I have something very special for you today. One of the coolest science experiments we have ever done… Color-Changing Lemonade. Made with a deliciously natural, beautifully floral ingredient that turns a frosty glass of lemonade from yellow to purple to pink. And makes it taste extra delicious too. Plus, turn this delicious drink into a fun activity with the help of Ada Twist, Scientist!
Ada Twist, Scientist
We got inspired to do a little science when Andrea Beatty, the author of Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect sent me her latest book, Ada Twist, Scientist. It’s the story of little Ada. Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. Not afraid of failure, Ada embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble! Learn more about the book here.
Illustrator David Robert’s drawings always capture that wonder of kids trying things for the first time. And persevering through challenges. And really got us thinking about those yucky smells. So we decided to do a much sweeter smelling project. Lemonade.
And because we love color-changing science, we added a really cool feature to that sweet and sour lemonade. A really cool color-changing effect. So go whip up a glass and then we’ll talk science.
Check out the lemonade in action!
What’s the Science Behind the Color Change?
There’s a very special ingredient in this lemonade. Butterfly pea flowers. Butterfly pea flowers contain a vivid blue pigment called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin has a unique capability to act as an indicator. Meaning it changes color as the pH changes. It appears bright blue at high (basic) pH’s and transitions to a vivid pink at low (acidic) pH’s. This is why you can turn your lemonade from yellow to purple to pink as you stir your butterfly tea into the drink. The flowers and tea are a more common ingredient in countries like Thailand where they like to serve the tea with honey and lemon.
While you’re sipping on your lemonade, have a little fun with the leftover tea. We played around with a lemon, the tea, and some baking soda. You can keep changing the color back and forth as you make it acidic with the lemon and basic with the baking soda.
Love Ada? Meet Rosie and Iggy too!
And once you stir up a glass of Ada’s Color Changing Lemonade, be sure to check out the Tinkering Station for Young Engineers inspired by Rosie Revere, Engineer. Or print out a free list of 100 Invitations to Build inspired by Iggy Peck, Architect.
More Hands-On Fun for Kids
Looking for some more STEAM inspiration that you can use right now? Instant gratification style? Check out STEAM Explorers!! The coolest creative experience for kids is here! It's a digital book of the month club filled with tons of fun stuff for the kids to do and learn. All engineer, teacher, and mom-approved. And most definitely KID APPROVED!
- A monthly digital magazine with cool themes that are fun to read
- Hands-on, exciting projects the kids will love.
- Science, tech, engineering, art, and math learning YOU’LL love.
- Delicious recipes the kids can make.
- Fun printables and games
In February we're having fun with spy-themed STEAM! The kids will love building a super-secret highlighter flashlight, making I Spy art, leaving their mark on sweet treats, and using science to catch a spy. You’ll love the helpful standards-based learning, printables, and tools that make STEAM exploration easy!
We’ve split the issue into four weekly themes:
- This issue has four weekly themes to inspire your kiddos:
- WEEK 1: HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT
- WEEK 2: KEEPING SECRETS
- WEEK 3: UNDERCOVER GADGETS
- WEEK 4: CATCH A SPY
- 1 butterfly pea flower tea bag or 1 tsp. loose flowers
- 1 cup water
- 4 cups lemonade
- 1 lemon optional
- 1 copy of Ada Twist Scientist
- Heat water to near boiling, add tea bag and let steep for 3-4 minutes or until tea is a deep blue color. Chill.
- Fill four glasses with ice. Top with one cup lemonade each.
- Serve with a small shot glass or beaker filled with 1/4 cup butterfly pea flower tea and a straw for stirring.
- Add the tea and watch the color change!