Simple egg experiment and looking at that egg 5 weeks later

My kids and I did this experiment about a year ago and it was a lot of fun to do. But we didn’t fully understand the concepts covered, like density and buoyancy, so we redid it.

Goal of the experiment was to show how salt water has more density than plain water, which will make the egg float. Floating is buoyancy.

Supplies: a glass cup, enough water to fill half the cup, an egg (uncooked), salt, and a spoon to stir.

Instructions: The recipe called for a certain number of tablespoons of salt with a specific ounce of water, but I just decided to do it my way. See what happens. Even when I follow instructions, it’s a hit or miss. It’s all a learning process anyway.

We filled 3/4 of water in a tall glass cup, added (around) 4 spoon fulls of salt and stirred away. Once the salt particles dissolved, we gently plopped the egg into the cup. It floated down. After many tries of adding salt, stirring, and dropping the egg into the cup, we finally got the egg to float.

The process was slow since the egg had to be gently spooned out of the cup each time we needed to add and stir the salt. Many tries later, the egg finally floated; even with a poke down, the egg bounced back to a float.

SURPRISING RESULT, as a result of not knowing what to do with the egg post experiment: That cup of salt water and egg has been sitting on our kitchen counter for a month now. This was an interesting find…unexpected results! In the beginning, the water level was at the third ring from the top.

Post observational findings:

  1. water slowly evaporates
  2. even with evaporation, the egg still floats
  3. salt crystals formed on top of the egg
  4. No changes occurred on the egg
  5. Still floating, laden with salt crystals on top
  6. After most of the water evaporates, we’ll crack the egg to see if it’s changed

If you have an extra egg and time on your hands, you should try this experiment and see what you find!

I hope I covered the concepts correctly. I’m learning with the kids too and piecing my science knowledge one experiment at a time.

Hairspray the puffy part of the Dandelion

We picked two fuzzy dandelion heads to try our experiment. As is usual with dandelion puffs, any movement blew away the little florets. And I just learned that a seed can travel up to five miles and the part that blows away is called parachutes; a descriptive and suitable name.

Kids walked carefully shielding the puff with their free hand. Once outside our home, we hair sprayed a dandelion puff to see if it would keep its form. It did! A few days later, only the stem withered but the hair sprayed part remained the same.

Comparing the 2. As I’m looking at the picture now, I don’t remember the control dandelion puff being so squished at the time (honest: did not do that on purpose to show a vast difference). Anyways, you can see the one of the right holding its shape from the hair spray.

2020 VBS experience: Zoom style

Our much anticipated event for the summer, VBS (Vacation Bible School), has come and gone too soon. For the past few evenings, kids were delighted to still attend VBS through Zoom and to see the faces of friends and teachers in the meeting. They didn’t have the in- person experience of learning the moves to the songs, playing games, and making edible crafts, but kids adjusted quickly to the new format enjoying it as much.

They bemoaned the fact that it was too short and they would’ve liked it if the church added more days. That’s saying a lot, because they had homework to complete and had to sit still in front of the computer for 90 minutes for 4 evenings.

What a different set up in 2020 than pre-pandemic programs. The familiar summer VBS meant being at church four afternoons for four days where all the activities are geared towards children having fun and learning about Jesus. As you turn into the parking lot, you can see car doors opened with kids getting ready and parents stuffing their bags with water bottles, extra clothes, or whatever else they think they may need. By the time you walk up to the registration booth, the upbeat VBS music thumps in the background and you admire the colorful decor, theme specific to that year’s VBS, displayed in and outside the church.

For parents, the range and pace of activities contribute to post VBS exhaustion with muscle aches and pains. I don’t know how the volunteers and pastors make it through the week with high energy and a smile on their faces.

It’s a bit of everything from learning about Jesus through stories and verses, getting up on stage to sing and dance the songs you just learned, hanging out with friends and teachers in your classrooms, making crafts, eating, and playing team games. The program reminds me of a pep rally: colorful; loud; fun; affirming; interactive; lively; and memorable.

