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Don't toss those turkey bones! Easy Thanksgiving science

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If you're going to be having turkey this Thanksgiving, here's a great way to make use of those bones afterwards.

Make bendable bones!

This simple science experiment teaches kids the importance of calcium -- and is also just really cool.

Here's what you need:

  • A jar large enough to hold a chicken or turkey bone
  • A chicken or turkey bone (legs or drumsticks work best)
  • Vinegar

Here's what you do:

  1. Remove any meat from the bone and rinse well in warm water.
  2. Have the kids try to bend the bone and otherwise test its hardness.
  3. Put the bone in the jar and cover it with vinegar. Put a lid on the jar and let it sit for three days.
  4. Remove the bone from the jar, rinse and have the kids feel it now.

Here's what happened:

Explain to the kids that calcium is what keeps our bones hard. Vinegar is a mild acid, but it is strong enough to dissolve away the calcium in the bone. Once it dissolved the calcium in the bone, there was nothing to keep it hard and all that was left was soft bone tissue.

You can also add thinner bones to the vinegar and experiment with tying them in knots! If you want to try this experiment, look for some long, thin bones to add to the vinegar. Leave them for 3-4 days and then remove them and see if you can tie them in knots. Once they are exposed to the air for long enough, they'll harden again because they will react to the carbon dioxide in the air.

You can extend the lesson by talking about calcium and good sources of it. Foods rich in calcium include kale, spinach, soybeans, dairy products, white beans, some fish (such as sardines, salmon and perch), collards, okra and calcium fortified foods like orange juice. Be sure they also know that our bodies need vitamin D to absorb the calcium and the best way to keep bones strong is to do lots of weight bearing exercise like walking every day.

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