Saturday, December 1, 2018

Dinovember Reflection


Dinovember

All good things must come to an end, and Dinovember has now come to a close.

First, I have to say this was so much fun and I am so glad I finally had the chance to do it, and I hope I get to do it again, bigger and better! But I also learned some lessons along the way, and there are some things I would do differently.

My interpretation of Dinovember had 5 parts:
    Dinovember
  1. "What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night" - I staged photos of our toy dinosaurs getting into mischief and had them posted on social media as well as in the department (averaged 3/week, photos further below).
  2. Dinosaur Recovery- I randomly hid a couple of the dinosaurs in the department each week after putting up a wanted poster, and the kids that found them and helped us "recapture" them won a small prize. I printed "Captured" across the mug shots of each dino as they were found.
  3. Passive Programming - bulletin board, dino books on display, coloring sheets, activity sheets, puzzle, and a weekly picture scavenger hunt (I did carnivores, herbivores, dinosaur jokes, and fossils found in our state).
  4. Family storytime
  5. STEAM program for elementary ages
Most of it went well, and I would do some form of them all again, but there were a couple of things that I would do differently or tweak just a little. Storytime was fine, people liked all the passive programming, and kids LOVED hunting for the escaped dinosaurs! They would check the wanted poster when they came in to see how many were still on the loose, study the photos for clues, and plot strategy. Others found them by pure luck. One girl said she'd been looking for almost an hour, gave up and went to get a book to check out, and when she pulled the book she wanted off the shelf, there was Stegs hiding behind it! 

I definitely over-planned for the STEAM program, and you can read more about the details of where I went wrong and what I would do differently in my previous post specifically about that programThe "What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night" is the part that was the most fun, but also where I learned some valuable lessons and would make the most changes.

(1) Start planning and staging pictures early! Don't wait until November, especially if you will not be able to post them to social media yourself, or if you want to hide the dinos for kids to recover, and especially if you are only part-time and only occasionally work before opening.

(2) Not everyone will be as into it as you. I thought other staff members would get into it and contribute ideas or stage photos, too, and though I did get a couple of suggestions, it ended up being mostly me, and I started running out of really good ideas. So another reason to start planning early! 

(3) It takes longer to stage the photos than you think it will!

(4) Be sure to carefully check the photos as you are taking them; the camera does not always see things the way you do. There were some pictures that did not turn out like I expected, but I had already cleaned everything up by the time I realized. If I had checked the pictures first, I could have easily made some quick adjustments and gotten better pictures.

(5) Keep it simple, and very obvious. I got too sophisticated in one of mine (glitter bombs). It was a very clever idea, but too dependent on people looking very closely and picking up on clues and getting the references to fully appreciate the joke, and few did. 

(6) People like to see the dinos being REALLY naughty! The fire alarm photo was by far the most popular photo of them all.

(7) With the exception of the fire alarm photo, engagement gradually decreased over the course of the month. I wonder if I should have started off with the more cutsey pictures and built up to the more outrageous to maintain interest? Post more frequently? Less frequently? Over a shorter period of time?

(8) Meet with your social media person in advance and make sure you're both on the same page and work out the scheduling and captioning together then. While our social media person was very much on board, there were some missteps with wording, scheduling, and missing posts that I think could have been reduced with more advanced planning and communication.
    Here is a collage of all the photos I staged (click to enlarge, or visit my Facebook page to see them individually). The dinosaurs escaped their storage bin, had their own storytime, wrote on dry erase tables & played board games, tried to pull the fire alarm, sent glitter bombs, got into the paint, had Thanksgiving dinner, terrorized the trains, played with visiting Flat Stanley, researched world domination, shared their favorite picture book for National Picture Book month, and finally the leader Rex turned himself in after all the others had been captured, and they all settled back in their storage bin for a nice long rest.

    Dinovember, dinosaur activities for kids

    As of this posting the "What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night" photos have garnered over 1,100 likes, reactions, comments, and shares across the library's social media (Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter). If you add other related posts, the grand total for all Dinovember social media is over 1,200 direct engagements! In addition, attendance at the two programs was 20% and 32% higher than usual, respectively. [For context, our system is in a larger metropolitan area with a diverse population of around 320,000.]

