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Science Explains Why the Cinnamon Challenge Wins

Science Explains Why the Cinnamon Challenge Wins


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SciShow explains why the Cinnamon Challenge is basically unbeatable

We often wonder what is so funny about people trying and failing to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon on YouTube (and yes, we've sometimes thought about trying it). But now, you'll never get us to take on the Cinnamon Challenge... because it's IMPOSSIBLE.

Hank Green of SciShow explains in the following video that cinnamon is pretty much waterproof, and your mouth is never supposed to be without water (hence the saliva), and when water and waterproof things combine, it doesn't look pretty.

In fact, the cinnamon challenge is "actually pretty dangerous." Yikes. You could choke or scar your lung tissue, and also just look like a complete fool on the Internet. But it apparently isn't stopping many people; the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 51 calls in 2011 involving teens and cinnamon, which jumped up to 139 calls in 2012. Kids, stop trying to eat cinnamon and just enjoy your churros.


Science Explains the Unexpected Reasons Why Dogs Need to Be Walked

So why do we need to walk our dogs? And how much is enough?

Some people assume that a big backyard gives dogs enough exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

But dogs need to be walked for several reasons. As well as exercise, being walked lets them socialize with other dogs, explore the tantalizing smells beyond their home, and play with their preferred playmates. Dogs are opportunists and optimists, which is why so many turn themselves inside out with joy at the prospect of a romp around the park.

Walks also allow dogs to spend time with their human social group. We shouldn’t underestimate the value of one-on-one attention between owners and their dogs. People who are strongly bonded with their dogs are most likely to exercise them. Dogs, in turn, act as catalysts for humans to engage with others in their community.

Without enough exercise dogs can develop physical problems, such as muscular, cardiovascular, or metabolic diseases, and behavioral problems that are manifestations of frustration and increased irritability.

How Much Walking Is Enough?

Clearly, the exact amount of exercise time your dog needs will vary according to its age, breed, and size. A ten-year study in Perth found that people may not walk their dogs as much if the dog is sick, older, or a smaller breed. Yet, all dogs need some time out of the house and yard every day.

As part of Pawgust, Guide Dogs Australia is encouraging owners to take their dogs for two 30-minute walks a day — one in the morning and one in the evening. If this seems too demanding for the humans in your dog’s world, it may be worth checking that everyone in your household is engaged in dog-walking, so that the opportunity can be shared.

Fortunately, dogs don’t always need extremely long walks. If your dog has health issues or is elderly, just 20 minutes out of the house can do wonders.

If you have particular worries about your dogs, or they have previously been very inactive, it’s worth consulting with your veterinarian to create an exercise plan. Remember that, like humans, dogs need to warm up and warm down. Walking dogs to the park can be enough to get their blood moving before a vigorous game of fetch.

Some Barriers to Walking

There are rare dogs that don’t seem to enjoy themselves when out on a leash. These are most commonly dogs that were not adequately socialized as pups. Others have learned that there is little they can do to assert themselves while on the leash and, as such, are examples of learned helplessness.

Also, although many dogs enjoy playing with other dogs throughout life, a significant number do not. As they age, they develop prejudices, aches, and pains, and learned play styles that may not gel well with other dogs. These are the dogs that should be kept out of off-leash dog parks.

A reasonable strategy for exercising urban dogs with these tendencies is to take them for walks at night. This is generally less stressful, as there is less activity and less chance of bumping into other dogs.

Comments from other people is another possible barrier. Some breeds provoke negative feedback from others, and there is evidence that overweight dogs embarrass their owners. Unwelcome dog behavior can also sometimes cause embarrassment. So, it’s important to train your dog to respond to you on and off the leash, both at home and away, and to remember that the secret to having a happy, healthy, and well-socialized dog starts with regular mental and physical exercise.

Bad weather may also act as a deterrent, but don’t let that stop you! Dog owners in the UK confront more cold, rainy days but are more committed to exercising their dogs than Australians.

Clearly, the heat of summer is a consideration for Australian dog owners, and it is generally more comfortable to exercise dogs in the early mornings and late evenings in midsummer.

The Benefits of Dog-Walking for Humans

So the benefits of dog-walking for dogs is clear. The good news is that it’s also hugely beneficial to people.

Regular physical activity for humans has major health benefits, yet around half of adult Australians are still insufficiently active for health, and have remained so for 22 years.

Dog-walking offers an unrealized, but simple, community-wide solution to the challenge of human physical inactivity. One benefit is that walking can improve mental well-being and increase social connections for many people. Modeling the concept of universal dog-walking provides surprising results.

