OK Go’s The Writing’s on the Wall and Optical Illusions

Have you seen the new OK Go video, The Writing’s On the Wall? Holy Smokes, people — if MC Escher were alive today, this is the sort of thing he would have come up with.

OK Go's super amazing music video, The Writing's on the Wall, and the art of Optical Illusions. The post includes some DIY optical illusion activities to try after watching the video  - TinkerLab

All of OK Go’s videos are impossibly imaginative, and they somehow seemed to have trumped their best work. See for yourself…

From what I’ve read, they created this in just one take! Seriously. Of course there were lots of takes that didn’t work out (50 takes preceded this one). This behind-the-scenes Mashable interview with OK Go talks a little bit about that and shares some cool insights on how it all came together:

Of course my heart flutters for geeky art + science madness like this, but I also really like the song. For more, this Rolling Stone article is worth checking out.

One of my favorite things about optical illusions like this is the seamless blend of art and science. Optical illusions wouldn’t exist without the physics of science and the creativity of art. When I watch this video, I also think of the the shadow work of Tim Noble and Sue Webster. This is Colossal reviewed the video and they cite influences such as the large-scale perspective-skewing installations of Bernard Pras, geometric projections of Felice Varini, and the photographic trick-of-the-eye masterpieces by Bela Borsodi. If you like this stuff, you’ll want to check out this links.

Talk about the Video with Kids

Whenever I see cool things like this, I often consider how I could introduce this to my kids. So, here’s a fun project for you: Watch this video with your child and then talk about what you saw. Or, try this with a friend or on your own. Optical illusions are for everyone, after all.

Some guiding questions:

  1. Which of the optical illusions surprised you? Why?
  2. Which illusion did you like the best? Why?
  3. Which illusion is still puzzling you? At this point, you can go back to the video and watch that part to try to figure it out.
  4. What other questions could you ask?

Following this discussion, make some of your own optical illusions. Some ideas follow:

Optical Illusion Activities

  • Check out these classic optical illusions via Optics for Kids, and figure out how they work.
  • Make a fish-in-a-tank optical illusion from Science Sparks
  • Try this fun bending finger trick. The short and fun video shows you how. From Julian’s Magician School, via YouTube
  • Draw your own hand in 3-D using just a pencil, paper, and markers. This video from Handimania is great!
  • Try to set up your own photographic trick-of-the-eye like Bela Borsodi’s (the video on this page is so worth watching — just to see what’s possible)
  • What else could you do? Let us know in a comment!

Cool Science Experiments | Make Curds and Whey

Are you looking for cool science experiments? Here’s a neat science demonstration for all the concoction-lovers out there: How to Separate Curds from Whey.

With just two ingredients, it’s incredibly simple and a great introduction to how some cheeses are made. Furthermore, you could make this a literary adventure by bringing this popular nursery rhyme to life: Little Miss Muffet, who sat on her tuffet while eating her curds and whey.

Science Demonstration: How to Make Curds and Whey  | TinkerLab

For the past few weeks the girls and I (now ages 3.5 and almost 6) have been making weekly trips to the library. We look forward the familiar walk past the duck pond and will occasionally dilly dally over popsicles on a hot afternoon.

Our most common ritual is to scan all of last week’s books in (the library is remarkably high tech!) and then begin our quest for 10 new books each. My three-year old inevitably grabs all of the leader books from the seasonal shelf while my older daughter bee-lines for the Rainbow Magic books. After this enthusiastic start, we’ll rally toward the picture book section for some serendipitous finds. Every week is a reading adventure.

Last week I made a little detour toward the kids’ science section and picked up Super Science Concoctions. Does this sound like me, or what? One of the chapters of my new book is even called Concoctions! So, yeah, I had to have it.

The book is full of so many cool science experiments, and I wanted to start with this simple science demonstration. While it’s a demonstration, meaning that it show how a phenomena happens, it could easily be turned into an experiment.

I’ll share some science experiment suggestions with you at the end of this post.

Supplies: Curds and Whey Science Demonstration

  1. Milk- 1/2 cup
  2. Vinegar – 1 tablespoon
  3. Small pot
  4. Strainer
  5. Bowl/s

Science Demonstration: How to Make Curds and Whey  | TinkerLab

How to Make Curds and Whey

  1. Pour milk and vinegar into a small pot and cook on a medium heat until the curds (thick, cottage cheese looking substance) floats to the top of the pot and separates from the whey (thin liquid). Watch the pot closely as this shouldn’t take long.
  2. Strain the curds and whey through a strainer over a bowl
  3. Congratulations! You’ve now made curds and whey!

Science Demonstration: How to Make Curds and Whey  | TinkerLab

The Science bit

Milk is a colloid, meaning that the different particles in it, namely curds (casein) and whey (liquid), blend together smoothly and won’t separate on their own. However, when you combine the casein (protein) of the milk with the acid of vinegar, it curdles the milk and the casein turns into chunky curds because it can’t mix with vinegar.

More Things to do with Curds and Whey

  • Save the whey for cooking if you’d like. I wasn’t brave enough to, but here are some things to make with sour whey.
  • Gather the curds in your hand, squeeze them together, and rinse them.
  • Form a little ball. The book suggested squeezing the curds into a sculptural shape, but ours just wouldn’t comply. A ball was about all we could do.
  • Marvel at the wonder of separating curds and whey.
  • Taste your curds. How are they? Add some salt and see what you think now.
  • Once dry, paint your curd ball
  • Check out this easy recipe for making your own cheese from milk and vinegar!