    I do have visions of doing it again and trying to get others on board and going system-wide the next time, with the dinosaurs sneaking aboard the courier's truck and traveling around causing mischief at all 6 locations, and each branch having a different dinosaur program. Some other activities/programs I'd like to do are:
    • Tea Rex Party
    • Dinosaur Stomp (combining storytime/dance party and a craft or STEAM activity)
    • Dinosaur Egg Hunt (did this at my son's 5th birthday party, and it was a blast)
    • Guest paleontologist to speak and share fossils (tween/teen or family program)
    • More passive programming to change out each week
    • More dino decorations in the building
    Have you done Dinovember? If so, what activities/programs did you do? Have any tips to share or experiences to share?? 

    Wednesday, November 28, 2018

    Paleontology - Dinovember STEAM Program


    Dinovember, dinosaur STEM STEAM program, dinosaur activities


    Well, I will start off by saying that I was overly ambitious in planning this Dinovember program, and it was more labor intensive than I expected it to be. We didn't get to do everything I planned, and it took both more prep and clean-up time than expected, BUT I had a great turnout and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. [As always, click on any image to see it full size.]

    Ages: 5-10

    Time: 1 hour (clean up time was an additional hour)

    Number: 18 participants (for more than 12 I highly recommend an additional staff member)

    Budget: Approximately $45 (but had leftover consumables, as well as reusable items)

    Activity #1 - Making a Plaster Cast 

    Since it is difficult to remove fossilized footprints without ruining them, and preferable to leave them where they are for others to see, paleontologists often make plaster casts of them instead.

    Materials:
    • some type of clay (I used salt dough)
    • plastic dinosaurs (9"-12" figures work best)
    • cooking spray
    • plaster of paris
    • salt*
    • water
    • flexible plastic strips (I used a laminating pouch) stapled to make circles about 2-3" in diameter
    • measuring cups & spoons
    • craft sticks that have previously been dipped in plaster and cured*
    • flat trays or waxed cardboard
    • small disposable cup
    • small disposable plates
      Plaster cast of dinosaur footprints
    1. Give each child or group (I had them in groups of 3) a tray and some clay to flatten on the tray (or do in advance). Then give them plastic dinosaurs to "walk" through the mud to make footprints (you can also leave skin impressions). Lightly spray with cooking spray.
    2. Instruct the participants to place their flexible plastic circle around some nice footprints.
    3. Measure out 1/4C plaster powder into a small cup and add 2 good pinches of salt, then add 2 T water and stir with the "dirty" end of the craft stick until smooth, and pour into the plastic circle. Let set for at least 20 minutes (the longer the better).
    4. Once the plaster is set, remove the plastic ring and VERY carefully remove the plaster cast from the clay and set on the paper plate. At this point it is still fragile and will break easily. Carefully clean off any clay sticking to the cast.
    5. Leave the plaster cast on the plate and let it cure for 24-48 hours. At this point it will be hard and able to be handled. In the finished cast pictured are footprints from three different dinosaurs, as well as some skin impressions.
    *Plaster is normally mixed 2 parts plaster to 1 part water and takes about an hour to set. Adding salt to the mixtures speeds this up (but adding too much also weakens the plaster). In addition, stirring the mixture with sticks that are coated with cured plaster provides crystals to seed the reaction, further speeding it up so that it will set in 10-15 minutes. 
    Activity #2 - Excavation! 

    There are many different ways to do this, but this worked really well (though messy). If possible, do outdoors, or at least on a non-carpeted floor. I wanted it to be more than simply sifting through sand, but also material that was easy enough to dig through in the amount of time we had, and somewhat simulate different layers of earth/rock.