If most of the dog owners in Australia who currently don’t walk their dogs started going on 20-minute walks every day, 12-17 percent more adult Australians would be sufficiently active.

This would halve inactivity, and could prevent up to five percent of all cases and deaths from heart disease and stroke, and up to 10 percent of major colon and breast cancers.

Dog-walking is also a great way to get the whole family moving, as a dog can be walked by children and parents. Increased walking has health, social, and, mental benefits. Isn’t it time you walked your dog more?


1. Cinnamon Roll Apple Pies

To make these cinnamon-scented apple pies in the air fryer, all you need is a store-bought package of canned cinnamon rolls and an apple.

After coring and slicing the apple, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the slices. Roll canned cinnamon roll dough flat with a rolling pin and, after placing a few apple slices on top of one roll, add another one to the top.

After pinching the dough closed to form a pocket around the apples, cook for about 10 minutes in a 350 F air fryer.

These pies were my favorite of the four desserts because, when topped with the icing from the cinnamon roll can, they were the sweetest combination of apple pie and a warm cinnamon roll. And the apples cooked to the perfect velvety consistency in the air fryer.


Cinnamon Bun French Toast Casserole, The Ultimate Make-Ahead Brunch

There are certain aromas in a kitchen that spark joy – chicken roasting in the oven, garlic sautéing in butter or chocolate chip cookies cooling on the kitchen counter. Undoubtedly, my favorite is the scent of cinnamon buns right out of the oven.

This past Thanksgiving, I wanted my family to wake up to the delicious smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns for breakfast. I made the dough, let it rise, spread it with cinnamon goodness, let it rise again and then baked it. It was a laborious process and frankly, not really worth the hassle. I knew there had to be an easier way to capture those flavors without resorting to the premade canned stuff. Enter the Cinnamon Bun French Toast Casserole.

This recipe takes all of the best parts of cinnamon buns and all the best parts of French toast, marrying them in a casserole dish in a quick process that can happen the night before. Just pop the casserole pan out of the fridge and into the oven while you’re making your coffee, and breakfast is ready to be served within an hour.

This dish comes together in just 10 minutes. Just soak some day-old challah bread in a custard mixture of eggs, sugar, cinnamon and milk overnight. I like to sneak in chunks of cream cheese to mimic the cream cheese frosting you’d normally find on a cinnamon bun.

After it’s baked, drizzle the casserole with a simple powdered sugar glaze and let it melt into all the nooks and crannies. Lastly, I garnish it with some crushed-up Cinnamon Toast Crush cereal to add more cinnamon flavor and to give the dish some texture.

This dish is seriously a showstopper. The next time you want to surprise your family with a special breakfast, remember this recipe. It’s delicious, decadent and looks impressive without a lot of work.


3. Tomato Avocado Egg Sandwich

If you need a healthy breakfast quick, fast and in a hurry, make yourself a Tomato Avocado Egg Sandwich. Using a Sandwich Maker from Hamilton Beach with this recipe makes preparing this delicious sandwich a cinch! It cooks the egg and toasts the English muffin in just 5 minutes &ndash all at the same time.

Add sliced cheese, tomato, and avocado&hellipand whatever else your taste buds desire. Just keep it on the nourishing side. Of course, you can make this sandwich manually by cooking your egg (fry, hard-boil, scramble, steam-cook, bake etc.), toasting your muffin slicing your veggies and cheese. And you know what else? Studies have specified that people who eat eggs for breakfast tend to lose weight.

Now we switch to creative ways of using eggs to prepare lunch menus. Eggs really are adaptable. They can be eaten morning, noon or night&hellipand for a midnight snack, too!


Science Explains Why Dog Really Is Man’s (and Woman’s) Best Friend

It’s no secret that the bond between a human and their pet can be a powerful one. Scientists say dogs have likely been “man’s best friend” for thousands of years. But beyond an endless supply of slobbery kisses and games of fetch, what about spending time with our dogs makes us so happy and calm?

“One of the main mental health benefits of having a pet is companionship,” Lois Krahn, Professor of Psychiatry at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, told NBCLX.

Krahn said something as simple as petting your dog releases a chemical in your brain that makes you feel safe.

“When a human pets an animal, a dog or a cat, the brain releases Oxytocin, which is a chemical that is kind of a nesting, care taking chemical that can enhance our sense of well-being,” Krahn explained. “There’s been research shown that people who spend time caring for their companion animals can be more relaxed. And that is evidenced because they may have better control of blood pressure with fewer blood pressure spikes.”

