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The Science of Christmas

We may not have the snowflakes, chimney (well most of us in Christchurch don’t anymore!) or the appropriately attired Father Christmas, but we do have a uniquely Kiwi Christmas.

Here are a few science-based facts on Christmas to share with your kids (or colleagues).

1.    Father Christmas would have to fly at 2092.147km a second to deliver presents to every child in the world on Christmas Eve – good thing he has magical reindeer!

2.    Rudolf isn’t alone; there are other reindeer that have red noses too (sometimes). The blood vessels in their noses help them to regulate their body temperature.

3.    All of Father Christmas’ reindeer are females – how do we know? Male reindeer shed their antlers around Christmas time, and all the images have reindeer with antlers.

4.    In Poland, spiders are decorations on the Christmas tree – their legends talk of a spider that wove a blanket over baby Jesus.

5.    Check out this awesome book for even more science Christmas knowledge (it’s hilarious!) – your library is a great place to get Can Reindeer Fly?: The Science of Christmas by Rodger Highfield.

DIY candy cane ornament

the-science-of-christmasWhat could possibly be more Kiwi than a good DIY project? Let’s make some DIY candy cane ornaments with a delightful science twist!

You’ll need:

Borax (Easy to get at Bin Inn)
Pipe cleaners
Dental floss (or nylon thread)
Glass jar


1.    Create candy cane shapes by twisting red and white pipe cleaners together.

2.    Tie the floss to the top of the pipe cleaners, and then tie the ends of the floss together so that you have a large loop.

3.    Fill the glass jar with boiling water. Add several tablespoons of Borax powder to the boiling water in the jar, and stir with a spoon until all the Borax has dissolved. Keep adding borax until it won’t dissolve anymore.

4.    Lower the pipe cleaner into the Borax – you may need a weight to balance it so it doesn’t fall in (pencils work well).

5.    Make sure the pipe cleaner is hanging in the solution, without touching the sides or bottom of the jar.

6.    Over the next few days, crystals will start to form onto your candy-cane.

7.    Once the crystals have stopped growing, remove your candy-cane from the jar and let it dry.

8.    You’re now all ready to hang it up on your tree or window ledge!

We at Science Alive hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday and stays safe – we’ll see you next year with more science-inspired craft activities.

Science Alive are exclusively providing at-home science experiments to Family Times. For more, visit Science Alive’s blog at www.ScienceAlive.co.nz.


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