    Materials:
    • Salt dough (it takes a lot!) made in several batches, each colored slightly different earth tones.
    • Optional additions to make it interesting (rock salt, aquarium gravel, etc.)
    • Hard plastic dinosaur skeletons that come in pieces that can be put together (I found a set of 3 for about $15 from Amazon)
    • Something to use for dirt (I used a mixture of used coffee grounds, cornmeal, and salt)
    • Disposable aluminum pans
    • Variety of tools (plastic knives, spoons, skewers, paintbrushes, toothbrushes, etc.)
    Prep:
    1. I first put a thin layer of salt dough in each pan, sprinkled a few pieces of rock salt on it and baked at 250 F for 2 hours and then let cool to provide a hard rock base layer. This step is not necessary if you'd rather skip it to save time and materials, but I really wanted to create at least 3 different layers.
    2. Next, I added a second, thicker layer of salt dough in a different color, and pressed the dinosaur bones into it, partially covering them, and baked at 200 for 45 minutes, then let cool. This made it firm and dry, but not hard.
    3. Finally, I covered with a layer of "dirt".
    Dig!
    1. I made up a total of 6 8x8 pans, and half the bones of one dinosaur went into each one. I labeled them A, B, or C so I would later know which pans went together.
    2. I gave each group of 3 kids one pan, along with assorted tools, reminding them they have to be careful not to damage the fossils (they WILL make a mess). Once all bones have been unearthed, then groups combined to assemble their skeletons. They often found they had to do a little more cleaning to get them to snap together properly.

      Some kids got bored or frustrated at this point, and wandered over to play with our large toy dinosaurs I had off to the side (they have been starring in my Dinovember "What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night" after escaping, and the ones that our young patrons have helped us capture were at the program) or to draw dinosaurs on the dry erase tables, but a few of them and a couple of moms really got into it and would not give up until they had the skeleton fully assembled.
    I also had my large dinosaur skeletons (about the size of a
    German shepherd) for the kids to look at and take pictures with.

    How It Went

    Overall, it went well, but I did not get a chance to do everything I wanted. In addition to these two activities, I had intended on showing them a number of real fossils; no dinos, unfortunately, but a lot of others that can be found in our area, even microscopic fossils in diatomaceous earth, but there was just no time.

    The first activity took twice as long as I had expected, because (1) people weren't listening or following directions, and (2) there were several latecomers, so I had to stop and repeat or start over several times. I was torn about whether to make the footprints ahead of time and let the dough dry hard to save time and be more like rock, and I now wish that's what I had done. All but one of the plaster casts set, but a few broke because of rough handling or not pouring all the plaster
    in and making it thicker, and thus stronger.

    The excavation worked really, really well and the kids clearly enjoyed that the most, and some of the parents really got into it, too. I would highly recommend the skeleton set I bought, even if they did send us two stegosauruses and no T. rex. It did make a huge mess, and I spent a full hour cleaning up. I would have had a layer of slightly damp, packed "dirt" and only a thin layer of loose dirt on top, but I didn't have time as the dinosaur skeletons didn't arrive until the day of the program!

    I wish we'd had time to do some of the fossils, especially because that was the main reason the oldest child came, but I'll have to figure out some other program to do where that can be the focus. I really felt bad when he asked about them and I had to say we just didn't have time and I hadn't even had a chance to unpack them. I would've been happy to show him some afterward if my shift wasn't already over and I still had all the clean-up to do.

    In hindsight, the plaster casting and excavation activities were too much to do together. If I had it to do over again, I'd just do one of them along with looking at real fossils, and spend a little more time talking about the science of paleontology, how fossils develop, and how they are found, and the individual fossils. 

    I definitely learned my lesson about being overly ambitious and overplanning! But next month's program will have no prep and virtually no clean-up, so it balances out. Plus I got to channel Ms. Frizzle and wear this super cute dinosaur dress 😉

    Sunday, November 18, 2018

    Dinovember Family Storytime


    Dinosaur storytime
    I chose to do Dinosaur themes for both my programs this month, which grew into a whole Dinovember campaign, and while I have favorite books for this theme, I challenged myself to use books I had not used before

    I had a great CD of dinosaur songs, Wee Sing Dinosaurs, that my daughter used to listen to  in the car when she was a toddler. I started it playing in the storytime area about 15 minutes before storytime started, while I was getting everything else together. We started with our welcome song, followed by introductions and discussions of our favorite dinosaur.