Krahn, who is a specialist in sleep medicine, also said pet owners may have slower heart rate and a degree of muscle relaxation that non-pet owners may not.

At the end of a long day, some pets can even help their humans sleep better.

“Sleep issues could potentially improve due to the presence of a companion animal,” said Dr. Krahn, “This is based on several assumptions that the animal is mature and happy, the animal is a reasonable size, not overly large, but having a companion animal nearby at night can help combat the feeling of being alone or being lonely because the animals there and the person is not truly alone,” Dr. Krahn said.

Even though our dogs can’t track time, they can also help create healthy routines in their humans’ lives.

“They know when it’s time to eat, they know when it’s time to go out, and they can be fairly structured and then help create more structure for their owner. People who are dog owners who take their dogs for walks tend to be in better physical shape.”

In a time of social distancing, and with more and more of our personal and professional interactions moving online, having a furry friend could go a long way.

I believe that a pandemic is a major challenge to mental health because there are so many changes. We are social beings, so keeping distance from other people for the sake of preventing illness is very hard. Some people who live alone have been by themselves for weeks and weeks. At this point, also there’s so much uncertainty about jobs, the economy, and financial security. That’s a huge source of worry for many of us.”

Pets are a big responsibility, and they certainly can’t solve all of your problems. Keeping a healthy mind and body takes work. But going through it with a pet who loves you unconditionally can really help along the way.

Correction: Due to an editing error the chemical Oxytocin was originally misidentified. We apologize for this error.


Falafel

Until recently, if you’d asked me if I ever wanted to make falafel at home, I’d have said “sure, one day” but what I meant was “nah, why bother?” I was certain that falafel was fussy to make and had a long ingredient list. It probably related in some way to a fritter, meaning that it was bound with eggs and flour, and probably had breading on it too, all pesky steps and this is even before you get to the peskiest of all: deep-frying them. I figured that it’s one of these things that there as many recipes for as there are people who make it, thus whatever I came up with would be wrong by default – too firm or too soft, with chickpeas instead of favas or vice-versa — no matter what. But this isn’t the whole truth. The fact is that below 14th Street, there are two locations each of Taim and Mamoun’s every time I even distantly considered whether I needed a homemade falafel recipe in my life, I knew I could get a perfectly executed sandwich in my hands before I even wrote out a grocery list.




Hey, I’m not proud of this. I pride myself on being a curious person in the realm of cooking so it’s pretty pathetic that I had falafel all worked up in my head as this highly complex thing and never once, you know, read a few recipes. Had I, I’d have learned many extremely cool things about falafel such as the fact that while you do need to start with dried chickpeas (come back!), you don’t even have to cook them, or not in the classic long-simmered way, to make it. You soak them overnight in cold water, grind them up with seasonings and herbs, pack them into spoonfuls, fry them in less than an inch of oil in merely a few minutes, and that is it. There’s no egg. There’s no breading. It’s vegan, it’s gluten-free, it’s dirt cheap, and it’s easy, I mean criminally easy, to make. And I had to do it immediately.



In real life, however, I waited until the first night of Hanukah for two reasons, one, fried food is basically the only rule of the holiday, and two, a family member has recently gone vegan and I weirdly love the challenge of trying new menus (obviously, the meal ended with this cake). Making falafel for 10 people was so easy, I had spare time to kill and so I decided to make pita bread too. Okay, I’m a little nuts but the fact is that 90% of storebought pita is dry and terrible and even the worst homemade pita, the couple that refuse to puff or puff erratically, as you see here, is still delicious.


Previously

Falafel

  • Servings: Makes 19 falafel fritters, for 4 to 6 pitas sandwiches
  • Time: 30 minutes plus an overnight and 30 minute rest

This makes 19 pieces of falafel about 1.5 inches in diameter, using a 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop to measure. I estimate 3 to 4 for each medium-large pita sandwich portion, to make 4 to 6 total, but we preferred only 3 in each. This recipe scales easily I’d recommend doubling it for a crowd or even just to stock your freezer for a future falafel night.

  • 1/2 pound (1 1/4 cups or 225 grams) dried chickpeas
  • 1/2 a large onion, roughly chopped or 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled (I use 4 but adjust to your tastes)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley, if you’re measuring, or a big handful
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, if you’re measuring, or a big handful
  • 1 teaspoons fine sea salt or 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes or mild ones such as urfa biber or Aleppo
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
  • To serve: Pitas, tahini sauce (below), tomato-cucumber salad, harissa (homemade or storebought) or another hot sauce (such as zhoug), and any pickled vegetables you wish, such as cucumbers, red onion, or mango (amba)
    The night before: Place chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough water to cover them by a few inches. I like to put 1 tablespoon of kosher salt per pound of chickpeas in this water too it will not toughen the beans or slow down their cooking time, it simply seasons them. Let the chickpeas soak overnight.

An hour or so before you’d like to eat falafel: Drain the chickpeas well. In the bowl of a food processor or a really strong blender, place the onion, garlic, and herbs and pulse the machine until they’re coarsely. Add the drained chickpeas, salt, and spices and process until blended to a fine chop but not pureed. You’re looking for a texture like cooked couscous plus some slightly larger bits throughout. You should be able to pinch it together into a shape that holds.

Transfer chickpea mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic, and place in refrigerator for a few hours, if you have it, but I find even 30 minutes is helpful in getting the mixture to thicken and hold shape better. [This is when I like to get everything else ready.]

To shape the falafel: Form the chickpea mixture into walnut-sized balls. You could use a falafel scoop, if you have one, tablespoon measuring spoon, or even a cookie scoop, as I did. The most important thing is that you press it into the scoop tightly to compress the ingredients, then gently roll it in the palm of your hands to form a ball. Repeat with remaining chickpea mixture. (If you’re like me, you imagine you can just do this as you add them to the pan, but they cook so quickly, you’ll be happy to not have to multitask. Trust me.)

To cook the falafel: Heat 3/4 to 1-inch of oil in a medium-large frying pan to 375°F. Fry about 6 falafel fritters at a time, turning them over once they’re a nice toasty brown underneath, and removing them once the second half has the same color. This took me about 3 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels and repeat with remaining fritters.

[Don’t have a thermometer? Well, 375 is very, very hot. It takes my frying pan of oil on high heat about 5 minutes to reach this temperature. You can also test a small ball if it cooks in about 3 minutes, it’s probably about the right temperature.]

To serve: I like to split open a pita and start with a little tahini sauce (below) and a spoonful of salad at the bottom before adding 3 to 4 falafel fritters. Stuff and finish with a more generous scoop of tomato-cucumber salad, more tahini sauce, a hot sauce of your choice, and pickles, if you wish.


4 Ways To Beat Your Diet Soda Addiction In One Week

Sure, diet soda isn't the sugar and calorie bomb of regular soda, but it's not exactly harmless either. "Not only is there little evidence that diet drinks help people lose or maintain weight," says nutritionist Marion Nestle, PhD, a professor of nutrition at New York University and author of Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning), "but there's some evidence that diet drinks cause similar metabolic problems to sugary drinks."

Indeed, a University of Minnesota study of nearly 10,000 adults found that just one diet soda a day triggered a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome, that cluster of symptoms that includes belly fat and high cholesterol and can lead to heart disease. "Anything with a heavy sweet taste, even if it's not technically sugar, may stimulate insulin release," explains Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of the Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction. "When it becomes excessive, you start to see a rise in insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease." Part of the reason it becomes excessive is that your taste buds get used to sweetness and then require more and more to feel satisfied.

The artificially sweetened, caramel-colored bubbly has also been shown to cause tooth decay, thinning bones, and kidney decline and to increase the odds of obesity. In a University of Texas Health Science Center study, sipping two or more cans a day expanded waistlines by 500%. (Take back control of your eating&mdashand lose weight in the process&mdashwith our 21-Day Challenge!)

To curb your cola consumption, you could try weaning yourself slowly: First, cut out one can a day for 2 weeks then mix the remaining one with water (uh, ew, but people are apparently doing it) then go down to half a can&hellipbut Teitelbaum believes there's a better way. "The issue is that it's an addiction&mdashthere's something driving the craving," he says. "If you don't address what's driving the craving, it won't go away."

Here's how you might be using diet soda to achieve various goals&mdashand the healthier way to meet those needs. "Whatever way you choose to do it, have a plan," advises Londa Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "Have other drinks on hand to replace your soda with."

1. Your diet soda motivation: You need energy.
If you pop a can of diet soda when you're looking for a pick-me-up, it could be the caffeine you're after.

Your diet soda detox: Try coffee or tea, which are chock-full of antioxidants for a good measure of disease protection. It's OK to lightly sweeten them&mdashas long as you choose stevia, a naturally sweet plant extract, or a teaspoon of honey, and not three packets of table sugar or the artificial stuff. Sandon recommends fruit-flavored iced tea such as cold brew peach or berry by Celestial Seasonings, because the fruit provides a natural sweetness. It's also a good idea to get more sleep so you're not chronically exhausted and dependent on caffeine to get through the day. (Think you're fine on shut-eye? Don't be so sure. Here are 7 ways to tell if you're getting enough sleep.)

2. Your diet soda motivation: Your blood sugar is low.
If you get irritable, shaky, or lightheaded and feel overwhelmed by everyday stressors, it could be that your adrenal glands need support. "Their job is to make more sugar during periods of stress," Teitelbaum explains. "When they get exhausted from being chronically activated, your blood sugar will drop and you won't have the hormones to manage it."

Your diet soda detox: Teitelbaum advises dispensing with as many day-to-day stressors as you can&mdashlike, do you really need to watch TV news at breakfast and start your day with terrorism and tornadoes? He also suggests avoiding blood sugar dips by not skipping meals (aim for three meals and two snacks daily) spread your protein throughout the day (add grilled chicken or chickpeas to that pasta salad) and keep a supply of nourishing snacks (like ⅓ cup of nuts and raisins) on hand for a blood sugar reboot. Nuts contain healthy fats that slow the absorption of sugar, and raisins have natural sugars that will bring you back into balance. You can also rehab your adrenal glands by taking supplements of vitamin C (500 mg) and vitamin B5 (50-100 mg) and by drinking licorice tea, Teitelbaum says.

3. Your diet soda motivation: You're (unconsciously) feeding yeast in your body.
If you have chronic nasal congestion, sinusitis, spastic colon, or irritable bowel syndrome, you could be heeding sugar cravings caused by yeast or candida overgrowth in your intestinal tract.

Your diet soda detox: "A good probiotic and getting off sugar will kill the yeasty beasties," Teitelbaum says. In the meantime, find a diet soda alternative that doesn't feel like punishment. Teitelbaum likes to trick out tea with stevia, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sandon recommends fruit-infused water or seltzer. "Lemon-flavored seltzer with a splash of cranberry juice is my favorite," she says. (Give these 25 simply delicious water recipes a try.)

4. Your diet soda motivation: Your hormones are in flux.
If you're PMSing or heading into perimenopause, hormonal fluctuations can cause insomnia, headaches, fatigue, or mild depression, all of which can trigger sugar cravings.

Your diet soda detox: Explore ways to kick up your estrogen, which increases the feel-good brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Teitelbaum recommends taking a page from Japanese women and grabbing a handful of edamame or drinking soy milk, because soy has plant compounds called isoflavones that mimic estrogen in the body. If that doesn't cut it and you need something sweet, have nature's treats&mdashan orange, a banana, a handful of berries, or two squares of dark chocolate.

It may take 7 to 10 days to stop craving diet soda, Teitelbaum says, depending on how well you're addressing the root cause. And if you still indulge occasionally, that's OK, too. "The bottom line is really to drink sodas of any kind in moderation," Sandon says. "By this I mean not every meal or every day. Save them for special occasions."


14 Popular Old Wives Tales That Are Totally Fake

These long-believed "facts" don't exactly hold any truth.

Depending on when you grew up, where you're from, and the kind of tales spun by your parents and the other kids on the playground, you probably know a few old wives tales. Those stories that we learn when we're too young to really question them and just accept as facts come from a wide array of sources. Some stem from little-understood or outdated science, others from folklore that's passed on like an inter-generational game of telephone. Many old wives tales, like admonishing kids to spit out their gum instead of swallowing it so it didn't stay in their stomachs, were at least originally intended to keep kids safe from harm. And let's face it, a lot of us still believe these tall tales well into adulthood, even if we can't quite explain their scientific basis. Well, we're here to help you with that.

We've dug into a few of the most pervasive old wives tales and figured out which are real, which are bogus, and where the heck they came from in the first place. So go ahead, swallow your gum, pluck out your gray hairs, and hit the pool after lunch with wild abandon. Those &ndash and many others &ndash are perfectly harmless.

No, you won't drown if you don't wait at least 30 minutes before jumping in the pool. The doctors at Duke Health say the science behind this tall tale is all wet. While the body does send extra blood to aid in digestion, it's not enough to keep your arm and leg muscles from functioning. You might get a small cramp, but nothing fatal. Pour one out for all those lost swimming minutes.

While it's true that the human body can't digest chewing gum, it doesn't really get stuck in your body. The Mayo Clinic reassures us that it passes through your system more or less intact and comes out the other end. That still doesn't mean you should swallow it, but accidentally doing so now and then won't hurt.

