Waiting until the very last day of October to enjoy Halloween can make for a very long month. But to get in the spirit and prolong the fun, why not try some Halloween-themed STEAM activities in the lead up to the big day? Here’s a few to get you started. We’ve also included some of our favourite websites to explore for more ideas. Have fun and happy Halloween!
Hokey Pokey Halloween Treats
5 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp baking soda
Small pot / saucepan
Start with greasing some baking paper with butter, this will be where your honeycomb will go, then put aside. Add sugar and golden syrup into a pot and slowly heat. Make sure to take your time to avoid burning, and to be careful as it will get very hot. Once all the sugar is dissolved, turn up the heat and let it boil for two minutes without mixing. Now remove the pan from heat, get a fork ready for stirring, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and stir as hard as you can until it’s all mixed in. The baking soda which is basic or alkaline reacts with sugar that is acidic and creates carbon dioxide gas, which makes the bubbles and appears foamy. This type of acid and base reaction is called neutralisation. Now pour your hokey pokey out onto the baking paper, and let cool for half an hour or so. Once it’s cooled down and set, you can smash it up and dish it out – makes for a perfect Halloween treat.
1 Tbsp of psyllium husk powder
1 Cup of water
Flavour oil (adds scent)
Large microwave safe bowl
Grab your bowl and combine the psyllium husk and water, make sure to mix well to avoid any clumping. You can also add any food colouring at this time, a grimey green is a winner this Halloween. Now microwave the mixture until you see bubbles, should be about 3 – 4 minutes on high. Then set aside and let cool, during this time it will thicken. Once it’s back to room temperature it’s good to go. Psyllium husk is a dietary fibre supplement that loves binding to water molecules therefore creating a slimey mess called a mucilage. We don’t recommend eating the slime, but it is safe if children do put it in their mouths. Play around with colours and flavours and see what you can create. Store in zip lock bags in the fridge for up to a week.
Bubbling Bath Bombs
1 Cup baking soda
½ Cup citric acid
½ Cup cornflour
½ Cup Epsom Salt or fine sea salt
2½ Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp water
Food colouring or bath bomb soap dye
Bath bomb moulds (you can also use muffin tins, or small cake moulds)
Start by mixing the baking soda, citric acid, cornflour, and salt in a bowl, then whisk to make sure it’s all combined. Now mix the oil and water, as best as chemically possible, and slowly pour into the bowl, mixing as you go. Keep mixing until it resembles wet sand. Now’s also the time to add any colours and dyes, create Jack O’ Lanterns and use orange, or keep them white to later paint eyeballs. Now grab your moulds, generously fill both sides and firmly press together. Keep it together for a few minutes, then tap on each side to separate the mould from the mixture. You’ll need to let them dry overnight, but after that, you can have yourself a spooky spa or gift them for Halloween. To use your bombs, chuck them in warm water and watch them bubble away. The bubbles are due to carbon dioxide gas being formed from neutralisation of the acidic citric acid and basic baking soda. You also would have noticed that when the ingredients are mixed together, nothing happens, but in the bath, the bomb goes off, this is because water acts as a catalyst by helping dissolve the solids.
Glow In the Dark Lava Lamp
Clear bottle or jar
Vegetable oil, enough to almost fill bottle
Black light (optional, but will increase brightness)
Glowing water – requires highlighters (or another glowing liquid – glow in the dark acrylic paint, glowing gel)
First prepare the glow in the dark water. With a parent’s help, remove the ink stick from inside a highlighter pen. This may require cutting the highlighter pen in half. Once removed soak in a small cup of water. Once the water is a bright shade, you can dilute further if you’d like to increase the amount. If you’re using glow in the dark acrylic paint, dilute it with water so it’s a runny consistency.
Use the water mixture to fill your jar or bottle about a ¼ full. Next, add vegetable oil – leaving a few centimetres empty at the top. Then add your glitter. You’ll see the two liquids stay separated, this happens because water is a polar molecule, and oil is non-polar. This means that the two liquids repel each other and can’t mix. And because oil is less dense than water, it will always stay afloat on the surface, which is why we need seltzer – to get it bubbling. Break up a tablet of seltzer, add it to the oil / water, and put on the lid. Give the bottle a little shake and watch the magic. The seltzer reacts with water and produces carbon dioxide gas, these are the bubbles you’ll see moving around your lava lamp, so to recharge your lava lamp you can add more seltzer.
Don’t forget to check out our Halloween craft ideas to make your own Spoon Bats and Fluffy Slime!
Some of our favourite websites to check out for more STEAM-powered fun are littlebinsforlittlehands.com and www.steampoweredfamily.com. And don’t forget leftbraincraftbrain.com – you can download their FREE 31 Days of Halloween STEAM Challenge Cards and give their experiments a go. And if you’re after something with a little more of a design and engineering focus, check out Little Bins Little Hands for more activities!