School may be out for summer, but the learning doesn’t have to stop there.  Looking for an activity that’s both fun and educational?  Look no further.  Quench your kid’s curiosity and their appetite for wonder by performing these great DIY science experiments. All you need are a few common household items.

As you perform the experiments, ask your child what’s happening and why they think it’s happening.  Then, take the opportunity to explain a little bit about physics, chemistry, and how stuff works.

 

1.  Create a Rainbow in a Jar

Rating: parental supervision required

rainbow in a jar

This is a visually beautiful way to introduce kids to the chemistry of liquid density – some liquids don’t mix because they are more or less dense than others. By coloring them with dye, you can create a rainbow!

You’ll need the following: A large, clear jar or container that can hold at least 2 1/2 cups of liquid, rubbing alcohol, corn syrup, olive oil, blue liquid dish soap, water and a pack of food dye that contains red, blue, green and yellow.

Start to fill the container with purple, which will be your densest liquid. In a smaller container, mix one-half cup of corn syrup with one drop of blue and one drop of red food dye, then have your child pour it into the jar.

Rinse the small container after mixing and slowly pour each colored layer into the jar, and use the following ingredients to create the next four layers:

Blue – one-half cup of blue dish soap – pour slowly

Green – one-half cup of water with two drops of green food dye – pour slowly

Yellow – one-half cup of olive oil – pour slowly

Red – one-half cup of rubbing alcohol with two drops of red food coloring – pour slowly

Source: http://sweetandsimplethings.blogspot.com/search/label/Rainbows

 

2.  Make Your Own Super Bouncy Balls

Rating: parental supervision recommended

Colourful plastic balls - background

Why buy bouncy balls when you can make them?

You’ll need white glue, borax powder – located in most laundry detergent aisles – food coloring, corn starch, warm water, two plastic cups and two wooden craft sticks.

First, pour a tablespoon of glue into one of the cups. Add a few drops of food dye and stir with one of the craft sticks until mixed.

In the other cup, combine one-half teaspoon of borax with 2 tablespoons of warm water, then stir until dissolved. This is now your borax solution. Take one teaspoon of borax solution and one tablespoon of cornstarch and add both to the glue mixture.

Let this mixture stand for 15 seconds, then stir until it becomes too thick to keep stirring. You can now remove the mixture from the cup and roll it into a ball. It will be sticky at first, but keep rolling and it will smooth out into a solid.

Now it will bounce! See how high it will go. For a larger ball, simply double each ingredient.

Bouncy balls bounce so high because they have great elasticity. When a rubber ball hits the ground it gets compressed, or squished, and because it is very elastic, it quickly returns to its original shape.

Source: http://www.hometrainingtools.com/a/make-a-colorful-bouncy-ball

 

3.  Create a Greenhouse in a CD Case

Rating: parental supervision recommended

cd case greenhouse

Here’s a really cool way to not just grow a plant, but see the whole process in action.

You’ll need a clear CD case, potting soil, a small bowl, lima beans or pinto beans, an eyedropper, water, clear tape and a permanent marker.

To create the greenhouse, begin by opening the CD case and removing the tray that holds the CD. Place a handful of soil into the bowl and use the dropper to add water until it is wet – but don’t let it become muddy.

Fill the empty case halfway with soil, leaving space for the plant to grow. Place your bean in the middle of the soil with the concave side facing toward the bottom – so it looks like a frown.

Add a few more drops of water to the bean and then close the case so it stands upright with the hinge at the top. Tape up any gaps and let it grow. It should take roughly 10 days to germinate. To illustrate your plant’s growth for your child, mark its progress on the outside of the case with a permanent marker.

Source: http://www.2busybrunettes.com/2012/03/08/its-time-to-spill-the-beans/

 

4.  It’s Bath Time Rain Clouds

Rating: parental supervision required

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

Summer brings every imaginable type of cloud, from fluffy white stratus clouds to the dark cumulonimbus clouds that accompany a summer storm. A great way to introduce kids to the concept of rain is this fun experiment that can be done outdoors or even at bath time.

