June 20, 2012

Mad Scientist Party

I would have to say that the inspiration for this party came from cool Halloween supplies on clearance at Walmart!  I'll show it to you later in the treat bags, but since Halloween is about six months before my son's birthday, he had to decide quickly.  Since I am pretty good at persuading my children toward the party I want to plan, it wasn't hard to convince him :)  They do actually get a choice, but once I tell them all of the cool ideas I have for that theme, they jump on board quickly.

This was a fun party to plan, but got a little pricey from all of the specialized supplies I purchased for it.  Compared to some I found, I think I actually kept it pretty cheap.  But with 6 months to plan, I accumulated quite a few items.  But the results were a really cool party.  And just to prove it, I will quote a boy who attended that came up to me and said, "I just have to tell you, this is the coolest birthday party I have ever been to!"  I love that kid.

I found these awesome invitations that I used at Living Lucurto (her party linked here).  Here's the link for the cute OPEN WITH CAUTION stickers used to seal them with.  I love it when talented people share awesome freebies!  Forgot to take a photo!  Click on the link to see hers that I used.

The color scheme came from the invitations and the supplies that I had, and this cool Hazardous Teen Party on Catch My Party.

 Test tube sprinkles were from Halloween clearance items at Walmart.

Halloween decor and dry ice in colored water added to our mad decor. The background science die-cuts were from Dollar Tree.

We bought dry ice to add to the colored water for a cool effect, but it just doesn't last very long!  Long enough to take a few photos, but not through the party.  It would take a big chunk of dry ice to get a long-lasting effect.  We put a little more in when the kids came in to eat so they could see it.

Safety goggles from Dollar Tree.

We had the caution sign (below) posted on the front door as the kids showed up.  My daughter drew the "Get your Einstein on!" sign on the white board that was in the entry.  She helped them get their lab coat on, safety glasses, then if they wanted, she used hair mousse to get their hair spikey.  A few kids even let her do it!
The lab coats were made from a white garbage bag and a Sharpie marker.  We cut holes for their head and arms.  Here's a cute idea for one out of a white T-shirt, but we were going for waterproof.

Building their atom structures.

After the boys got dressed for mess, they headed outside and were given a bag of gumdrops and toothpicks to build an Atom structure.  We told them to make it as tall and as stable as they could.  They came up with some pretty neat towers.  I got the idea from here at Party Planning Mom, but I think the gumdrops we used were more stable than marshmallows.  The link will take you to her entire party, which is very inspiring.  Many of my ideas came from her party.
My husband and my oldest son were our scientists that demonstrated and helped run the experiments. I kept calling my son Beaker, but since he had never see The Muppets, he didn't get it :)

I had my very own Beaker and Bunsen!

The jelly marbles were purchased from Steve Spangler Science.  If you watch the videos on his website you can get lots of ideas for experiments to do with the supplies.  When they show up, they also come with a sheet of directions and experiments which was really helpful.

Jelly marbles are solid polymer orbs that start out the size of a small bead.  They expand to a squishy marble size as they absorb water.   The first photo is of marbles that we soaked for at least a day in colored water, yellow and blue.  The middle photo shows how they disappear when you add water to the container.  We had a message taped on behind it that said "Happy Birthday Noah" and was revealed when the water went in, but you can't see it in the photo.  The third photo shows how the clear ones are practically invisible in water.  The kids loved putting their hand in this and feeling them.  They were given some dry jelly marbles in their treat bags to take home and "grow".

We tried to dry them out afterward, but after being handled and played with, they got moldy before they shrunk, and we threw them away.

Hydrophobic sand or "Magic Sand".
Hydrophobic sand is SO much fun to play with!  When it is in the air it looks and feels just like regular sand, but when it is under water it gets 'scared' of the water (hydrophobic) and clumps together.  You can shape it and lift it under water, but as soon as you get into the air it falls apart.  My husband explained how it works and then the kids got to take turns playing with it.

I was able to spread it out to dry after the party to store back in a bag.  Spread it thinly though because little drops of water kept hiding in it.

I tried to make everything sound as scientific as I could, so the above supplies are white vinegar and baking soda.  In the recipe below there are scientific (or scientific-sounding) names you could label them with.  Most of the kids were pretty smart and knew what they were.

Top three photos are the volcanoes. Bottom two are Insta Snow.

I knew we wanted to do the old erupting volcano experiment, but I wasn't sure how.  Somewhere I stumbled across this easy way to make a volcano out of a Dixie cup, small plate and foil.  Just tape the cup to the center of the plate, put a piece of tin foil over it and tape to the bottom, then cut slits in the top of the cup and tape them to the inside.  It was an easy and inexpensive way to make 12 volcanoes.

Volcano Recipe (for a small Dixie cup)
1 Tbsp. baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
2 Tbsp. water (H2O)
drop or two of food color (Blue No. 1, Red No. 40)
1 drop of dish soap (sodium laureth sulfate, or anionic surficant)
     Mix together with a popsicle stick (stirring stick).  Then take to eruption site before adding:
2 Tbsp. vinegar (acetic acid)
     Pour it in quickly!

