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Coffee Table Science


Halloween is just a few days away, which means it’s almost time for rotting pumpkins!

Watching jack-o’-lanterns decompose in our front yard is an annual family tradition. This year we have a head start. One of our pie pumpkins was mysteriously stabbed, and the culprit has yet to confess.

I gathered the rotting pumpkin, as well as some other biological specimens, on our coffee table. Then I surrounded them with science books. Setting up a learning table right in our living room is an easy way to get kids interested in science.

It’s also a good lead-in for when we go to the Life Sciences Research Weekend at the Pacific Science Center.

From November 1st-3rd real scientists from all over Puget Sound are coming to meet families, lead demonstrations, and talk about how scientific research impacts our everyday lives. Entry to the event is included with an admission ticket.


Both of my kids love science, but finding time to set up experiments at home is hard. Some of the things we’ve done in the past include building atoms with marshmallows, discovering osmosis with food dye, and experimenting with desalination.

If I was a cooler mom, I’d be setting up a science experiment for my kids to do each week. In the meantime, I bet a day at the Pacific Science Center will provide lots of inspiration.

Mini-Pumpkin Math

There's math in here.  I know it!

There’s math in here. I know it!

Jenna(4) has been working on taking a large quantity of objects and organizing them to make the objects easier to quantify.  (See here for more info.)

Today she practice that skill using mini pumpkins.

How many pumpkins are there?

How many pumpkins are there?

One solution would be to line them up and count.

One solution would be to line them up and count.

Or you could make "five flowers" with pumpkins.

Or you could make “five flowers” with pumpkins.

Organizing mates it easier to visualize. Twenty Six!

Organizing makes it easier to visualize.

Can you see in one glance what the answer is?