How to Make Bendy Bones

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If you ask most kids what bones are made of, they would quickly answer “calcium!” Though it’s not incorrect, years of us telling them to drink their milk for strong bones has hidden an amazing feature of nature, biomineralization by proteins. Calcium is only half the story of bones. Though the semi-crystalline mineral that contains calcium, oxygen, hydrogen, and phosphorus, called hydroxyapatite, provides strength and rigidity, our bones also need to be elastic to help absorb shock. This is where proteins come in. Your bones are made of living tissue that spew out networks of protein that trap and crystallize the calcium in your body. Together they form the strong, resilient biomaterial we know as bones.

You can feel the flexibility of the protein network for yourself by reacting and dissolving the hydroxyapatite from the bones in vinegar. What’s left are entertaining, wiggly bones the kids will love to play with (except my daughter, who was too grossed out and didn’t want to touch them which is why all these pictures are of my hands ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ).

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Maple Syrup: a sweet, delicious teacher of science for kids

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Springtime in rural Vermont is magical. It’s not just the melting snow with rivers of mud, it’s also magical because it’s maple syrup season. For a brief period each year the sap really flows and those lucky enough to have sugar maples can harvest the sweet nectar and boil it down into the delicious breakfast treat. For our budding family, “sugaring” has become a great outdoor adventure that helps combine some of the things we love: nature, science, and eating. Read on to learn how you can make your own maple syrup at home, and for ways you can use the experience to teach some science to your kids.

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Why does milk foam? The science behind your latte.

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Oh it’s fall in the Northeast again- the perfect time to switch from iced coffees to silky lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos. When I was younger, I remember wishing there was something warm that tasted as good and had a mouth feel as good as ice cream. Luckily, I’ve pretty much lost my sweet tooth and these coffee drinks have fulfilled that wish. Though espresso alone is one of the most delicious things on Earth, add some foamed milk and those tiny velvety bubbles transform it into perfection.

I was making a latte for myself one morning and my daughter asked if I could froth her milk, too. What a great idea, I thought! So these first few chilly mornings of the fall, we’ve been cuddling up and sharing some warm, silky drinks together. I’ve included some coffee-free recipe ideas for you to try with your little ones, too. It’s a great way to bond and also explain a little science. So, what is special about milk that allows it to foam?

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