Friday, October 29, 2010

Review: Buckets-O-Fun

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I recently had the chance to investigate a product called Yuck!  Samples of four different types of Yuck were sent to me (you can get yours by going to the website and requesting a sample) by Buckets-o-Fun.  The types are Chunky Yunk, Saucy Yuck, Snowy Yuck, and Sticky Yuck.

Also included was a brief pamphlet (very brief) about how to use these products to study science.

As the science guide indicates, Yuck is a polymer that absorbs water (lots of water!)  and if you follow the suggestions in the pamphlet, you are giving your children some decent experience with the first step in the scientific method: observation.

My children, however, were disappointed that they weren't suggesting anything that went beyond that -- you, know, like predicting, testing, refining a hypothesis, etc.  So, we started brainstorming ways that WE could use Yuck in our home.

What we ended up doing was cutting up a bunch of 2 liter bottles and using the bottom portion to mix up our Yuck.  We carefully measured 1/2 teaspoon of yuck into eight different bottles, labeling them with index cards.  Each kind of Yuck had two bottles.  We put the kettle on to boil, and ran the tap to get good, cold water.  Then we added 1/3 cup of near-boiling water to half the bottles and 1/3 cup of really cold water to the other half.

Thomas, my 9 year old, is the one who came up with that idea.  He expected that the water molecules in the boiling water, which would be moving around much faster than the water molecules in the cold water, would collide with the Yuck molecules much more often, and thus the Yuck would absorb hot water faster than cold.

The kids also predicted which kind of Yuck would absorb water faster based on the size of the Yuck particles.  Their assumption was that the chunky yuck would be the slowest to absorb, and the other three kinds would all absorb much faster.  Connor decided that the Yuck molecules inside of the Chunky Yuck would take awhile to come in contact with water molecules at all.

The results were interesting.  The Snowy Yuck combined instantaneously with the hot water, and quickly with the cold water.  The Sticky Yuck took the longest, which was totally unexpected.  In every case, hot water was absorbed faster than cold.

Snowy yuck within seconds of adding hot water.  It looked like snow almost immediately.  Very HOT snow.  Interesting stuff.
Snowy Yuck after about a minute with cold water.  It absorbed water pretty quickly, but it was another minute or so before it looked like snow.

As a further experiment, we are adding potting soil to each type of Yuck, plus creating a Yuck-less bottle as well, and we will be planting a couple of lettuce plants (from a germination experiment Connor was doing) in each.  Since we live in such a desert-like climate, we are interested in seeing if adding Yuck to the soil will improve plant health.  We expect that at least the Chunky and Snowy Yuck will do significantly better, but we aren't sure about the Sticky or Saucy Yuck.  The concern is that there may not be enough air getting at the roots in those mixtures.  I'll try to remember to post our results in a month or so!

Overall, it has been fun to design our own science experiment(s), and I'm glad we had that opportunity.  And if using Yuck as a soil amendment does help us with our gardening, I can see purchasing some, and possibly using it in other play and experimental ways too. 

If you are intrigued, you can visit Buckets-o-Fun.  A pound of Yuck sells for $16-20 depending on the type, and based on our results, that will clearly result in a LOT once it is hydrated!

You can check out what my fellow crew-mates have to say about the Yuck at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a sample of Yuck products.  This does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.


Heidi said...

What fun making this into a science experiment. Sounds like you've got some science-oriented kids! :)

Debra said...

LOL, yeah, science-oriented. You think?

My kids will turn almost anything into a science experiment, and they are rarely content to do it the way it was described. "But what would happen if...?" seems to sum up my life sometimes.

Tess said...

As a play thing, Yuck has zero appeal to me but your review makes Yuck very appealing for the potential science projects a home school family could do! Looking forward to reading the results of the potting soil experiment.

i cant decide said...

I didn't even think to try hydrating with hot vs. cold water. Great idea!