I experimented with a lot of different recipes, but loved it this way with the dish soap.  Without it the bubbles pop and go away quickly, but with it, it foams and oozes over the edges slower for a longer-lasting effect.  Always try it out ahead of time to make sure it works well with the size of cup you have.  It wouldn't be any fun if it didn't overflow!

The bottom two photos (above) are of the Insta Snow, which was also purchased from Steve Spangler Science.  This powder is a super absorbent polymer that grows in seconds when you add the water.  Again, watch the videos on his site to see how cool it is.  We had the kids team up for this one and after watching it grow in the cup they got to dump it out onto large cookie sheets and play with it.  We didn't send any of this home because it could be a big mess if not controlled.
The next experiment was to make Oobleck, a non-newtonian fluid.  This basically means that when stress is applied to this liquid it exhibits properties of a solid, and it's totally cool to play with!  I got the little storage containers at the dollar store, which is a great place to get them because I think they come in a six pack for a dollar, and they have all different sizes.

Oobleck Recipe
1 part water
1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch
food coloring (optional)

Try it ahead of time to get the right consistency.  I think we used a straight 1:2 ratio.  The kids got to take this home in their containers, but because of the dirt and oil on your hands, it goes moldy quickly.  You could try storing it in the fridge, or just make a new batch.

Tip:  I bought the baking soda and cornstarch from a store that sells these items in bulk bins and it made it much cheaper.  I went to WinCo Foods.

And what party would be complete without Mentos and Diet-Coke geysers!!!
The highlight of the party! Saved for the end because the kids were a MESS afterward!

We purchased the Geyser Tube from Steve Spangler also, and you really couldn't do this as well without it.  The best effect comes by getting all of the Mentos into the Diet Coke at once, and the pull-pin makes that possible.  My husband made a little stand out of some scrap wood to keep the bottle from tipping, and each guest got a pack of plain mint Mentos (they got to decide how many to add), and a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke.  We rinsed out the tube between launches to keep it from reacting too soon.

Off brands of soda will work also, but I got this on sale for the same price.  My family hardly ever drinks soda, and we don't drink Coke at all, so I felt SO guilty with a shopping cart full of twelve 2-liter bottles!  I told everyone I talked to that it was for Mentos and Diet Coke geysers because I didn't want them to think I was going to drink it!

Most of the kids actually kept their lab coats on, and only a few chose to stand in the geysers, but for this reason, go with Diet Coke instead of regular to reduce the sticky mess.  Nothing you can do about the smell though, because those kids were REALLY stinky afterward!

The food was simple, but fun.  I saw some Jello made in petri dishes with a gummy worm, but didn't want the added expense, so I used clear cups instead, and I think they turned out great.  I let them set up just a little before adding the gummy worms.  We did four flavors of jello.  The main dish was hotdogs, and the drinks were mini cans of 7-UP with the label below.  Again, thanks to this post for the inspiration.  The atom structures the kids made were a great centerpiece, and I filled my big cookie jar full of atomic cheese balls.
Cake & Cupcakes:

I purchased this gummy brain on Halloween clearance at Walmart, and it made an awesome cake topper!  The container was from some rolls or something that we had just purchased their also.  The icing is tinted slightly grayish, and it was easy to do a brain design on the top of the cupcakes with a large round tip.  I totally LOVE how they turned out.  I was going to tint some vanilla pudding green to put as filling in the cupcakes, but I didn't have time.


The treat bags were: skull suckers, prisms, wax drink things, and paddle/balls from Halloween clearance items from Walmart, Toxic Waste candies, bubbles, glow sticks, Sour Dudes Sour Straws and grow capsules from Dollar Tree, Smarties and Atomic FireBall candies, and polymer orbs from Steve Spangler Science (link above).  Nerd candies would also be a great addition.

The bubbles from Dollar Tree turned out really cute.  I struggled to come up with a scientific name for them, and eventually made this one up on my own.  I'm pretty proud of it!
It was a very fun party to plan.  A little time-consuming to come up with the experiments, but worth it.  It was also great doing something that felt a little educational also.  Helps me justify the cost! :)

Please leave comments with questions or additional party ideas.
I'd love to hear from you!
Click here to download the printable files I made.
  • The font I used for the labels was Aharoni.
  • The label images were from various clip-art I found on Google Images, and the font Science which is a bunch of science dingbats.  Available free on dafont.com.
  • Funology is a site with great information and science experiments.
  • Birthday Party Ideas.com has this great party posted under the name Scientific Sleepover 8 yr.


Anonymous said...

Hi! I love your ideas and I am excited to use some of them for my son's upcoming mad scientist bash. The printables are so helpful! Thanks again for sharing!

Unknown said...

Hi, I love your science party and I have borrow several ideas for my sons' (two boys and two parties) parties. I'm not sure how to email you (sorry to be dense) but I'd love a copy of the printables. If it's possible to send them to sheareremail@gmail.com I would be enormously grateful. Thank you

birthday party organizers said...

This is fantabulous !
I Want to be einstein too , But now to be steve jobs is great !

However I want to have good Birthday Party Decorations in Hyderabad

Kents said...

Thanks for the ideas and photos. Trying to throw a party for our 8 year old on a small budget. The trash bag lab coats are GREAT!

Crystal Johnson said...

I used your awesome printable for my son's 6th birthday party! Thank you so much for sharing the and your awesome ideas!