    Dinosaur storytimeSome of the kids were very wiggly and rambunctious, so I added a couple of extra verses (roaring and stomping) to our story song before reading our first book, Dinosaur vs. The Library by Bob Shea. I started with this one because it would involved lots of roaring, which I hoped would tire my audience out. 

    Dinosaur loves roaring, and challenges all the other animals he meets. But when he goes to the library he learns roaring is discouraged and he must use his "inside roar". Dinosaur goes to storytime, but can he stay quiet through an entire story? Short, simple, fun, and interactive.

    The kids were still wound-up, so I decided to do a very active song, where they could pretend to be dinosaurs.


    The Dinosaur Goes....
    (to the tune of "The Wheels On The Bus"0

    Tyrannosaurus rex goes roar, roar, roar;
    Roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar.
    Tyrannosaurus rex goes roar, roar, roar, 
    All day long.

    Velociraptor goes run, run, run...
    Triceratops goes munch, munch, munch...
    Pterodactyl goes flap, flap, flap....
    Mosasaur goes splash, splash, splash....
    Brontosaurus goes stomp, stomp, stomp.....


    Dinosaur storytime
    For our second book I choose Dinosaurs Galore, the pop-up version of Dinosaur Roar by Paul and Henrietta Stickland. This is another short simple book illustrating contrasting terms. 

    I try to include a pop-up book in storytime as often as I can because the kids really love them, and they don't get to see them very often. I love the cute illustrations and simple text that you can expand upon if desired, and the pop-ups help keep them engaged.

    We followed that with one of my favorite flannels that the kids always seem to enjoy:

    Dinosaur storytime, Five Little Dinosaurs, dinosaur flannel

    Five Little Dinosaurs

    One little dinosaurs went out to play,
    Out on a giant fern one day.
    He had such enormous fun, 
    He called for another dinosaur to come:

    "Oh, Diiiiiinosaur!"
    (pat hands on knees to imitate running)

    Five little dinosaurs went out to play,
    Out on a giant fern one day.
    They had such enormous fun,
    They played all day til the day was done!

    And then the mommy dinosaurs called, 
    "Oh, Little Dinosaurs!"

    I had planned on a third book, and had 3 great options: Three Little Dinosaurs, Thesaurus Rex, and Dinosaur Stomp (another pop-up), but somehow we ran out of time. So we did our closing song and I put the Wee Sing Dinosaurs CD back on for them to listen to while they did the optional craft or just hung out and played.

    Craft

    The craft was a very simple one, given the young age of the audience. I cut out capital letter "D"s in several colors, which would be glued to a piece of paper and used as the body of a dinosaur. Crayons, markers, scissors, scrap paper, and googly eyes were provided so they could design whatever kind and color dinosaur they wished. Below are my two examples and a few crafts the kids made.

    Dinosaur craft

    How It Went

    The kids seemed to enjoy the songs and books that we did, and loved talking about dinosaurs, but there was one child in particular that kept constantly interrupting and trying to talk over me and everyone else. It was a little frustrating, and no matter how I asked him to stop, he couldn't help himself.

    I still trying to find my groove with this storytime, which really surprises me since I had done literally several hundred storytimes before I moved over here. But, my prior experience was in outreach storytimes, which are in a much more structured and controlled environment in the classroom. I'm used to having everyone sit roughly in a semi-circle in front of me, so it's easy for everyone to see and hear, and I can easily hear them and read their body language.

    But at this library, I cannot get the families to move in close enough. Instead, they sprawl out as far away as possible it seems, so I don't get the same feedback or feel as connected with them. I've asked them to move closer and sit on the floor in front of me, but they just won't. They don't want to sit in the floor, and insist on sitting on top of the built-in storage bins around the perimeter of the storytime area, or at the tables and chairs that are actually just outside the storytime area. It really prevents storytime from being all it could be, but I'm not sure what to do to get them to move in closer.

    Sunday, November 4, 2018

    Welcome to DiNovember! - Programming


    Dinovember

    So I'm finally getting a chance to do something I've always wanted to do: DiNovember! In case you're asking "what is "DiNovember?", it's a month-long celebration of dinosaurs and the children (and adults) who are obsessed with them, with multiple programs on a dinosaur theme, both active and passive. It was inspired by Refe and Susan Tume, authors of the What the Dinosaurs Did picture book series and instigators of this "month-long imagination invasion".