Science Demonstration: How to Make Curds and Whey  | TinkerLab

Cool Curds and Whey Science Experiments

  1. Change the quantities of vinegar or milk
  2. Use different kinds of vinegar
  3. Replace vinegar with another acid such as lemon juice
  4. Use a different kind of milk. Compare the results from whole milk, skim milk, and heavy cream. And what about soy milk?
  5. Cook the concoction in the oven
  6. What else could you try? Make a graph to compare your results.

Science Fair Project Ideas

Are you in the market for some science fair project ideas? Well, hopefully this post will have you covered.

These twelve science experiments encourage children to test, tinker with, experiment, hypothesize, and evaluate various properties and phenomena.

Science Fair Project Supplies

Most of our favorite science experiments involve everyday, household supplies because they’re easy to come by and relatively safe for children to use. You’ll see that these science fair project ideas use materials like gummy bears, dish soap, food coloring, chocolate syrup, sand, lemons, eggs, celery, oil, Alka Seltzer, vinegar, plastic bags, pencils, salt, cotton balls, seeds, and candy.

Links to each of the science fair projects can be found below the block of photos.

Science Fair Project Ideas | TinkerLab

Growing Gummy Bear Experiment, TinkerLab

Elephant Toothpaste, Preschool Powel Packets

Kitchen Science: What Will Freeze First?, No Time for Flash Cards

Make Magic Sand, Paging Fun Mums

science fair project ideas for kids

Sink or Float Lemons, One Perfect Day

Crystal Egg Geodes, TinkerLab

Make a Lava Lamp, Hands on as we Grow

Colorful Celery Experiment and Capillary Action, TinkerLab

science fair project ideas

Melting Ice Experiment, The Chaos and the Clutter

Magical Plastic Bag Experiment, TinkerLab

Grow Beans on Cotton Balls, The Imagination Tree

Dissolving Peeps Experiment, Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas

Bonus: 10 Tips for a Fab Science Fair Board

10 Tips for a Great Science Fair Board | TinkerLab

Thanks to Handmade Kids Art for the excellent article on how to create a successful science fair board: 10 Tips for a Rockstar Science Fair Board

Which of these have you tried?

If you’ve tried any of these science fair project ideas, would you leave a quick comment? I know that our other readers would love hear about your experiences.

And, if you have a favorite science fair project that’s not listed here, will you share it in a comment? We’d love to make this a valuable resource for our readers like you!

Did you enjoy this post?

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12 Science Fair Project Ideas | TinkerLab


How to set up a Magic Potion Lab (with 3 Simple Tips)

Science Week articles on No Time for Flashcards

When friends and readers talk to me about Tinkerlab, they almost always ask me about science projects. And with that, process-based experiments like the following magic potion lab inevitably come up. Today I’m over on one of my favorite blogs for childhood projects, No Time for Flash Cards, talking about one of my 3-year old’s most requested activities.

Won’t you pop over and pay us a visit? 

How to set up a magic potion lab

For more creative science experiments that encourage children to think for themselves and develop critical thinking skills, click on over here for all of our posts, and sign up for the Tinkerlab newsletter.


Celery Science Experiment

How to set up a simple Scientific Experiment with Celery and Food Coloring :: Tinkerlab.comWhile I’m an art educator by trade, having small people pulling at my pants has turned me into a mini-alchemist who’s suddenly found herself reading books to her kids about Galileo (The Magic Schoolbus and the Science Fair Expedition) and brewing all sorts of concoctions in our kitchen (vinegar and baking soda, anyone?).

The celery science experiment is easy to achieve with basic kitchen materials and it’s embedded with all sorts of opportunities for introducing the scientific method (in short: asking scientific questions, making predictions, and conducting an experiment).


science food coloring celery experiment


  • Celery with leafy tops
  • Clear glasses
  • Water
  • Food coloring

The Celery Science Experiment

N poured water into three glasses. about 3/4 cup in each.

Then she added a few drops of food coloring — 5-8 drops, but who’s counting! — into the glasses and stirred with a piece of celery, which was left in the glass. And then we talked about what might happen if we left the celery in the colored water for a while.

science food coloring celery experiment

We oohed and ahhed over the lava-lamp effect of the food coloring as it hit the water.

The Scientific Method: Make Predictions

We started off with red, yellow, and green, but N really wanted to mix colors and added blue and red to the green water (far right). We revisited our earlier discussion and made predictions about how the celery might change.

While waiting for something to happen, I chopped the celery heart off the bottom of the stalk and set up a printing activity.

N humored me by making a few prints and then asked if she could play with colored water. Totally!

While I only have one photo of this, it was probably the highlight of the afternoon.

capillary action

When we checked the celery a couple hours later, this is what it looked like. I put a leafy top next to it so you can see how subtle the change is. Hmmm. While I could see the change, I wasn’t sure it would make a big impact on my daughter. And then I realized that I should have just put the leafy parts in the water for a more dramatic result. Done!

A few hours later the blue/green had the most pronounced shift, but the red and yellow were visibly different too.

capillary action

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the red and blue-green died celery tops, about 16 hours after the stalks had been sitting in the water. N seemed to appreciate the difference, but wasn’t nearly as impressed as her dad and I were.

How the Celery Science Experiment Works

Plants need water to survive and they draw water up from their roots through their capillaries. The capillaries are hollow and act a lot like a straw. Adding color to the water helps us visualize this usually invisible process.

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TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids