For a complete introduction and to get to know each Fuddlebrook story/concept, work your way across the main menu bar above. Have fun exploring, and please contact us with any questions you may have!
But that's not all. Check out the introductory video that explains why we created the Fuddlebrook School Science Series.
Try the Quirkles "naughty or nice" tests with a study of acids and bases. Here' are two activities that teach a science lesson, while having a lot of fun during the holidays!
Reward that good Thanksgiving dinner behavior with this fun science activity that teaches a lesson about friction.
Do you need some activities for home or the classroom to keep the learning going these last few days of school or over the winter break? With a little imagination, a story with a holiday twist, and a science activity, you’re sure to have the makings for a fun, memorable, and educational event.
Here are some ideas from our two series, the Quirkles® and Fuddlebrook School® Science series to help you become the hit of the holidays. In the Fuddlebrook series, use Herman’s Rocket Launch (from The Case of the Vanishing Moon) and pretend you’re watching the reindeer fly across the sky pulling Santa’s sleigh. Or, watch the “elves” on our video catapult ornaments on to the Christmas tree (Freddie’s Marshmallow Launch from Freddie’s Dance Lesson). If you need more help visualizing how to make your catapult, check out our blog post that explains it in more detail.
But that’s not all. From the Quirkles Pressure Pete, try Santa Down the Chimney aka Pressure Pete’s Vacuum, or a variation we show on our video, the egg in a bottle. Explain that Santa’s gained a little weight this year (maybe too much Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie???) and you’re going to have to figure out a way to help him down the chimney.
Finally, an inexpensive container of FLARP!® Noise Putty makes for a fun relay game (and tons of laughs) plus a lesson on polymers that ties to Zany Science Zeke. See how much fun this can be as we demonstrate on this month’s video.
These are just a few ways to turn everyday science into holiday science. You’re really only limited by your own imagination. Tell a story and have fun! On a serious note, however, make sure to take time to explain the science behind these activities. Don’t overlook a teachable moment!
Want more ideas? Check out all our videos on YouTube for more than 100 activities and variations of many of our experiments. And from all of us to you, we wish you the brightest and best of the holiday season!
At Thanksgiving time, we’re pretty sure the Fuddlebrook gang, like many of us, will gather round the table for their Thanksgiving feast. To help you prepare your dinner for friends and family we offer some Thanksgiving food science food facts, some lesser known Thanksgiving trivia, and some science entertainment too!
Want your turkey to be nice and golden? The golden brown color and roasted flavor of a turkey are from sugars and proteins reacting together, according to Sara Risch, an expert in food science. A turkey browns faster when its surface is exposed to dry air. To reduce the amount of browning, limit the amount of sugar and protein — or cover food with foil, which slows down the rate of browning by keeping the air moist.
Perfect gravy? Although both flour and cornstarch owe their thickening powers to starch, cornstarch is pure starch, while flour contains starch plus protein. Protein takes up volume but contributes little to the thickening power of flour. Because of this, you need about twice as much flour as cornstarch to thicken a sauce.
That means flour could be more likely to add an undesirable pasty flavor. While pure starch becomes transparent as it swells with liquid, the protein in flour reflects light, making a sauce look cloudy. Cloudy, velvet-textured gravy can be delicious, but cornstarch is used more often to thicken fruit pie fillings, creating transparency around the fruit.
Healthy pies? Consider filling your holiday pies with fresh berries, which can significantly reduce the buildup of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, a culprit that contributes to heart disease and stroke. According to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, blackberries have the highest LDL inhibitory effect, followed by red raspberries, sweet cherries, blueberries, and strawberries.
And now for the mashed potatoes. There are more than 200 species of potatoes, but for cooking purposes they can be split into two general categories. The more delicate "floury" or "mealy" potatoes, such as Idaho or russet, have more starch granules in their cells. When heated, they combine with water molecules, and the cells expand and separate, making for fluffier spuds. "Waxy" varieties, such as new potatoes, have cells that stick together and stay firm and dense when cooked. They make a creamier mash.
The fluffy but fragile granules of the floury type of potato are best separated using a food mill or gentle mashing, and their surface area can absorb a good amount of cream, butter, or milk. The waxy type can take more of a beating, and less add-ins. They work best for rough-mashed, country-style potatoes.
So now that dinner is on the table, turn your attention to fun conversation. Watch our video of fun and perhaps lesser known Thanksgiving facts. And for the grand finale? After the table is cleared, hold on to your butter knife and spoon for some science activities that teach friction and Newton’s First Law of Motion. The Fuddlebrook Magic Money Stack from the book, The Sled Race, is our experiment feature this month and provides a lot of entertainment using just nickels and your butter knife. Finally borrow our activity from our sister series The Quirkles, Friction Fred’s Magic Spoon, using a spoon and your nose to demonstrate friction in an unusual way.
So there you have it. Enjoy a great meal, conversation, and a little science too. And from the whole Fuddlebrook gang, Happy Thanksgiving!
This new series marvelously succeeds in introducing young students to inquiry-based, experiential learning of scientific concepts that are age-appropriate. Moreover, students have the opportunity to explore story-based scientific concepts further through hands-on investigations.
--Teresa, Biology Ph.D; former elementary teacher, Springfield, MO
The thing I love most about the Fuddlebrook series is the connection aspect. Not only have the creators connected literacy and science, they have also provided opportunity for exploration of all areas of life. The dispositions and traits of the characters are consistent throughout the books and lead to discussions about friendship, bullying, loyalty, honesty, and humility. Fuddlebrook is "teaching the whole child by connecting to life."
--Carolyn, First Grade Teacher, Ozark, MO