If you or one of your loved ones gets stung by a jellyfish, don't use this mythical healing technique. Peeing on a jellyfish sting won't make it feel better. Instead, The Mayo Clinic recommends removing the stinger with fine-tipped tweezers and soaking the affected area in hot water, or taking a hot shower, for 20&ndash45 minutes.

Not only does coffee not stunt your growth, most people start drinking it after they're finished growing since its bitter taste doesn't usually appeal to kids. Harvard Medical School explains that the misconception comes from the idea that coffee causes osteoporosis. We now know there's no link between the two.

Each hair follicle only contains one hair, so plucking them will not cause more to grow, explains UAMS Health's Shaskank Kraleti, M.D. If you just can't stand the sight of gray hairs, trim them close to the scalp instead of plucking, to avoid possibly damaging the follicle. That could lead to infection, scarring, or even bald patches.

This one will come as a relief to anyone who spends all day staring at a screen: Sitting too close to the TV will not hurt your eyesight. The American Academy of Ophthalmology explains that it could cause temporary eyestrain, which occurs when your eyes get tired from overuse. So don't forget to rest your peepers every once in awhile, fellow desk jockeys.

Relax, feline fans: Your cat will not suck your baby's breath from their body. According to an investigation by LiveScience, this idea may come from a 300-year-old case in which a child was supposedly strangled to death by a cat. Today, we know the baby more likely passed from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. While you should always monitor pets around babies, your cat likely doesn't bear yours any ill will.

Just like plucking, shaving has no impact on the thickness of your hair, The Mayo Clinic reassures us. Because shaving cuts the hair off at a blunt angle, it can feel thicker and look more noticeable as it grows back in.

There's nothing wrong with a good brunch Bloody Mary, but don't fool yourself: That morning-after drink just delays the inevitable. The idea that "hair of the dog" cures a hangover first appeared in print in 1546, according to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. But it's never been true. The only cure for a hangover is waiting it out.

Your parents may have told you cracking your knuckles will lead to arthritis, but they were probably just sick of the noise. According to Cedars Sinai orthopedic surgeon Robert Klapper, M.D., that cracking sound is just nitrogen bubbles in the fluid that lubricates your joints. If, however, you feel pain or discomfort while cracking, that may be a sign of an issue.

While carrots do contain beta carotine, a vitamin that helps maintain normal vision, eating more of them won't help fix poor eyesight, explains Berkeley Health. This myth actually dates back to the British Royal Air Force during World War II. Pilots used radar to shoot down enemy planes for the first time but spread a rumor that eating more carrots gave them better eyesight to fool the Allied forces. Evidently, their plot worked a little too well.

The bottom line is, you only get sick when exposed to a virus or bacteria. But research shows being cold can have an adverse effect on your immune system. We also spend more time indoors and around other people when the mercury drops, which leads to passing disease around like a hot dish at a potluck.

If you've ever exclaimed, "Five second rule!" while picking up a dropped piece of candy and popping it into your mouth, we have bad news. Scientists from Rutgers University found that bacteria transfers to food starting immediately. How much depends on the type of flooring and food involved, but it's best not to eat anything that hit the ground at all.

The arachnophobic might sleep a little better tonight knowing this old wives tale isn't true. The National Sleep Foundation says there's no hard data to support it, but that spiders wouldn't be inclined to crawl into a predator's mouth. We also move around enough in our sleep to scare them off, so don't worry about accidentally swallowing the creepy crawlies.


Long-Term Science Experiments at Home

24. Crystal Kingdom

This is the oldest trick in the book, but it’s popular because it’s so effective, fun, and has great results. The only drawback to most crystal-growing recipes is that they take ages to grow, and to be quite honest this one is no exception. In fact, these crystals will take several days to grow but the end result is worth it. The reason is that this experiment involves growing a whole landscape of beautifully colored salt and bluing crystals. Here’s a video for visual reference:

A few things to keep in mind: Allow for plenty of air circulation, preferably inside rather than outside. Ammonia is not necessary but does help in the process.

Questions to ask beforehand:

  1. What will happen when you add ammonia?
  2. Why does more salt and less liquid create faster crystallization?
  3. What part does the bluing solution have in crystal growing?

