My daughter LOVES science. She is fortunate to go to a school that has a PTA sponsored day of science where the kids are exposed to hands-on science for an entire day, but other than that, science, at her school, is nothing to write home about. She loves what she does get to do, but it is still an underfunded subject. I believe she will be a bugologist or mixologist of some sort!
We struggled with what to do for her 9th birthday. Her original thought was to do a “hotel” party, but that seemed more conducive to a slumber party, which I’m not ready to consider. She then moved onto a “bug safari,” but I didn’t think several of her friends would have fun with that. We finally landed on “science” with an artsy twist. The party revolved around “breaking rules” and “gross,” something entirely enticing to a group of 8-9 year old girls!
As you might recall from previous posts, I aim to do fun birthday parties on a dime, so costs are included along the way.
The first rule we broke involved Sharpie markers and white tee-shirts. Sounds like a bad idea already, right? After a quick lesson in solubility, the girls were instructed to stretch their tee-shirts over the mouth of a plastic cup, secure them with rubber bands, and then draw simple designs with the Sharpies. After their design was complete, they dropped about 10 drops of rubbing alcohol onto their design and watched in amazement as their designs expanded and took on a tye-die effect. This is an incredibly creative group of girls and they worked for a good 30+ minutes. The shirts were really beautiful when they were done, each one unique and colorful. I ran the shirts through the dryer and they were proud to put them on before they went home!
Since this was the highest set up project, I had this one set to go when the girls got there. My daughter opted to work with bright-rainbow c0lors, so I set each “place setting” up on a sheet of pink, orange, lime green or turquoise cardstock. Each girl had a folded shirt, colored lab goggles (borrowed from a science teacher friend) and plastic cup that contained an eye dropper and rubber band. I set clear bowls of rubbing alcohol out, one bowl per three girls. It made for a bright and festive greeting!
Total Cost for the Tee-Shirts: $2/shirt. I was lucky to find the shirts on sale and all of the other supplies (plastic cups, sharpies, rubber bands, rubbing alcohol) I had on hand. I had a friend who gave me several droppers and the girls were happy to take them home!
While the girls were waiting for their friends to finish up their shirts, they received a plastic test tube and three pixi sticks. They had fun layering the colors and eating their candy.
Our next project was a gross-turned-cool conversation. Here, the girls learned about polymers and their ability to absorb liquid. I had a bowl of previously-absorbed-and-now-very-slimy-polymers for the girls to touch (ew! gross!) and then I enlightened them with the fact that polymers is what is inside disposable diapers. (eeeew! gross! Extended discussion on which younger siblings wear diapers!) I had them mix a bowl of Soil Moist, a readily available polymer that many gardeners use. The girls could see how quickly it expanded. I set out previously mixed bowls of red, yellow and blue polymers for a discussion on color mixing.
I was able to find some pens with a clear tube, typically meant for sand art that worked perfectly for this project. The girls filled their pens with the polymers. Most of them figured that if they layered their polymers Red – Yellow – Blue – Red, they’d eventually get a rainbow effect as the polymers began to share liquid.
Total Cost: About $1/pen. The pens were found on clearance, and while the bag of Soil Moist was about $8, I barely used any from the bag and figure my garden is going to really reap the benefit! I colored the soil moist with a few drops of food coloring from my kitchen cabinet.
Total Cost: 50cents/bag
Our final project involved blowing things up. For this one, we went up to the cul-de-sac and did the Mentos-Diet Coke Gyser classic, re-made popular by David Letterman. The girls were amazed to see the pop fly a good 8 or so feet into the air. I was surprised at how quickly it blew up! The birthday girl got to pull the pin that held the Mentos, and I suspect she got a little wet!
Total Cost: $3.50 Get the Steve Spangler kit. It makes it much easier to get the Mentos into the bottle of Diet Coke. Michaels carries his line and the kits are quite affordable when coupled with a 40% off coupon. I heard cheap pop works best, so I just bought an off brand for 79cents.
No party is complete without food, so in line with the theme, we ate dirt cake instead of traditional birthday cake. My daughter has uber-healthy friends, so I served a plate of fresh fruit, orange soda (just because its fun, not healthy) and water. I didn’t add up the food cost, but I would guess it was around $20 and I had plenty left over.
We could gone without party favors since the girls went home with their shirts and pens, but we found these “Science Experiments” in a tube, so each girl went home with one of these, pop rocks and a couple of inexpensive Silly bands. These projects can be found on the Steve Spangler website, but I actually found them for less at a local toy store.
Total Cost – $3.75/girl
When I add it all up, this party was a bit more expensive (just over $100 for 12 girls) than I budgeted for, but I’ve already gotten emails from several of the parents saying that their girls came home saying that this was the best party they’d ever gone to. And when I was telling my mom about the party, she perhaps paid the highest compliment, when she remarked that it was significant that the GIRLS got an opportunity to DO science and see that science could be a lot of fun.
A couple of things made this party more fun for me…a friend had lab coats and neon colored lab goggles for the girls to borrow. They all got a huge kick out of those! And I also enlisted the help of two girl friends to help run the show.
Fun, fun, fun!