Not only are cranberries good to eat (and super healthy), but also a tool that can be used to teach science lessons. This month we offer four activities with either a Thanksgiving twist or a way to release some energy (while learning about important science concepts) after the big meal.
What’s Thanksgiving without some sort of cranberry dish? Nutritionally power packed, cranberries are one super food you’ll want to include on your holiday table! Today Americans consume 400 million pounds of this “native to North America” fruit each year.
Native Americans recognized the nutritional properties of the berry far before science proved them to be true. They created sauces and meat cakes called “pemmican” out of the berry, and used it medicinally to stop bleeding and to help cure blood poisoning. The nutritional properties of the cranberry were capitalized on during international voyages at sea also when sailors would eat the red berries to keep scurvy at bay. Later it was determined that prevention was possible due to the fruit’s high Vitamin C content.
So what about the science lessons? Read the Quirkles® book Density Dan, then see if cranberries (not dried) will float in water. You’ll simply need two or three berries and a cup of water. What happens? How can something “solid” float? Cut open the berry and see if the inside structure provides some insights.
Or, how about making cranberries “dance?” Offer a Thanksgiving variation of the activity we share in Density Dan called Density Dan’s Dancing Raisins. You’ll need a colorless soda or carbonated water, a clear drinking glass, and some dried cranberries.
When the cranberries interact with the bubbles (carbon dioxide gas) in the soda, they will be carried up to the top. When the bubbles pop and release the carbon dioxide, the cranberries drop down. This makes it seem like they are “dancing.”
So now the big meal is over and it’s time to go outside for a little fresh air. If it’s not too cold, try Mary Motion’s Spinning Bucket. Check out our video where young scientist, Chloe, demonstrates centripetal force. If you do it right, you’ll get some exercise and you won’t take a shower!
Finally go to our Fuddlebrook webpage to see our friction activity called the Fuddlebrook Magic Money Stack. Several nickels and a butter knife will keep kids engaged for a long time! This is a fun way to learn about friction, release some energy, and have fun, too!