All you need is a clear glass or jar, water, blue food dye, a dropper for the food dye and shaving cream.

Have your child pour water into the glass slowly, filling it almost to the rim. Then carefully add a layer of shaving cream to the surface of the water – not too thick. Explain that the shaving cream is a cloud and the water is the atmosphere.

Add a few drops of dye to the shaving cream. Its weight will slowly push through the shaving cream and fall down through the water. This represents rain building up in clouds and then falling.

Source: http://laughingkidslearn.com/rain-cloud-science-experiment/

 

5.  Create Elephant’s Toothpaste

Rating: DIY for kids

elephant toothpaste

Teach your kids about chemical reactions while adding a silly spin. You won’t need much, just a plastic bottle, warm water, yeast, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and food dye.

Place the bottle in a pan or sink so the reaction overflow is contained (Tip:  there will be overflow!). In a separate container, mix 2 tablespoons of warm water with 1 tablespoon of yeast.

In the bottle, mix a half-cup of hydrogen peroxide, four to five drops of food dye and a squirt of dish soap.

Pour the yeast mixture into the bottle, and voila! Have your child touch the bottle and feel the warmth of the reaction releasing energy as heat.

The hydrogen peroxide is composed of two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms, and when exposed to light and yeast, it rapidly breaks down into separate water and oxygen. The dish soap then catches the oxygen and bubbles, and the food dye creates a colorful reaction.

Source: https://preschoolpowolpackets.blogspot.ca/2012/01/science-experiment-elephant-toothpaste.html

 

6.  Do You Really Need Sunscreen?

Rating: DIY for Kids

do you really need sunscreen

To preface, the answer is yes. Did you ever wonder why?

A lot of kids hate sunscreen, as it can feel like a hassle and a barrier between them and getting outside to play. Use this experiment to get them thinking a little differently about skin protection.

All you need is a bottle of sunscreen and some dark construction paper. You can go even further by testing different SPFs or the lens from a UV-resistant pair of sunglasses.

Have your child apply sunscreen to one half of the paper. He or she can leave a handprint or draw a design. Make sure that the other half of the paper remains untouched. Draw a line and label each side if need be.

Leave the paper out in the sun for a couple hours at most and you will see results. Definitely a teachable moment.

Source: http://www.playdoughtoplato.com/kids-science-sunscreen-science/

 

7.  Make Dancing Oobleck

Rating: Adult supervision recommended

dancing oobleck

Oobleck, if you haven’t heard of it, is a fascinating material – sometimes a solid, sometimes a liquid, but always fascinating.

To make your own, it’s two parts cornstarch to one part water. Have fun playing!

What’s even more fun is to make the oobleck dance. If you have the materials, let your kids play and experiment with the oobleck while you set up.

You’ll need a subwoofer, a thin metal baking sheet, optional food dye and an audio file to feed through the subwoofer – preferably something with a substantial amount of bass.

Simply place the oobleck on the sheet, and then the sheet onto the subwoofer. From here, it’s just a matter of watching as the material responds to the beat and intensity of the audio.

So why does it act so weird?  Applying pressure to the mixture increases its viscosity (thickness). A quick tap on the surface of Oobleck will make it feel hard, because it forces the cornstarch particles together. But dip your hand slowly into the mix, and see what happens—your fingers slide in as easily as through water. Moving slowly gives the cornstarch particles time to move out of the way.

Oobleck and other pressure-dependent substances (such as Silly Putty and quicksand) are not liquids such as water or oil. They are known as non-Newtonian fluids. The silly name comes from a Dr. Seuss book called Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

 

8.  Grow Your Own Geodes

Rating: adult supervision required

grow your own geodes

Geodes are a beautiful, natural geological phenomenon.  Geodes start their lives as a hollow bubble inside a layer of rock. The bubble could be from air inside explosive volcanic rock or it could come from the hollow remains of animal burrows or tree roots.  Imagine one of those bubbles completely surrounded by black or red volcanic rock. As rain pelts down on the hot bubble, the chemicals in the rock are slowly released into the water. Some of the water soaks through the hard, rocky outside of the bubble and is trapped for a moment on the inside.  As the mineral-rich water moves on through the bubble, tiny crystals are left behind, clinging to the sides of the bubble. Millions of years pass while this in-and-out flow of water gradually builds crystals inside the empty space.