    They started with posing their kids' plastic dinosaurs in various types of mischief and photographing them for their kids, then shared the pictures online. A few years ago a library (I believe it was a public library in Columbus, WI) picked up on it, and did the same thing with their toy dinosaurs in the library, sharing photos on the library Facebook page, and with a Facebook group for library people, which is how I learned about it. Being a total dinosaur nut, I LOVED the idea, but was not really in a position to implement it at the time.

    But, now I am in a programming position in a branch library with a supervisor and coworkers who were willing to indulge me (though I'm not sure they knew just what level of dinosaur fanaticism they were unleashing 😉). So I have planned a dinosaur family storytime, a dinosaur/paleontology themed school-aged STEAM program, dinosaur and fossil scavenger hunts, a dinosaur book display, and my own version of "what the dinosaurs did last night", starting with this poster (click on any image to see full size):

    Dinovember, dinosaurs

    Some do a new picture every day, but I think that's a bit much, so I'll probably do one every 2-3 days, posting different "wanted" posters in the library, and hopefully to the library Facebook page (since we just have one for the whole system I'm still waiting for approval on that); I will also post them to the Adventures In Storytime Facebook page as well, so you can all follow along. I can't wait to see what great ideas my coworkers come up with for the dinos to get into! I think I will also hide a couple of the dinosaurs in the library each week for kids to find and help us gradually apprehend them all by the end of the month.

    Our scavenger hunts are a continuous passive program that we change out every week or two with different themes. We usually select 6-8 pictures with whatever theme we decide on and place them around the department, then make a checklist sheet for the kids. When the kids find them all, they come back to the desk for a prize (usually stickers). For this month, I'm doing one with meat-eating dinosaurs, one with plant-eaters, and one with fossils found in our state. (I left one week open in case one of my coworkers wanted to do a Thanksgiving theme.)

    I do not have one of the big inflatable T-rex costumes, but I did buy this really cute dinosaur dress! Yes, I am Ms. Frizzle at heart.

    There will be other non-dino programs going on as well, though I think at least one coworker is also doing a dino-themed storytime. I haven't decided for sure exactly what I'm doing for my dino storytime or for my STEAM program, other than there will be at least one pop-up book in storytime, and one of the STEAM activities will be making plaster casts of dinosaur footprints. I'll write up each of those programs separately with all the details afterward, so check back!

    Oh, I almost forgot! I also bought these large dino skeletons (about the side of a German Shephard dog). They have noise-activated sensors that make them roar and open and close their mouths, which I promptly turned off. 

    Happy DiNovember!!


    Dinovember, dinosaurs

    Sunday, October 28, 2018

    Spooky Science - STEAM Program


    Spooky Science, STEM programs for kids, STEAM programs for kids

    This is my second STEAM program with my new job (the first was a repeat of my "Mirror, Mirror" program), and since it was going to be close to Halloween I immediately thought of playing with dry ice to make creepy fog, a bubbling cauldron, and ghostly bubbles for a "Spooky Science" theme. 

    Since the audience has tended to be on the younger end of the intended age range of 5-10, I decided it would be best to do the dry ice experiments as demonstrations rather than hands on, and a friend (thanks, Rebecca!) made the suggestion of making a clear slime "ectoplasm" a la Ghostbusters for a hands-on activity. I played around with it and then discovered I could buy glow powder on Amazon, and decided to go one step better and make Glow-in-the-Dark slime! 

    Budget: $70 total (but that was enough for at least 36 participants)
    Ages: 5-10+
    Time: 1 hour
    Number: I had 12 kids, would not recommend for more than 20 unless you have more than one staff person to run it.

