Monday, November 5, 2007

Magic Trees and Burdocks

Over the weekend Catherine and I stopped in at a little shop that had a bunch of cheap little toys for a dollar or two each. One of the toys was a Magic Tree, something that's apparently been around for awhile but I've never seen before.

You start with a cardboard tree, set it in water and watch as the water is absorbed (Oh! Good demonstration for a chemistry class, no?). 15 - 30 minutes later crystals start to grow on it. 5 - 6 hours later, it's covered! I googled and found a neat PDF by a David A. Katz that's a great help in understanding what's happening and what the crystals are.

From the PDF:

The blue-green colored powder consists of an alkaline salt, an ammonium salt, and water. A representative solution (but not the exact Magic® Tree formula)can be made from 6 tbsp. sodium chloride (not an alkaline salt), 1 tbsp. ammonia, 6 tbsp. water, and 6 tbsp. liquid laundry bluing (such as Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing ). In operation, the solution moves up the tree by capillary action. The tree is permeated by the solution, however,the branch tips, being tapered to a point, experience the most rapid rate of evaporation resulting in crystal formation. (NOTE: tbsp. = tablespoon)

We grew one at my parent's house and then bought more to bring home and to tuck into the neice and nephews Christmas gifts. Another one is growing as I type.

Since you're going to be buying the Evolution popup book I plugged a few days ago anyway you might as well order the Magic Tree as well.

Here's the handy link you'll want to use for the purchase - Magic Tree by Schylling

I'm pushy aren't I? But heck, I want some Amazon gift certificates. :)

Our neat moment for today was when the cat came in with a burdock nestled in the fur on his back.

We took it off, stuck it to each other and dissected it to get a good look at the seeds. Then we talked about how it stuck to everything and what that adaptation meant in terms of how burdocks spread. Neat stuff.


Anonymous said...

I am trying to email you my address and your mailbox is full! You need a gmail account! Of course if your mailbox is full you're probably not seeing this anyway... LOL.

yofed said...

That looks awesome! I never heard about it before!

Dawn said...

Yikes! Should be okay now Lorraine! Weird...

Dawn said...

Yofed - The kids LOVE it. It's the best bit of cheap fun I've found in a long time.

Becky said...

The Scholastic flyer has them around Christmastime. We've had one with a Christmas tree and one with a little house and evergreen tree, and crystals grow on everything. We took pictures from start to finish, and the kids had a ball!