You’ll need:

  • Two bottles of bluing solution
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Ammonia
  • Large tray/cookie sheets with sides
  • Scissors
  • Sponges
  • Measuring cup
  • Liquid watercolors
  • Eye droppers

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. Cut sponges into large pieces. Spread them out on the tray.
  2. Measure out 1 cup of each of salt, water, and bluing and then gently mix together.
  3. Evenly coat or sprinkle the mix over the sponges.
  1. By now you’ll see some crystals growing. Sprinkle the magic mix again: 1 cup each of salt, water, and bluing. You can pour the ingredients onto the tray instead of on top of the crystals to keep them from breaking. Don’t worry, more will grow!
  2. Take an eyedropper, and drop a tablespoon of each liquid watercolor (undiluted) in different patterns over the sponges and crystals.
  1. Take note of your garden and what the crystal formations look like. You can make a sketch in your notebook as a before and after. Ask questions and observe!
  1. Observe how the crystals are bigger than before, and notice the colors aren’t as vibrant. Compare the differences in shapes, sizes, and colors.
  2. If you want more crystals to grow, add a little more water, bluing, and salt.

25. Blow up a Balloon with Yeast

We are surrounded by science in action, but sometimes it is really difficult to see what is happening, especially when it is on a small-scale. When we make bread, yeast ‘eats’ the sugars in the food and creates CO2, giving bread its airy texture. This experiment lets you both visualize what happens when yeast consumes sugar and is a great set-up for an experiment that can be observed throughout the day.

Depending on your supplies and time, you could start with a demonstration and use that to think of other tests, or you could set up several parallel tests at the same time.

Questions to ask beforehand:

  1. How quickly does the balloon filled with air?
  2. When does it stop filling (at some point the yeast will run out of food and will stop making gas)?
  3. Does the starting temperature affect the experiment?
  4. Does the balloon fill faster in different places in your home (try especially for different air-temperatures, you could include an outside location)?

You’ll need:

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. Blow up the balloon a few times before starting so that it’s loosened up a bit.
  2. Fill the bottle with about 1 inch of warm water (heat is required to activate the yeast, but you could experiment with different temperatures), add the yeast and swirl to dissolve.
  3. Add the sugar and swirl more.
  4. Place the balloon over the opening to the bottle and wait. You should expect to see the balloon begin to inflate after around 20 minutes.
  5. Continue checking and observing how much the balloon inflates throughout the day.

More example experimental setups include:

  1. Do different temperatures – either with the water you start with or the air the yeast lives in – affect how quickly the balloon blows-up?
  2. Does using 2x the yeast result in a balloon that is 2x bigger, or blows-up 2x faster?
  3. Do different types of sugar (e.g., white sugar, honey, syrup, flour) affect how quickly the balloon blows up or how big it gets?

A sk your child to think of new experiments (you could prompt with some of the examples above, or ideas from this post ).

26. Seed Germination

A really simple but fun multi-day experiment is germinating seeds under different conditions. This means finding some quick-sprouting seeds such as beans and putting them in different conditions to see how that affects germination (sprouting leaves and roots) and growth.

I love using seed experiments because they are inexpensive, simple, and leave a ton of room for creating your own unique experiment.

A question to ask beforehand:

You’ll need:

  • Seeds (Beans, radishes, squashes, and many flowers sprout quickly from large seeds, making them good choices.)
  • Small pots or paper cups
  • Potting soil
  • Sand
  • Cloth or paper towel
  • Water
  • Somewhere with good light

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. To get started, you’ll need some seeds – feel free to choose something you already have, if you’re a gardener you might have some seeds ready for the coming season and could spare a few – or find something online or at your local nursery.
  2. Use small pots or paper cups and fill each with your growth material (we recommend a minimum of 3 for a useful comparison).
  3. Fill one with potting soil, one with sand, and one with a cloth or paper towel.
  4. Place them somewhere with good light, and add water.
  5. Ask your child to predict which seed will sprout fastest, and make observations every day. If possible, make them around the same time each day.
  6. Once you see growth, you can ask your child what they think caused any differences, and you can use that as a jumping-off point for more experiments

Additionally, you could:

  • Use one type of seed and different types of growth media: soil, paper towel, gravel, sand, water, etc.
  • You could use different seeds (beans, flowers, grass, herbs) and grow them under the same conditions (soil, water, sun exposure) to see how different plants grow differently.
  • You could see how different light conditions (by a window, in the basement, in a bright room away from a window, etc.) affect germination.

You could also extend each experiment by simply continuing to grow each seed to learn whether the different germination time affects long-term growth (you may want to re-pot everything in the soil for this to be effective, depending on the specifics of your initial experiment).