Now you can make them with the relative ease of dying eggs.

The ingredients are a little less orthodox, but worth the hunt. You’ll need potassium aluminum sulfate, better known as alum powder, which you can find on the internet. You’ll also need plastic eggshells, glue, a paintbrush, an empty egg carton, a large bowl, a whisk and a measuring cup.  Food dye is optional.

The day before the experiment, paint the eggshells – inside and out – with a thin layer of glue. Sprinkle them with a thin layer of alum powder and let them sit in the egg carton overnight to dry.

The next day, if you’re using food dye, mix it into 2 cups of water in the bowl. Heat the water to nearly boiling – about five minutes in the microwave should do.

Add 3 cups of alum powder and stir until there are nearly no crystals left. Make sure the crystals are saturated, but not overly wet. Pour the mixture into the eggshells – which should be in the egg carton at this point – and wait.

How long? That’s up to you – the longer you wait, the better the crystals will turn out!

Source: http://www.feelslikehomeblog.com/2013/03/how-to-grow-your-own-crystal-geodes-cool-science-experiment-for-kids/

 

9.  Build an Alka Seltzer Lava Lamp

Rating: adult supervision required

alka seltzer lava lamp

This one is incredibly easy, and another fun chemical reaction that will have your kids ooh-ing and ahh-ing.

Simply fill a clear glass vase or other clear bottle about two-thirds of the way full with vegetable oil. Then add water until there are only a couple inches of air space left at the top.

Add five drops of food coloring. Then the fun begins – you’ll need Alka Seltzer tablets – or a generic brand. Separate the tablets into quarters, and have your child drop a quarter tablet in.

The sodium bicarbonate – also known as baking soda – and citric acid contained within the tablets dissolves and releases carbon dioxide bubbles, which then mix the oil and colored water into a hypnotic display.

Continue to add quarter tablets as the bubbles run out.

Source: http://jollyjansen.blogspot.ca/2011/10/fizzy-fun-preschool-science-activity_18.html

 

10.  Create Edible Rock Candy Strings

Rating: adult supervision required

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Everyone loves sweets, but what’s even more fun is doing an experiment where you make your own. There are a few different ways to go about making rock candy, but this is the classic version.

Your only ingredients are 4 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water – food dye is optional if you want to color your candy. You’ll also need a small saucepan, a wooden spoon, a small, clean, clear glass jar, cotton string, a small weight to hang on the string, such as a washer or screw, wax paper, and a stick or pencil.

Heat the sugar and water in the saucepan, stirring until completely clear and dissolved. Add the food dye now if you plan to use it.

Remove the solution from the heat and pour it into the jar, covering the jar with wax paper.

Cut your string so it is about two-thirds as long as the jar is deep, and then tie one end to the weight and the other end to the pencil. Dip the string into the sugar solution.

Lay the string on another piece of wax paper, straighten it and let it dry overnight. Once dry, place the pencil on the lip of the jar so the string is dangling into the solution. Let it sit at room temperature for several days – you can keep checking back to see the progress of crystal growth.

You can explain to your kids that the crystal’s shapes are determined by the way individual sugar molecules stack and fit together.

Source: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/rock-candy

 

11.  Create Rock Candy Geodes

Rating: adult supervision required

rock candy geodes

If you want to take your rock candy a step further, you can try making edible geodes instead.

As mentioned earlier, geodes occur naturally – they look like rocks on the outside but contain beautiful crystals on the inside.

