Score one for supermom who pulled off the 6 year-old's birthday party, and a good time was had by all.
We had to have something that was easy enough for me to handle without my husband's help, and fun enough for M and her friends. So her science party accomplished that. She had a funfetti cake with sprinkles (which she applied herself), and we found these candles that spelled out "Happy Birthday" and a separate set with her name. Funny thing was, her name candles didn't light, but the happy birthday ones did. Different materials used in the making? I don't know.
So we started by letting the kids drop a dissolving colored pellet in warm water and watching it grow into a animal-shaped sponge. Then when everyone was here, we broke out the Insta-Snow powder we got from Steve Spangler Science. It was a hit. They just cupped their hands together, I put a small scoop of powder in their hands, poured on the 1/3 cup of water, and voila! They said it tickled their hands. It was really cool to watch, and with 8 children, we got to watch it 8 times. Then they got to play with it for awhile. Very cool stuff. I wish I'd had someone there to video tape their reactions.
Next we went outside again to do a few "tricks". I had a kit that contained all the supplies. Some of them were the same things we'd done at this summer's Group VBS, so half our guests recognized them. These included "disappearing water" using water gel powder (polycrystals that absorb the water and turn it into gel so it sticks in the cup and you can surprise unsuspecting children that the water "disappeared"); stretching a banana (an optical illusion) and blowing up a large windbag with a single breath (using positive air flow, instead of the intuitive balloon-blowing method).
The one fun thing M was aware we were going to do (the rest were surprises) was a geyser, done by dropping Mentos into a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke. Having never done this, I was unsure of what to expect. It turned out well, and the kids were amazed, and I managed to avoid getting doused with diet coke spewing into the air about 15 feet or more. We even strained out the Mentos afterward and the kids ate them.
Then it was birthday cake and ice cream time. It'll take us awhile to eat the gallon of Neapolitan ice cream we bought. I think I'll reuse the bucket for storing all these science supplies I've acquired. Now, I had hired one of my favorite teen babysitters to help me with our youngest child, so she could be here but not be a nuisance to me pulling off the party successfully. However, my sitter was more of a party assistant up to this point, because A slept the whole time up until it was time for cake and ice cream. (Good timing!)
Then M opened her presents, and the kids were asking me, "are we going to do any more science experiments?" So I pulled out the last one I had prepared, where you stick a hex-nut into a balloon, and blow it up and tie it, and swirl it around and it makes a screaming sound. That kept the kids entertained until it the parents came to pick them up. Their goodie bags included a pair of safety goggles, their own windbag, and a giant plastic test tube with their own Insta-Snow powder, and more science ideas they can do with the test tube.