With school out for summer (hopefully not forever), kids and parents are looking for things to fill the time that might also be somewhat educational. Luckily, the materials for some fun and informative experiments that even the most frazzled parents and bored kids can enjoy may be lying around your home.
Fun with Carbon Dioxide!
This is a classic, easy experiment that can teach kids about chemical reactions and what happens when you mix a base and an acid, in this case, baking soda and vinegar. There are all sorts of ways to play with these too. Add some food color to r the baking soda and make the reaction come out as lava! Or, place the vinegar in a bottle, the baking soda in a balloon and put it on top and voila: fun!
For your more advanced scientist, discuss with them how the interaction of the vinegar and baking soda actually create several different reactions, not just the one that creates carbon dioxide.
This experiment also uses vinegar and is super easy. Just submerge a raw egg in vinegar for a day or three (until it’s translucent) and then rinse off the peel and viola, a bouncy egg! Once you have a naked egg or five, you can add the eggs to different substances and see how submerging and leaving the eggs in those affects them!
Egg in a Bottle
This one is pretty famous as well, but popping a flame into a bottle with a hardboiled (not raw!) egg on top and seeing the egg get sucked in is a very fun way to teach kids about air pressure. Yes, air pressure. When the flame inside the bottle goes out, the air cools and creates a difference in air pressure that sucks the egg into the bottle!
Another experiment that utilizes the difference between cold and hot air for exciting results is the “can crush experiment” which is one the kiddo definitely needs an adult around for! Heating cans in a pan then plunging them into ice water also creates a differential in air pressure so and thus, crushed cans!
Air pressure and chemical reactions are great, but might be sorta complex. But one concept that kids can get really easily is the idea of density because it’s something they can feel with their (washed) bare hands. And you already have liquids and objects of different densities right in your kitchen, like water, syrup, and oil!
Rainbows with Milk and Dish Soap
This is one I tried just yesterday with my own miniature scientist and it’s really fun. All you need is milk, a few drops of food coloring, and dish soap. The different surface tensions of the liquids stop them from mixing and when the dish soap, which is a surfactant, touches the color, it changes that surface tension at the substances mix!
Slime and Oobleck
Slime is huge on YouTube and Instagram but it needs borax and glue to be made, which aren’t accessible to everyone right now. But Slime’s related cousin “Oobleck” (which takes its name from the Dr. Seuss Classic Bartholomew and the Oobleck) just uses cornstarch and water, is easier to make and just as fun.
Both Slime and Oobleck are what we call non-Newtonian fluid, which means they’re a fun way to teach kids about the laws of physics and have some fun with it too!
These are just a few fun ideas. What are your favorite experiments for the little ones?
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