Candy geodes are a little less common in nature, but they’re a whole lot tastier. Check out the video for the extra steps that will turn your plain rock candy into a geode.

 

12.  Cook Up Jurassic Park Amber Lollipops

Rating: adult supervision required

jurassic park amber lollipops

If you’re feeling more creative, you can try this fossil-themed recipe for amber lollipops for another candy treat. You can give kids a taste of how ancient bugs were trapped within tree sap by giving them a visual with candy bugs trapped inside the hardened sugar of the pops.

Check out this video to learn how.

 

13.  Make Citrus Suds Eruptions

Rating: adult supervision recommended

citrus suds eruptions

This awesome hands-on activity is great for kids to not only watch, but get a little messy with. Don’t worry, it involves soap.

You will need clear hand soap, warm water, food dye, baking soda, citric acid, several small plastic cups and a large plastic tub.

Mix one-quarter cup of clear hand soap, food dye and three-quarter cups of warm water in each small cup to create suds.

Have your kids scoop 2 tablespoons of baking soda into each cup and mix. Then have them add 2 tablespoons of citric acid, letting them know it’s the secret ingredient.

This will create a long-lasting eruption that grows the more you mix it. The reaction is endothermic, meaning all heat is absorbed during the reaction to create super cold foam. Best of all for parents, if you don’t use food coloring, you can use this mixture as a homemade, natural-ingredient cleaning solution for your household surfaces.

Source: http://www.kidsplaybox.com/science-experiments-kids-lemon-suds-eruptions/

 

14.  Create Invisible Ink

Rating: adult supervision required

invisible ink

Possibly one of the easiest science experiments of all time is invisible ink. You need lemon juice, water, white paper and a cotton Q-tip or small paintbrush.

Just dilute lemon juice with water in a small dish, dip your writing utensil into the lemon juice and write your message.

Hold your message up to a heat source – such as a lamp – and reveal your message.

Because lemon juice is organic, it oxidizes when heated, causing it to turn brown. Diluting it makes it invisible on paper until heated. You can try this with other juices and natural liquids, too.

Source: http://www.minieco.co.uk/message-in-bottle/

 

15.  Find out What’s It Like to Be a Polar Bear

Rating: adult supervision required

be like a polar bear

For kids who love animals, this experiment will help them better connect with the animal world by imitating the body of a polar bear using a rubber glove, plastic wrap and shortening.

Fill a bowl with icy water and have your kids put their hands in the bowl for as long as they can. You can use a stopwatch to show them their exact time. Stop them at around 30 seconds, however, so they don’t cause any harm to their hand. They will at least get a sense for the temperature of the water.

Next, have one child put on a rubber glove – don’t worry if their fingers aren’t long enough. Just have them make a fist instead. Cover the gloved hand with shortening. Be generous and make sure the whole fist is thoroughly covered. Then wrap the shortening-covered hand with plastic wrap.

Have your child dip their gloved hand into the water, and they won’t feel a thing. You can explain that the body of a polar bear has adapted so that they feel comfortable in icy water. You can easily slip the glove off of one child’s hand and onto another so everyone can try.

The work of an insulator (like a polar bears fat, or like the shortening in our experiment) is apparent when there is a constant source of heat. Since you are a warm-blooded mammal, your hand keeps sending out heat into the fat you’ve placed around it, and this heat stays close by because that fat is an insulator. When you place your hand directly into the water, the heat from your hand moves into the water because there is no insulator between you and the environment. It’s like heading outside without a sweater on a cold day: your body heat starts to go out into the environment around you. When you wear a sweater, your heat stays close.

Source: http://discoverandlearn.blogspot.ca/2010/01/animals-in-winter.html

 

 

There are tons of other science experiments out there to try with kids. They’ll be having so much fun, they won’t even realize they’re learning.

Which one was your favorite?  Leave a comment below!

 

This article was a guest post by Megan Ray Nichols, who loves discussing the latest scientific discoveries with others on her blog Schooled By Science. You can follow her on twitter @nicholsrmegan

 

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