Dragon’s blood

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By Helen Clarecreative science project manager

Ignite imaginations with fire-breathing dragons and mysterious liquids!

This investigation gives children the opportunity to use a range of scientific techniques to analyse a liquid. They are asked to think of questions, to observe using their senses, to measure using different instruments, and to experiment with the processes of filtration and evaporation. The liquid represents dragon’s blood, from the story on Activity sheet 2, ‘Magical liquid’. The story follows Arundel and Peveril, who are on a quest to find a cure for the king’s dying daughter, and are unsure as to whether the dragon’s blood is the curative liquid they need.

Rather than giving separate lower and upper junior activities, the investigation splits into nine activities of various difficulty. This creates a menu from which you can design a lesson suitable for your class. Differentiation can also be achieved, by asking groups of children of different abilities to carry out experiments that feed into the class investigation – you could provide instruction cards for the children that need them.

Getting started

  • Before carrying out the activities on page 7, you need to make the dragon’s blood. Make a quarter-strength jelly. This will need stirring as it sets, so that all the jelly doesn’t sink to the bottom. Mix in lemon juice and fizzy drink. Extra red and blue food colouring may also be required to give the ‘blood’ a crimson colour. You should also add a little glucose. If you do this just before presenting the children with the dragon’s blood, then the mixture should fizz.
  • The resulting mixture should be clear, crimson, less runny than water, sweet-smelling, and have a higher melting point and boiling point than water. It will be shown to contain water, and will leave behind some gelatinous material when filtered. On boiling, there will be more material left behind as the soluble, as well as gelatinous, material will be left behind. The liquid will be shown to be acidic (unlike healthy human blood, or indeed reptile blood). It will contain sugar (like human or animal blood). It will be denser than water.
  • Safety note: children should not taste the mixture as they are experimenting. Some of the experiments require the liquid to be boiled, so great care must be taken – give the children goggles and gloves to wear, or do it as a teacher demonstration activity.
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