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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Darkness Can Be Fun!

One of my most favorite memories growing up was building forts with my best friend Katie. We would build elaborate forts using anything and everything we could find in each other’s homes. Both Katie and I were afraid of the dark when we were younger so it was interesting that we loved building these places that were all about the dark. The darker the better, the more private the better and certainly NO GROWN-UPS ALLOWED! Being a mom to two girls now, I was not surprised when I heard both my kids say they do not like the dark. When I asked them why, Sophia (age 6) said, “I feel like I’m in a cave and can’t get out and sometimes I worry the door is locked and we can’t get out.” Her younger sister, Sydney (age 5), replied with “It feels like there’s gonna be a monster in my room.”
I decided the best way to show them that darkness can be fun was to do an experiment that we saw on Sid the Science Kid. Sophia is in 1st grade and takes a science class after school that she absolutely loves so I wasn’t surprised that she wanted to do it. Sydney was equally as excited so it was nice to see her so into it. The experiment was entitled “Cave of Darkness” (ooohs and ahhs from my girls as I told them the title!). They were beyond excited.
We started out by figuring out what materials we could use to make a fort that was dark enough not to let light in. We searched our house. The girls decided on four chairs from our dining room table. We positioned them in a square with the seat part facing out.
I then asked the girls what we could use to make the fort dark. Sophia said blankets and Sydney said big towels. Both great ideas. It was nice to see the girls working together since usually it ends up in some type of argument! We decided on blankets since they were bigger. We gathered as many as we could find and started building. Sophia volunteered to be the “cave reporter” and she went inside, with pretend microphone in hand. We quickly figured out that the blankets were going to let too much light in because they were too thin. It didn’t seem to matter that we layered them either, it was still too light.
So we had to come up with something else. Sophia had the idea to use a comforter because they are much thicker and bigger. I dragged out an old King-size comforter and that did the trick! The girls were elated. With Sophia inside the cave, she directed Sydney and me where to put the remaining blankets to make the fort pitch dark.
Once we were all three inside the cave, we talked about what we could see and couldn’t see. We couldn’t see our dog Daisy, who wanted desperately to come in. But we could see the outlines of our hands once our eyes adjusted. The girls seemed perfectly content and said they weren’t scared at all.
We decided to do some experimenting with different toys and shapes. Sophia brought some miscellaneous small items in with her. I asked her what she could see. She said the lighter color items were easier to see than the darker ones. I asked her if her clothes felt different in the dark and she replied no. And the carpet? No, felt the same. Sophia said, “Mom, things are the same whether it’s light or dark!” Mission accomplished. We had so much fun in our cave of darkness, we decided to have popcorn and watch a movie on our portable DVD player!
It was so great to see my girls excited about doing this science experiment. I think it’s really important for girls to be well rounded and interested in all kinds of things and I really enjoyed helping them see how fun science can be!

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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