27. Colored Celery

It’s hard to imagine plants having little capillaries inside them that transport water and nutrients, but this experiment shows that in action. It’s easy to set up, but you’ll have to wait at least a day to see some results. Your kids will be able to see how transpiration takes place and plants absorb water from the soil all the way up into their leaves.

You’ll need:

  • A few stalks of celery (celery works best for this because it’s a bit more visible, but you could also use flower stems)
  • Water
  • Different food coloring

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. Place each stalk in a cup of colored water and make your predictions about what will happen.
  2. After a day or so you’ll see the celery leaves becoming the color of the water they’re standing in.
  3. Have your kids describe their observations (they can write down what they see or draw it if they prefer).
  4. If you look at the base of the stem you’ll also see tiny little holes that the colored water is traveling through.

When you’re done with the experiment, make sure you snap the celery and look inside – you should be able to see the capillaries in action. For more ideas, Little Bins for Little Hands has got some great hints and tips for this experiment.

28. Moldy Bread

This experiment is an oldie, but a goodie! Kids love looking at disgusting things and this one will certainly come up with the goods. Not only will kids learn about how mold grows, but they might also take on some lessons about the importance of washing their hands!

You might want to check out the results of this experiment at Science Alert before you start to see if your stomach is up to it.

You’ll need:

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. Get a few slices of bread and lay them out on your kitchen bench.
  2. Have your kids touch one piece of bread with dirty, unwashed hands.
  3. They can wash their hands with soap and water and touch another slice, then do the same using hand sanitizer.
  4. Leave one piece of bread untouched.
  5. Place them all in clear, labeled ziplock bags and predict which one will grow the most mold.
  6. Leave your bread slices for at least a week (it may take a bit longer, depending on the conditions where you live) and get the kids to record their observations.

You can also try wiping your bread slices on other surfaces to see what moldy results you get (their laptop or tablet is a great place to start)!

29. Sprouting Beans

Give your household a real survivalist feel by beginning an indoor garden. We recommend planting your beans in a clear cup so that your children can be privy to all of the processes during the plant’s journey.

Questions to ask beforehand:

  • How does a plant grow?
  • What does germination mean?
  • What is in season to grow in our area now?

You’ll need:

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. If you’d like your child to see every step of the process, consider placing the beans inside of a damp paper towel inside of a ziplock.
  2. You can wait, see the germinated seed together, and then plant it inside of a small cup.
  3. Once inside the cup, watch it grow.

Extend your work by planting various beans and altering the growth conditions in order see what makes your beans grow best!

30. Begin Composting

Begin your “go green” resolutions by teaching your child the value of composting! Best of all, once the science experiment is done, your family will have a recycling process that will last your entire lifetimes.

Questions to ask beforehand:

  • Why is composting important?
  • How else can our household go green?
  • Why do we need a foundation layer for compost?

You’ll need:

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. First, create a compost bin. You can purchase one or build one out of wood.
  2. To begin your composting, you’ll need even amounts of brown materials (think shredded paper, dryer lint, etc.) and green materials (think fruit and vegetable waste, lawn clippings, etc.).
  3. If you’re really feeling fancy, throw some earthworms in there.

For days to come, your family will be able to discuss what can and cannot be broken down by the decomposers inside of the compost bin. Never-ending science!

31. Turn Grapes Into Raisins

Your kids may or may not eat raising – but we can guarantee you, they’ve likely never considered the option of creating their own!

Questions to ask beforehand:

  • What other snacks can we make with science?
  • Should we ever eat our experiments?
  • How does this work?

You’ll need:

Procedure/Instructions:

Leave your grapes somewhere where they will not be disturbed and use this as an opportunity for your children to journal the changes in the grapes from day to day. Believe it or not, this type of sequential journaling is a valuable literacy skill!

32. DIY Science Experiment

The best science experiment your child can engage in is the one they create themselves! Begin brainstorming a list of questions and let the world be their oyster as they plan and carry out their own experiments. Some of our favorite brainstorming questions, from Scholastic’s Science-Fair Project Guide, are listed below:

  • What is the effect of toothpaste brand on teeth-cleaning power?
  • What brand of trash bag can withstand the most weight before ripping?
  • How does the type of material affect how long a shirt takes to dry?

Written by Miranda Altice, Kaitlin Anselmo, Mark Coster, Allison Ebbets, and Jodie Magrath.

Mark is the driving force behind STEM Geek. With 20 years of experience in chemistry education and research, and 3 willing children as guinea pigs, Mark has a passion for inspiring kids and adults to combine fun and learning with STEM Toys!



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