Gross Alien Autopsy for kids!
Here’s a cool program that involves gross stuff and aliens, two things that kids love. They examine an alien corpse and make scientific observations. The “corpse” is a jello mold full of strange objects.
I got this idea from Catherine Brenner of Bethlehem Public Library, who made a presentation for our summer reading workshop. She did a whole series of programs centered around “grossology”.
The gelatin mold above is actually a British import for a “giant jelly baby”. Other options would be a gingerbread man cake pan.
The recipe I used has about a half-bowl extra, which was fine with my family.
- 2 6 oz. packages of gelatin mix (orange or lime)
- 1 3/4 cup boiling water
- 3/4 cup cold water
- small plastic toys, jiggly eyes and boiled spaghetti
Pour the boiling water into a large bowl with the gelatin mix, stir for two minutes, add cold water. Spray the mold with oil. Pour the gelatin into the mold along with the weird objects. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
To un-mold, run a knife along the edges of the mold to break the seal. Put mold in a bath of warm water (do not submerge). I used plastic shoe boxes to store the aliens. Moisten the inside lid of the box and carefully flip the mold onto it, peeling it off. Aliens should either be stored in the fridge or a cool, dark place.
For the program, make your kids into scientists. I recommend plastic aprons and plastic gloves. Remind the participants not to eat their specimen (to avoid accidentally ingesting toys, and also, ew). Before they begin dissecting, have your scientists make observations, notes, and drawings. Ask them to use their senses to describe what they see without using emotional words like yucky or gross.
WARNING: this consistency of gelatin is as sticky as glue- it can stick the fingers of your gloves together if you get too covered.
Great tools to have for the autopsy would be plastic knives and tweezers.
My exuberant five year old demonstrated to me why this program is best for ages 8 and up. He was all about the texture of the jello and mashing it between his fingers, sending it everywhere. For his age group, an ooblek project would work better (non-newtonian fluid).