September 12, 2009

Not Eating Her Curds and Whey

I'm notorious for biting off more than I can chew. My eyes are always too big. When it comes to Mexican food, Marie Calendar's Chocolate satan - I mean Satin Pie, or school plans. It's all the same. The science fair this year was one of those things I figured we could get to. But when they moved its date to September, I chickened out. I told the kids this Wednesday that we weren't going to participate because there was just not any time. Little did I know they were so determined to get their science on that they would do their project almost entirely without my help or direction! I'm beside myself (just like Little Miss Muffet) with excitement.

Morgan, in particular was not willing to back out. She researched and found this project on the internet on her OWN and talked her brother in to joining her. She even sneaked around to do it - because she was grounded from the computer - so she did her research in her grandma's room! You have to be pretty dedicated to school to risk getting in trouble to do it!

They are going to make mama look really good (which is great - and happens often when I don't deserve it). The cool thing about being a homeschool mom is that you get to take credit for a lot of learning that you don't initiate. My favorite line is "Yeah. I homeschool them." Sounds great after they look particularly amazing and I had nothing to do with it. Sometimes I wonder WHO is doing the homeschooling.

OK, so the photos... Tip top is Morgan's first experiment with milk. She's 'discovering through experimentation' that there really is glue inside milk. Those are her every-day ingredients. They picked an easy project because this was their first science fair. It's good to get your feet wet (and the floor if you have to - it can be mopped). The next photo down is her adding 1 tablespoon white vinegar to the 7 tablespoons of milk. How's that for easy ingredients?! I'm all over this kind of experiment, baby. I'm a cheap homeschooler. Did I say that out loud?

Then she waited for two minutes...

... and poured her gross-nasty-icky curdled milk in to the coffee filter that was nestled over the top of another glass. She's separating the curds from the whey. During the waiting process she was busy reading the encyclopedia about milk. Did you know that it takes 150-500 pounds of blood to pass through the udder of a cow to produce one pound of milk?

Nursing moms understand this. And unfortunately, we get to see a lot of human milk curd when baby spits up, too. Eeewwwww! Amazingly, stomach acid works a lot like vinegar in separating milk.

How about these interesting milk factoids taken from the New Book of Knowledge Encyclopedia 1976 (boy am I glad I kept that FREE old set - it has come in handy):

1. Eskimos drink reindeer milk.
2. Indians drink zebu and water buffalo milk.
3. Casein is the main protein in milk and is found no where else in nature.
4. Cream contains 5 to 10 times more fat than milk.
5. Curd is casein (80% of the protein in milk) - which is also an adhesive (what this experiment shows).
6. Casein has industrial uses: paint, wall paper paste, wool, and plastic to name a few.

7. The whey in milk has almost all of the milk sugars, minerals and vitamins and makes up 20% of the protein.
8. Lactose is not as sweet or easy to dissolve as table sugar and digests more slowly.
9. Drug companies sometimes use lactose to grow penicillin.
10. My husband is lactose intolerant. You don't want to be in the house if he has Alfredo Sauce.

Yep, the curds - or casein - is just like Elmer's Glue. [I guess that's why they have a cow on the front.] Works just as well. Now you know why your mama always told you to not drink milk when you have a sinus infection or cold. That stuff is as thick as glue. For reals. Casein causes you to create more mucous. Not good when you are drowning in snot.

Hey - I love milk. But there are times when you shouldn't drink it. One of those times is NOT when you have an Oreo in front of you. By all means, if there are cookies anywhere near - pour yourself a glass.

Just don't drink the stuff you create after this science experiment, K? Cuz that would be really gross.

After Morgan finished her part of her milky experiment (a few times for fun), Kaden did his part. He's a minimalist. He used the exact same ingredients and did his part ONCE. Then he went off to play because he isn't that interested in milk. I think he was only doing this experiment to please Morgan. He would rather be playing with bugs or rocks. Funny how my scientific child (who reads encyclopedias about insects, minerals, gems and rocks regularly) was not interested in the science fair half as much as the other kid - who would rather be drawing or writing.

Kaden poured the same amount of milk in to the first cup, the same amount of vinegar in to the first cup, and then STIRRED it. His job was just to separate the curds and whey to see if an acid would break up a colloid. That was his (and my) new word for the day. Milk is a colloid: a substance that doesn't settle because the particles are too tiny. Unlike sand that settles in water or pulp that floats in orange juice, the curds and whey naturally are so tiny that they look like one substance when mixed together.

Kaden made me promise not to do a breastfeeding demonstration at the science fair. I'm cool with that. We can stick to cow's milk this time.

We see more of that yucky stuff in the bowl up there on Viking's bibs than we want to.

I asked the children if they wanted a glass of milk after the project was complete and both of them looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe our grocery budget will be trimmed up with a few more kitchen science experiments? Naw... I'm sure that they'll break down and grab the jug when they realize it would mean giving up Captain Crunch and Nesquick. You just can't eat cereal without milk. Drinking chocolate milk without milk would be pretty difficult, too.

I'll share the photos of the fair later - we have to go to it after lunch today. I'm pretty sure they will do great since most everyone in our local co-op chickened out like I was going to... so they should be one project out of only 3-5 of them in the middle school category.

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JoAnn said...

I love your writing style in this post. You just crack me up. I especially like the part about taking credit for learning you had nothing to do with. I totally get that.

Melissa Stover said...

very cool!

Miss Rachel said...

Interesting! I tried making sure once... I guess that was MY science experiment, as it didn't work... LOL

Kara said...

Very neat. My kids are going to love trying this experiment. Hope you did great at the science fair!

Jen said...

Great detailed post about science experiments with what you have, and awesome that your dd found this on her own!!! Im going to tweet about it for ya, worth passing on for sure!

Joy said...

Loved reading about this science experiment! My son did this a couple of years ago for a science product. While he didn't do the same method, he used the same ingredients. His goal was to make picks for playing his mandolin and guitar. So wonderful to see an experiment work for children!

Twisted Cinderella said...

how cool and interesting!

Nikowa@KHA said...

So cool! :) I'm allergic to the protein in milk (not the lactose) so I guess it'd be the casein. :)

Deb said...

Cool and interesting! I will file that one away for the future.

Shannon said...

Kudos to your kids for taking the bull by the horns and gettin' it done!
Gosh, I haven't done much blog hopping lately, and I'm just now seeing your new design for the first time! I love it...puts a smile on my face. :)

Ms. Julie's Place said...

Thanks for this. We just tried it and added a trial with almond milk as well since I can't drink regular milk. I pretty much did the same thing except the curds looked more like little almond slivers!



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