Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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SCIENCE ACTIVITIES: The Armadillo Indicator | Construction Challenge Activity | Exploratory Walk | More Science Activities
MATH ACTIVITIES: The Outline of Things | Fractional Parts the "Tan" Way | Building Viewpoints | More Math Activities

This science activity is from the PRISM Parent Outreach Kit workbook.
You are about to discover how different things react with each other.
To find out about these things you will use a chemical indicator (grape juice soaked into a paper armadillo). An indicator shows or points out something, for example; a smile indicates happiness; a thermometer measures the temperature; dark clouds indicate that it may rain. A change in color indicates indicates a chemical change.

This is a good activity to do with children and parents in groups of four. Have a science day at your house and invite over some friends to do this activity with your children!.

paper cup with 1/4 cup
grape juice concentrate (undiluted)

One sheet white drawing or
construction paper or paper towel

pencil or crayon


baking soda
(small amount in paper cup)

(small amount in paper cup)

three plastic coated paper bowls

three plastic teaspoons

cotton swabs

paper towels

container of water





In this activity... your children will dip paper armadillo's into different solutions to see chemical change. To start, print out the following sheets:
Indicator Armadillo Data Sheet
The Indicator Armadillo

Assign each person in the group one of the roles below. Depending on the ages of the children in your group, a parent or leader can decide which jobs go to whom.

The Cutter/Questioner:

  1. traces the armadillos on the handout onto drawing paper using a pencil or crayon
  2. labels each with a number 1 through 4 on their tails
  3. cuts out the armadillos from The Indicator Armadillo with the scissors
  4. asks questions of the group to predict what will happen in the experiment.

    Here are some ideas for questions:
    "What do you think will happen when Armadillo 1 is dipped into the grape juice solution?"

The Mixer/Pourer:

  1. fills one paper bowl half full of water
  2. adds 2 teaspoons baking soda to the water and stirs
  3. fills a second bowl half full of vinegar
  4. adds 1/4 cup water in the third bowl, then adds 1/4 cup grape juice concentrate and stirs

The Recorder:

  1. labels the first bowl "baking soda," the second bowl "vinegar," and the third bowl "grape juice"
  2. records the group's findings on the Indicator Armadillo Data Sheet

The Dipper:

  1. everyone in the group shares this role

    Follow the Indicator Armadillo Data Sheet to guide you through the activity. Here are some things you might see and hear as your group begins its exploration.

    • Questioner: says "What do you think will happen when Armadillo 1 is dipped into the grape juice solution? Let's make a prediction."
    • Recorder: records the groups predictions on the Data Sheet
    • First Dipper: holds Armadillo 1 by the tail and dips it into the grape juice bowl; lets the extra juice drip in the bowl
    • Recorder: Records the color of the Armadillo on the Data Sheet
    Continue your exploration using the Indicator Armadillo Data Sheet as a guide to your activities. Remember, you may have your own ideas for investigations that are just as good—even better—than the ones suggested here. Have fun!

Did you know...
  • We can use indicators to tell us whether a substance is an acid, a base, or a neutral. Understanding acids and bases is important to many scientists and other people in their work. Because many indicators occur naturally and the color changes are interesting and often beautiful, indicator-acid-base activities such as this one are a good way to introduce chemistry to children and parents.

  • There are substances scientists call "acids" and substances that are called "bases." There are also substances that are neutral—not acids or bases. Pure water is an example of a neutral substance. Vinegar, rain, lake water in some places, and fruit juices such as orange and lemon juice are weak acids. Baking soda in water, and some shampoos, detergents are weak bases. There are also strong acids that must be handled carefully using safety precautions and not by children.

  • Acids and bases can neutralize each other

  • Although this was a science activity, it did involve some math skills. The math skills involved were measuring, remembering sequence and recording data.

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