convinced that they were making ice cream!


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We also made color changing lemonade, by boiling red cabbage in water to extract the purple dye. When it’s mixed with the acidic lemonade, we get a chemical reaction: color-changing lemonade! Watch the video below and see it change before YOUR eyes!


We ate Pizza and then popped popcorn and watched Flubber on VHS before bed.  In the morning, we had pancakes, bacon and eggs for breakfast and watched some cartoons before going outside to do one final experiment:

Yes, that is snow. Yes, this was April 03. #puremichigan


Everyone has seen the phenomenon that is Diet Coke and Mentos but if you’ve never done it in person, before, it really is pretty cool to watch. I was standing up on our second story porch when I took these photos — that’s how high the stuff sprays into the air!!


The kids were great. Everyone got along and for the most part, all wanted to do the same things at more or less the same time. I sent each of them home with a little goodie bag, including one of my mini-journals with a microscope on it, and their very own safety goggles. And lots more sugar.


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