    Dry Ice Experiments:

    • dry ice, 5-10 lbs ($15-$30, I was lucky enough to have it donated)
    • water, both hot & cold
    • assorted bowls
    • tall, clear container (could be a jug, vase, whatever)
    • rubber gloves or balloons
    • Dawn dish soap
    • long strip fabric (about 4-6" longer than the diameter of your widest bowl
    • paper towels

    1. Bubbling Cauldron & Creepy Fog - To set the mood, I started off by having a
    Spooky Science, STEM programs, STEAM programs, dry ice experiments with kids
    bubbling cauldron going as they came in the room by putting about 2 cups of dry ice into a large plastic cauldron and adding hot water. This will initially produce a mass of rolling fog, then it will settle down into a steady "simmer". [Click on any photo to see full-size image.]

    After everyone was settled, we talked about what was going on, what dry ice is (frozen carbon dioxide, -110 F or -79 C), and sublimation. Then I poured in more hot water to set off another mass of rolling fog, and let them come up in groups of 3 to put their hand into the fog in the cauldron. I also got some of the water out and let them feel how it was now cold, even though it was hot when I put in.
    Spooky Science, STEAM programs, STEM programs, dry ice experiments for kids
    2. Cold "Boiling" Water - I filled a tall-ish, clear container with cold water and added just a few pellets of dry ice. The audience could see the bubbles of CO2 gas form on the pellets (which sink rather than float like wet ice) and float to the top. Though the water appears to be boiling, it really isn't, and kids could touch the water to confirm it is cold.
    Spooky Science, inflating glove with dry ice, STEM/STEAM programs for kids
    3. Self-Inflating Glove - Next, I put 2-3 pellets of dry ice into a latex glove (because I had no balloons), and we watched it inflate (takes about 20 minutes at room temperature, but you can speed this up by putting it in hot water).

    4. Screaming Ice - Then I made the dry ice "scream" by picking it up with metal tongs, then by putting some in a metal bowl. The noise is caused by the evaporation of the dry ice when it contacts the warmer metal and producing a high-pitched vibration that sounds like a screech or squeal. It only lasts a couple of seconds and isn't very loud so I made sure everyone was quiet and listening first.

    5. Giant Ghost Bubble - I first made a soapy solution (I didn't measure this, but I'd guess about 1/4 C Dawn dishwashing soap to 1 C water), then got a large glass bowl and put about 2 cups of dry ice pellets in, and added hot water. Then I dipped a fabric strip in the soap solution and lightly ran my fingers down it to remove the excess (saturated but not dripping). I held the strip taught and ran it across the top edge of the bowl to create a soap film, then we watched the giant bubble grow! It eventually burst, releasing a ghostly fog!



    You can repeat as long as soap does not end up dripping or running down into the bowl. If it does, smaller bubble will form and grow within the bowl that will prevent you from being able to make a large bubble. Let it bubble for a while, then you can pour off the water, rinse the dry ice lump a couple of times, then add more hot water and try again.

    Ectoplasm (Glow-In-The-Dark Slime):

    • Elmer's Clear Glue* (2 ounces per participant), $20-25 for a gallon jug
    • Borax powder, $6 (see my previous post regarding safety)
    • warm water
    • small (6-10 oz) water bottles
    • Glow Powder*, natural green (brightest glow), $8/30g, (I got 60 g and had lots left)
    • food coloring
    • glitter 
    • small paper bowls
    • craft sticks
    • tablespoon measuring spoons, 1/4 cup measuring cups
    • small plastic cups
    • gloves (not required, but available for those who might want them)
    • zip-lock bags

    1. Set Up - I made the Borax solution up ahead of time, as it is inhalation/ingestion of the powder that is the safety risk. I added 1/2 teaspoon Borax powder per cup of warm water, which is about a 0.88% solution, and stirred until dissolved (allow for 1/4 Cup solution per participant). I then dispensed the solution into small water bottles (1 for every 3 participants) and labeled clearly with a Sharpie. (I did not have empty bottles, so I used the water from the bottles to make the solution so as not to waste it).

    I set out a bowl, a cup, and a craft stick (for stirring) at each place. Then I set out 1 bottle of water, 1 bottle of labeled Borax solution, and 1 set of measuring utensils for every 3 participants. Since I had 1 big jug of glue, I measured and dispensed it into their bowls; if you use smaller bottles you can let the kids do it themselves, reminding them to use the craft stick to scrape it all out.