I am truly grateful for the pastors, volunteer teachers and teens, parents, children, those working behind the scenes who made this experience possible. Each year my kids complain that VBS days are too short and ask how many months till the next VBS. They wonder what the music will be like and which color t-shirts they’ll wear in their grades. When I told my kids that the first VBS, which started over one hundred years ago, lasted 4 weeks, they asked why it had to be shortened to a week. VBS history is interesting and stemmed out a need for kids to have wholesome activities during the summer. Check out: wikipedia

Not to sound corny but this is my aspiration: I hope these summer experiences will be a step towards guiding my kids to Jesus and to pursue the things of God (in the way they live and work they choose). Although I know that’s the worthiest goal, I continually need to remind myself of this; it’s easy to get distracted by attaining more achievement and success. There’s got to be more than this; but there’s also fear for the unknown of what God has in store for me, for us.

Here are some VBS pictures of my kiddos through the years:

2016. Theme: Deep sea discovery. God is with me wherever I go. Genesis 28:15 Elliot’s 2nd VBS summer. You can see his eyes a bit puffy from going to the classroom by himself. Sister was too young to participate, but my friend was able to get her a goody bag like other participating kids. Ellis held that bag like it contained gold and carefully looked at each goody once we got home.

Mysterious fish disappearance & reviving a baby fish after a squeeze incident

Recently, our Neon Tetra fish numbers dwindled to five from seven. One suddenly disappeared about a month ago, and we assumed it was eaten by the female Betta, the biggest fish in the tank. No other events occurred until three days ago; we noticed only 5 were visible.  

Kids were intrigued by its disappearance and determined to solve this mystery. They were not kidding. Elliot opened the tank lid and started lifting the decorations and moving around the gravel. I doubted he would find anything, but when he lifted the cave a tissue thin skin with its regular coloring swirled to the surface. Its insides were gone.

The red color is not blood. Its the red stripe on its body. Kids want to keep this specimen for an indefinite amount of time.

Clues: The orange Platy was seen nipping at the Tetras lately, so it became the first suspect. Betta became the #2 suspect. These suspicious fish had two sets of keen eyes watching their moves and a tap on the tank glass if they got too close to the Tetras.

Kids profiled each fish and after watching, what seemed like a billion YouTube videos, they concluded it’s the catfish group. One video explained how catfish will eat their tank mates if they run out of algae to eat. A-HA! We haven’t been giving them algae drops since they probably had enough to eat from the leftover food and fish waste. I assumed they already had plenty to eat.

New Plan: For kids: Must buy new fish to replace the 2 Neon Tetras. For me: Let’s keep it the way it is and no more fish.

Action: Bought 2 orange Platy’s and the 2 of the tiniest Neon Tetras at PetSmart. When I told the guy we wanted the smallest ones, he really delivered. They were barely visible in the plastic bag.

Implementation: Kids wanted to do the transfer themselves. I wasn’t too sure but it would be a good learning experience nonetheless. Two minutes in…water all over the chair and floor. This plastic bag collapsed and water spilled out when I cut the rubber banded part off with a scissor. Clean up took about 30 minutes for me while the kids ran off to do their thing. humph…

First transfer to our tank from PetSmart. Two baby Tetras mingling with the others.

Realization after the fact: The tiny 2 Tetras are probably babies. They may starve because the bigger ones will get to the food first.

Next action plan: We must transfer them to a smaller bowl. I tell Elliot and he wholeheartedly agrees that’s the best plan.

Implementation: Prepared a small fishbowl with conditioned water and some rocks. Elliot netted out the first one and put it in the bowl. Unfortunately, the second one got squeezed on its side during the transfer. It darted out of the net and Elliot tried to hold onto it, and this is how the Tetra’s midsection got squished. It immediately went limp and floated slowly down to the bottom of the bowl. Thought it was playing dead, but it was breathing rapidly, floating sideways. It wasn’t floating upside down; all hope is not lost yet.

Reaction: Elliot – speechless. Me – frustrated. This probably means we’ll have to go back to PetSmart the next day. Elliot: visibly upset and panicking when the fish wouldn’t swim. He apologized to me for being careless and apologizing to the fish for hurting it. I told him he didn’t need to apologize to me; it was no one’s fault. We were trying to provide a conducive habitat for the fish, except that our well-intentioned move went awry. He put his hand to his eyes and started crying saying if the fish dies it would be his fault.

When he replayed this saga to his sister later, she asked if he cried. He said, “No, I wasn’t crying. I was weeping.”

