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Adding Science & Art to Your Homeschool Day – Part I

We love science and art around here, so it’s easy for us to add them into our day. This was by far the best project we’ve done that incorporated them both into an entire afternoon’s worth of fun.

The morning started with an episode of Beakman’s World(available on Netflix), where Beakman and his crew made glue from milk. The twins like to watch Beakman during breakfast, and always get some crazy idea from the show. This morning was no exception! As they excitedly wrote down all the ingredients and instructions for making glue from milk, they asked if we could do this. A little backwards on the order of things around here, but hey, we get things done!

So, for our trip to the store, we had our list:

  • 2 Cups nonfat milk
  • 6 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup water
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda

You’ll also need a saucepan, two bowls and a strainer of some sort.

Step 1: Add the milk to a saucepan, and turn on a low heat. Add the vinegar, stir constantly and watch it separate into “curds and whey”.

Step 2: Remove from heat and strain. You’ll have one bowl with the liquid “whey”, and the strainer will be full of chunky curds.

Step 3: Plop the chunky stuff in the other bowl, add 1/2 cup water and stir. Then add the baking soda and don’t stop stirring!

With the pictures below, I forgot to get an image of the curds, but they look a lot like small-curd cottage cheese.

It will foam up, and is a fun process to watch. Once you’ve stirred the chunky stuff into the water and baking soda, the chunks will be gone, and you’ll have a nice glue. This glue is fantastic for art projects, but it needs a significant amount of time to dry. Plan on gluing everything, then letting it sit for a couple hours.

A little about this process:

Milk is made up of lots of minerals and vitamins, but also contains a couple of key proteins, among them casein and whey. The vinegar causes the proteins to separate into curds and whey. The casein clumps together and the whey is the yellowish liquid left over. Casein makes up about 80% of the protein content in milk.

When you add the baking soda, it neutralizes the acid from the vinegar, and the casein can return to a more liquid state, casein glue is incredibly strong, and has been used in woodworking for a hundreds of years.

Next: Adding Science & Art to Your Homeschool Day – Part II