In the first 30 seconds of episode 1 of Emily’s Wonder Lab, Emily, our gracious scientist/host, begins by posing the question: “Have you ever wondered what makes things glow?” My 4-year-old daughter perked up and yelled back, “YES!” Emily had gotten her attention, a feat in and of itself.
I was already impressed.
My 4-year-old wants to be an astronaut/paleontologist/ninja/scientist when she grows up. Obviously, that means she will need a lot of STEAM education if she’s ever going to achieve the type of career path that would afford me the type of bragging rights every parent dreams of. However, I haven’t been doing the best job during these past six months of quarantine and homeschooling with designing an experiential education for her outside of basic cooking chemistry. I’m definitely not a scientist, so I’m not sure how well my non-measuring techniques actually go over.
Dramatic, but true.
At least now there’s Emily’s Wonder Lab to take some of the pressure off having to search online for something viable to try at home. The rest of the first episode unfolds with Emily inviting her diverse group of “little scientists”—who probably range in age from eight to 10—to explore all things fluorescent and UV light as they combine art with science and make paint that glows. The ingredients used are the insides of highlighters, water, and cornstarch, and we are privy to watching them create their paint under UV light, which makes for cool optics as they dance around and have fun. The children are delighted as they play with mixing colors, and Emily encourages them to come up with their own hypotheses and solutions during trial and error while also breaking down very science-y tidbits along the way.
She uses ping-pong balls to demonstrate how atom lights bounce, breaks down the spectrum of colors on a rainbow and how that relates to UV light, and more. In later episodes, she discusses cross-linking polymers (science-speak for how slime works), non-Newtonian fluids, and how acids and bases react with each other.
By the end of the first 13-minute episode (all of the episodes are under 15 minutes), my daughter was still in, and I actually felt capable of leading a lot of these experiments at home. Many of Emily’s experiments either take place in her lab or outdoors. Some of them are messy, which is fun for kids, but they all contain items you probably already have at home or can easily get.
You might have to scale down in some instances, but it’s all doable, and you will have at least two experiments per episode to choose from. The experiment I tried with my little astronaut/paleontologist/ninja/scientist thus far was making unicorn slime (from episode 5) with glue, borax, and food coloring.
We had a hit, and my little scientist fell right in line with Emily’s mantra: “Stay curious and keep exploring.”
We’re not sure what’s next, but bowling with air sounds like a lot of fun.