    2. I instructed participants that it was very important that they listen and follow directions and not do anything until I told them to if they wanted theirs to turn out right. First, they were to measure out 2 tablespoons of water into the cup, then add it to the glue in their bowl.

    3. Then they added 1 drop of desired coloring, and glitter of their choice. I cautioned them that it was very important not to add too much coloring or glitter, and they would see why later [the less color & glitter the better for a brighter glow]. 

    4. I then added 1/4 teaspoon of the "secret ingredient" (glow powder) to each one, and gave them a few minutes to get all their additions mixed well, using the craft stick. [I never told them we were making glow-in-the-dark slime, so they would be surprised and amazed.]

    5. Before the final step, I instructed them to measure out 3 tablespoons of the Borax solution *into the plastic cup* and wait for the next step. When everyone was ready, I instructed them to start stirring their mixture, and while stirring to gradually pour some of the pre-measured Borax solution into the mixture, but not to use all of it yet.

    6. Then we spent a few minutes mixing, and I went around checking their slime and letting them know if they needed to add a little more Borax. Some needed it all, and some didn't, probably due to variations in measurements, and stirring. Some had to work theirs a little bit to get it to all come together into a ball.

    7. Once everyone's slime was to a satisfactory consistency and they were playing with it, I told them now we're going to see what the secret ingredient was for, and turned the lights out. They were suitably impressed, as you can hear from the "oohs" and "aahs" in the video below (be sure volume is turned up). Unfortunately, the glowing slime didn't show up very well in the video after it was uploaded, but you can see it better in the pictures further down.



    8. I explained what the glow powder was (strontium aluminate) and that it works by storing energy from the UV rays in the light, then slowly releasing it, producing the glow, a type of solar energy. When it stops glowing, it just has to be recharged by putting under a bright light or in sunlight (I had pre-charged the powder by leaving it in the sunlight for an hour, and shining a UV flashlight on it for a few minutes before using it.). It can be used and recharged indefinitely, but the slime itself will start to break down after maybe 3-4 weeks. 

    In the photos below, not only is the slime glowing as the kids play with it, the mixing bowls and stir sticks are also glowing from the residue left on them.


    Glow-In-The-Dark Slime, Spooky Science, STEM/STEAM programs for kids

    9. I gave them all ziplock bags so they could take their slime home, and then we played with the dry ice a little more for the last few minutes.

    [*Note - Elmer's now makes glow-in-the-dark glue you could also use, but it was not readily available in larger quantities at a reasonable price when I first planned this program. Now it can be purchased in 9 oz bottles for about $9 at Wal-Mart. It works fine, but is much more opaque. It is very thick, so you may need to add another tablespoon of water to thin it down some. Also, the "natural" will glow much brighter than the colors. My method is more economical for large groups, or multiple programs.]


    Spooky Science, STEM/STEAM programs for kids

    How It Went

    Overall, it went very well. One of the dry ice experiments I had planned did not work (concentrating the CO2 gas by forcing through a funnel and into a length of tubing to blow soap bubbles filled with fog), but I was skeptical of it to begin with. But the kids were plenty impressed by the rolling fog and giant bubble we made in the bowl, so it was fine. The massive amounts of fog produced when the hot water hits the dry ice always impresses everyone!

    Everyone's slime came together pretty well, though for some reason it was stiffer than when I had made it at home, more putty-like. At home I produced a perfect batch that was really stretchy and truly slimy without being too sticky. But the kids were perfectly happy with it, and of course were amazed when they discovered it glowed in the dark!

    We did run into one issue, though. About half of the kids chose to make theirs green, as I had, since that is the color of the ectoplasm left by Slimer in the Ghostbusters movies, but a couple chose yellow, one made blue, and two chose red. We discovered that the red coloring masked the glow, so that it only faintly glowed white instead of bright green.

    Also, even with limiting the food coloring to 1 drop, the color was way too saturated, so next time I would add a squirt of Elmer's glitter glue, which has coloring and glitter added, to give just the right amount of more subtle color to make it more clear and slime-like. But I think the kids were all happy with their slime and everyone seemed to have a great time.