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Tropical Island Party

On vacation let your hair down. What better place for a party than a tropical island paradise? But who would have thought that rough science could help make you the perfect host?

The Challenges!

Make Paper

You need to let people know when and where to come to the party. But first you'll need some paper to write your invitations.

You'll need:

  • plain office paper, newspaper, magazines, egg cartons, toilet paper, paper bags, old cards, nonwaxed boxes pre-soaked in warm water, tissue paper, napkins, or construction paper (any of these types of paper or a mixture)
  • sponge
  • screening from a window or door
  • an old picture frame or other wooden frame
  • plastic tub large enough to accommodate the wooden frame
  • blender or food processor
  • white felt or flannel fabric
  • staples or tacks
  • liquid starch
  • 2 cookie sheets

What you do:
Rip the paper into small pieces and place it in a blender until half full. Fill the blender up with warm water. Blend slowly until there is no trace of paper and the pulp is smooth. Staple the screen to the frame as tightly as possible to make a deckle. Fill half the basin with water and add 3 blenders-full of pulp. (For thicker paper, add more pulp.) Stir well and add 2 teaspoons of liquid starch. Submerge the deckle in the pulp and gently shake it until you have an even covering on top of the screen. Lift the deckle above the water level and let it drain off. (If the new paper on top of the screen is too thick, take some pulp out of the tub. If the paper is thin, add more pulp and re-stir.) When the deckle stops dripping completely, carefully place one edge along an edge of fabric and gently ease the paper out of the deckle on top of the fabric. Press out as much water as possible with the sponge. Make sure the paper has come apart completely from the deckle. Stack the fabric and paper pieces on a cookie sheet. Put a piece of fabric on top of the top sheet of paper and cover the pile with another cookie sheet. Press well to remove any remaining water. Gently separate the sheets of paper and hang them in the sun, or lay them on sheets of newspaper, until they are dry.

What's going on?
Paper is made from plant fibers — old rags, trees. By chopping up the paper, you are recycling the fibers in the old paper to make new paper. The liquid starch helps to prevent inks from soaking into the paper fibers.

For more information on making paper, see http://www.pioneerthinking.com.

For more information, see Rough Science episode 1: "Mapping it Out"

Make Botanical Noisemakers

You don't want anyone to miss the fun! Let everyone know where the party is with some rattles, shakers, and other noisemakers.

You'll need:

  • dried beans, peas, rice, nuts in shells, or other dry seeds
  • 2 aluminum pie plates
  • empty film canisters and lids
  • empty plastic bottles and lids
  • craft sticks
  • tape
  • scissors

What you do:
Place a handful of beans, peas, nuts, or seeds between two pie plates and then tape the plates together around the edges. Use a pair of scissors to make small slits in the bottom of the canisters, and insert craft sticks through the holes. Put different amounts of rice inside the film canisters and put on the lids. Put other plant materials inside the plastic bottles. Shake them to different rhythms.

What's going on?
Sounds come from vibrations. Shaking the noisemakers causes the beans, rice, or other plant materials to hit against the pie plates and vibrate, thus creating sound.

Activity adapted from Jill Frankel Hauser and Loreta Trezzo Brare. Kid's Crazy Concoctions. Williamson Publishing, 1998.

For more information, see Rough Science episode 6: "The Science of Celebration"

Make Ice Cream

What's a tropical party without ice cream? Take the temperature down a degree or two by making your own chocolate ice cream.

You'll need:

  • cream
  • milk
  • ice cubes
  • dish towel
  • cocoa powder
  • tablespoon
  • salt
  • glass
  • large bowl

What you do:
In the glass, mix one spoon of cocoa powder, two spoonfuls of milk, and one spoonful of cream. Put some ice in the bowl and cover it with lots of salt. Put the glass on top of the ice and pack ice around the glass. Cover all the ice with salt. Place the dish towel over the bowl and leave the ice cream mixture to set for an hour. Voilá — delicious chocolate ice cream!

What's going on?
The salt lowers the freezing temperature of the ice. This actually makes the ice colder. The ice absorbs heat from the ice cream mixture. The ice cream gets colder and colder until it eventually freezes.

How about using flavors other than chocolate? Lemon, vanilla, orange, or raspberry?

For more information, see Rough Science episode 10: "Sustenance and Sayonara"

Make Lemon or Orange Soda

Throwing a party is thirsty work! You'll need something to quench your thirst and give you the energy to keep dancing all night. Make a refreshing soda from a few simple ingredients.

You'll need:

  • a lemon or orange
  • a glass
  • water
  • sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

What you do:
Squeeze a lemon or orange and put the juice in the glass. Add an equal volume of water and some sugar till your drink tastes sweet enough. Stir in the baking soda and stand back as your drink fizzes.

What's going on?
Baking soda is a chemical compound called a carbonate. Lemon and orange juices contain acids. When a carbonate and an acid are mixed, they produce a salt. Baking soda is a buffer. In the presence of an acid, carbon dioxide gas is released, producing the bubbles in your drink. A similar reaction, producing carbon dioxide, is used in certain fire extinguishers.

For more information, see Rough Science episode 10: "Sustenance and Sayonara"

Suggestions for other activities:

  • To make sounds like a horn, recorder, drum, and whistle, make musical instruments from natural materials (willow sticks, vines, tree branches, shells, blades of grass).
  • To have neat jewelry to wear, make bracelets and rings from plants.