I Tried To Create A Ghost Using A "Ghost Science" Kit From Amazon
Weird Science's 'Ghost Science' experiment kit is a horror-themed activity set for kids. Its makers, Graffix, aim to help children learn a little bit about science while exploring the mysterious world of the supernatural with 10 "insane experiments."
The product is aimed at kids ages eight and older. I love science and am fascinated by the paranormal, so even as an adult this ghostly science kit caught my eye. I bought one from Amazon for £7.99.
The product's box promises that you will "learn about static electricity and its ghostly charge," "watch bones bend right before your eyes," and "create and launch a ghost using a chemical reaction."
The Amazon page told me that "this set comes with all the lab equipment needed to be a scientist." However upon opening the box I found that this was a little bit of a stretch.
What is actually in the box is an empty plastic water bottle, two plastic pots - the type used as film canisters, a plastic jar, three balloons, five sheets of tissue paper, a black marker pen, a tiny pot of glow paint, some slime powder, a pack of bicarbonate soda, and safety goggles. There was also a paint brush, but that's not mentioned anywhere in the instructions so it's unclear why that's included.
What Amazon doesn't tell you is that it's not really what's in the box that you need to know about, but what isn't. Small print on the packaging reads: "additional components required to carry out experiments."
That statement couldn't be more true. In addition to the limited number of mostly plastic items provided, you need... clear glue, liquid starch, wiggle eyes, sticky tape, a lemon, white paper, cotton swabs, a hex nut, marshmallows, a microwave-safe plastic bottle, an empty two litre cola bottle, a rubber glove, and chicken bones.
As I didn't realise how many extra items I needed until the set was delivered, I was already invested. I went to a supermarket to buy the bits I needed. Unfortunately I couldn't get everything I needed, so I had to improvise a bit, but what I did get cost me £12.79.
Now, with a fully stocked ghost lab. I started working my way through the ten experiments to learn about the world of weird science and make some wonderful discoveries.
1. Clear Ghost Slime
2. Glowing Ectoplasm
Ectoplasm, also known as ghost slime, is a substance that paranormal creatures leave behind when passing through solid objects, such as walls or furniture. It is also used as a gateway for ghosts to enter our realm from their own. Ectoplasm appears as a gooey green, snot like slime and can get very messy.
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3. Ghost Rocket
4. Static Electricity Ghost
When you rub the balloon on your sweater/hair the balloon collects extra electrons, which are negatively charged atoms. When you move your negatively charged balloon over the tissue paper ghost the ghost will rise. This is because the ghost has a positive charge to it, meaning there are more positively charged atoms, protons, than the balloon The different charges create an attraction which causes the ghost to rise. Goes to show, opposites really do attract!
5. Invisible Ink
When the lemon juice was applied to the paper, the carbon-based compounds were absorbed into the paper. When the lamp heated the paper it caused some of the chemical bonds to break down, freeing the carbon. When carbon comes into contact with air, it goes through a process called oxidation, which will turn the colour of the lemon juice to a darker shade - making it visible again.
6. Screaming Ghost
Your balloon ghost will "scream" because the vibration of the hex nut against the balloon walls creates a loud sound that could be considered a scream. The air that is released from the balloon creates enough movement of the hex nut to cause this reaction.
7. Ghost Geyser
Why do marshmallows expand?
A marshmallow will expand when heated because they are made of foamed sugar. When the marshmallow is put under heat, the water inside the foam heats up, which causes air to become trapped. The trapped air causes the marshmallow to expand. Once the heat is turned off, the foam will collapse and become gooey.
8. Ghost Balloon
9. Diving Ghost
You'll notice that there's no photo to represent this experiment. That's because it was a total no go, again due to the lack of provided items.
The "what you need" information in the instructions listed a plastic pipette eye dropper amongst other things. I have one, so I thought I was good to go, but upon reading the instructions I found I had to cut the pipette up and make it unusable.
I was also required to cut up a pair of rubber gloves just to get one of the fingers to use in the experiment. Surely a surgical latex glove is cheap enough to include in the kit. This experiment also requires a hex nut, which I don't have.
Even if I did have the required items, there are no diagrams and it's really unclear what the diving ghost is. I'll include the instructions below in their unedited entirety so you can see if you understand the process...
1. Using your scissors cut the pipette around 1cm below the bulb.
2. Take your hex nut and slide this on to the opening of the bulb where you have just cut.
3. Now to turn your pipette bulb into a ghost.
4. Cut a finger off your rubber glove.
5. Cut off the fingertip end.
6. You will now have a rubber tubing to place over your pipette bulb.
7. Place your bulb into the tube and secure in place with tape. Ensure the fingertip is at the top and the wider end becomes the skirt.
8. You can cut up the skirt to make the skirt look more ghostly.
9. Add a spooky scary face using your marker pen onto the bulb and tape.
10. Your ghost is now ready to dive!
11. Turn your ghost upside down and fill it with water.
12. Turning the correct way round, squeeze out a little water until you see a bubble appear in the top of the bulb.
13. Fill a two litre bottle with water.
14. Making sure you still have your bubble in your ghost, pop the ghost into the bottle with the bulb pointing up.
15. Place the lid back on, squeeze your bottle to make your ghost dive and then let go for the ghost to swim back to the top.
10. Bending Bones
This kit is really poor. I know it's aimed at kids, but I thought it would be fun to try. It really wasn't. At my age I'm quite used to disappointment, but a child who is given this set would be massively disappointed.
First of all they'd find that when they open the box there is only one experiment you can carry out without buying additional items, two if you've got some sticky tape at home. Although the kit itself only cost £8, the additional items needed cost almost double that again.
Secondly there's no way a child wouldn't feel disappointed by the incredibly underwhelming experiments and their reactions.
Of the eight experiments I tried, only two worked. I was able to move the static electricity ghost, but it didn't work very well. The ghost balloon did inflate a bit, but was massively underwhelming.
The other experiments either just didn't work at all, or the instructions were unclear like in experiment two when the quantity of water required to make glowing ectoplasm isn't specified. Plus there were the two experiments where getting the required items was just too difficult.
The "science bits" were also very poorly written, taking away any educational value. The kit is said to be for ages 8+, but talk of electrons and protons in relation to static electricity seems a little advanced for that age range. Plus the description is wrong. The instruction state that electrons and protons are atoms. This is clearly incorrect as they are in fact sub-atomic, the particles that make up an atom.
Elsewhere in the instructions a line reads, "the air that is released from the balloon creates enough movement of the hex nut to cause this reaction." What they are trying to say here is unclear, no air escapes from a tied balloon and it's not air moving the hex nut inside the balloon, it's you spinning the balloon that is moving it.
I don't just think this product is poor. It's shameful and verging on a scam. To make matters worse, the few items you do get with it are all plastic, most of which are single use. How this product ever went into production is more of a mystery that any ghost story.
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