I’m exhausted from cleaning, moving this and that around, comforting a sad child, and googling treatments for Tetra fish. My first instinct was to tell Elliot that we should just let it peacefully die. We’ve accidentally killed so many fish that I didn’t see it possible to revive a tiny one back to health. It’s not that I’m heartless about fish; I really didn’t believe we could do anything productive.

Problem Solving: Google how to care for injured fish. Elliot starts searching YouTube videos and I google search on my phone. Visiting a fish vet is a possibility, but I wasn’t confident we’d go that far. The Tetra was $2.50. He found a video from a YouTube channel called Joel’sAnimalPassion00; his Tetra looked weak and would hide in dark spaces away from others. He provided specific steps for treating a sick Tetra. His channel

Step 1: Quarantine the sick fish in a small cup or bowl

Vitals: Rapid breathing, floating around sideways. At time, it swims normally and floats sideways again.

Step 2: Add a few drops of water conditioner and a dissolve a dash of salt into it. He added some medicinal formula for fish, but we didn’t have that to add at home. Had no idea if this would work, but it was worth trying in changing the water composition with salt.

Step 3: We do all of steps 1 and 2. Since the fish may be stressed out, we add a tiny pinch of “First Bites” powdered food.

Step 4: Still floating around, nibbling at the food falling over it, and breathing rapidly still. The YouTube guy said his Tetra didn’t like light, so he covered the cup with a cap. We used a small white box to cover the top.

Reducing sunlight to create comfortable ambiance for frazzled fish. Fish is housed in the bottom half of a cut plastic water bottle.

Step 5: Wait and see

Step 6: The next morning, we are surprised that the wounded Tetra is swimming normally. We give it more food and it perks up. Few hours later, we net him back into the 10 gallon tank. Immediately, it starts schooling with the other Tetras. Its name is “Warrior” due to the ordeal it survived.

Conclusion: Elliot is thrilled he was able to revive the baby fish back to health. He said we were the Emergency Room Fish Doctors and that it was tough treating a baby fish.

Current status: The revived Tetra is back with the other fish in the main tank, schooling happily with the others. I don’t want it to starve, maybe I’m paranoid, so we feed the two in a separate net container. Rest of the fish are inundated with baby food scraps. Must do a water change in the next day or two.

Careful transfer from quarantine to main tank.
Warrior is back!

This experience has convinced the kids that they are ready to upgrade to a 20 gallon tank. They promised to do all the necessary work and won’t need my help. Elliot says he’ll even use his birthday money to buy the new tank. I’m not giving in easily; they told me the same spiel when we got the 10 gallon tank. Guess who does most of the cleaning, feeding, and burying the dead fish by our garage.

Update: Day 2 of post-discharge from the small bowl. Warrior is happily schooling with the other Tetras.

Kind words from an unexpected stranger

The other day I made a phone call to one of Ellis’ healthcare supply office. We’ve been their customer for seven years and never questioned their bill. They became a part of our family through the years.

I signed the contract, a scroll-like document, for all the supplies we needed at home when Ellis got discharged from the hospital at one-month-old. I led the way holding a baby carrier and the hospital volunteer pulling a red wagon filled with medical supplies to help load into the car. Here’s my list of supplies: feeding pump, pole, tube feeding lines, bandage tape, dark glass jug of MCT oil to mix with formula, gauze, scissors, IV bags, syringes, charger, oximeter machine, weight scale, pole, and a thick binder of instructions and phone numbers. I felt like I had undergone a super accelerated and condensed nursing program to bring my kid home.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, Ellis quietly sat in her car seat looking around at the outsides for the first time.

Something about that first month and going through traumatic situations together, we have been two peas in a pod. Since the time I held her on my knees looking at me in the ICU, with wires and tubes coming out of her, I have been lost in love as a protector and mom. We stayed together always. Even when admitted to the hospital, she would freak out if I was not on the bed with her. Nurses, exasperated with her crying, would just get an adult bed and have me lie down with her. It was better than the chair, but even a small baby takes up a lot of bed space. I always had cold butt as it stuck out to make more room for her in the middle.

That’s the backdrop for my story. Needing to reorder supplies monthly, it became an unquestioned part of our lives. We ordered religiously for the first 5 years of her life, but it’s been sporadic for the past 2 years. Lots of changes in diet, routine, and stomach upset that made us reconsider supplemental night time feeding of extra caloric formula. Also, to hear the whirring of the pump throughout the night keeps me in a state of half awake/ half asleep mode. Then, if you don’t follow close instructions, you end up with formula spills, stomach upset that leads to throw up, beep sounds from the pump, extension line wrapped around the kid during sleep, changing all the bedding in the middle of the night, wiping the carpet with damp towel so floor doesn’t smell like vanilla milkshake, or washing face and hands from the throw up debris.

Current goal: get all of her nutritional needs by oral eating. This is a lot to ask for these heart kids because their heart works overtime in pumping blood, burning calories quickly. Weight gain is painfully slow. When she says “I’m hungry,” I panic. I feel that if she does not eat something right at that moment, she will pass out. I see that as a reflection of myself as a good parent. It’s irrational, I know.

Well, it just came to my attention that I was not aware of the fine print from the company. We receive lots of hospital bills, insurance company letters, packets of Explanation of benefits, and duplicates of hospital bills that are overdue, insurance pending, or payment not processed yet. The paperwork is confusing and interpreting the deductible, out of pocket, maximum, OMG, it’s baffling for lay people like me who do not fully comprehend the billing terminology.

Anyways, last week I received 10 separate bills in one day from the collection agency. It was kind of funny as I handed Elliot the empty envelopes to recycle. I didn’t realize our bills were this overdue. I assumed that we weren’t being charged for months we didn’t order supplies, which were quite a few months. Well, I forgot that we were renting the pump. Fine print: If you have the pump, you pay for the monthly supplies whether you order or not. Had no idea.

Spoke with the customer representative, billing department, blah blah blah. All the same thing. I don’t know where my anger was directed: me or this company. I couldn’t believe my oversight and complacency; I couldn’t believe their fine print and the continual repeat that this is their policy. It seemed unethical to not update parents of this billing practice from time to time. When your kid has a chronic illness, a lot of things fly straight through your head and forgetfulness runs rampant. You’re too tired and too worried.

I was exasperated and asked to speak with the supervisor. The lady asked me, “for what?” and I got majorly pd off. But there’s Ellis looking at me as I’m talking on the phone; she knows it’s about her because these phone conversations begin with confirming patient’s name and date of birth. Ugh, can’t get too mad on the phone or she may think I’m mad at her. She may think she’s to blame for my frustration.

All these things are going through my mind, and in the middle of it, Elliot calls “Mommy” like 5 times asking me if he could eat the peanut butter-jelly sandwich on the counter and Ellis announcing that says she needs to poop. Adult reality and kid reality; my mind felt like mush.

Ok, I’m taking too long here. I didn’t have the bandwidth to carry this conversation further. I called the collection agency to settle the debt. I needed to be over with this or it’ll hang over my head the rest of the day, the week.

I’m so mad that I’m sobbing on the phone as I tell the collector our account number and all that confirmation info. The guy must’ve thought I was nuts or either being dramatic to get a lower settlement. I explained the situation and asked what final settlement amount he could offer. I thought he may assume I’m not sincere with my story, so I had to explain that I was going to pay the bill but that this whole situation upset me tremendously.

I never expected to hear words of comfort from a debt collector: Don’t be too hard on myself.; It’s understandable how I could’ve not known in the middle of all this medical drama with your kid.; It’s a shame I wasn’t notified about this during a service pause.; He apologized that I was going through this but that now I know and can decide whether to continue business with them.

I cried more thinking how God comforts me through unexpected people. He knows the big toll caretaking has on me emotionally, physically, and spiritually. But when I feel the day is too long to bear, He sends surprises in is perfect timing. Knowing that He cares so much to convey affirming words to me made me sadder with gratefulness and humility that He acknowledges a flawed person like me.

It was a surreal conversation. You don’t usually think of a debt collector showing this kind of thoughtful understanding to a collectee. His kindness made me cry more. Settled the debt, cancelled the account, and cried because I felt relieved to have this behind me.

The kids asked me why I cried. I explained that I was mad at myself for a stupid mistake of mine. I apologized to Elliot that I was short with him when he was just asking about a sandwich. Ellis shakes her head side to side like a grown up, saying “Mommy, it’s ok. Everyone makes mistakes.”

p.s. I am posting this without further edit. It takes so long to edit that it may keep me up through the night. I’m not upset anymore and have made peace with the situation. The medical supply company is just doing their business and I have the choice to change providers. No hate…I’m over it now.