5 Simple At-Home Science ExperimentsSeptember 29, 2020
Children are natural born scientists. They aren’t afraid to play with their food or see how high they can stack a tower just to knock it down. So why not channel that energy into a new way of learning? There are so many science experiments that you can do at home with very minimal effort (although, there may be a little mess!). Help pique your children’s interest or keep them busy with these fun experiments! Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something new along the way.
Slime is all the rage these days—and it is simple to make at home! Ditch the store-bought slime, and grab Elmer’s white school glue, contact solution, and baking soda. Follow these instructions:
- Pour glue into a bowl and add one tablespoon of baking soda
- Add any food coloring (optional)
- Gently stir in about 1 ½ tablespoons of contact solution. If it is too sticky, add an additional ½ tablespoon of contact solution until it feels like the right consistency
- If you want, you can incorporate add-ins such as glitter, mini styrofoam balls, or scented oils. Feel free to let your children get creative with their customization!
The science of slime: The polyvinyl alcohol found in the glue mixes with the borate ion found in the baking soda and an endothermic reaction occurs. An endothermic reaction is when a chemical reaction happens and is accompanied by the adsorption of heat. This causes the mixture to become a non-Newtonian fluid, which means that the slime is neither a liquid or a solid!
Soap and Pepper Experiment
This is a great experiment to help your little one learn about germs and the importance of soap, which is a great lesson to learn during a global pandemic. All you need for this experiment is a shallow dish (a pie plate works great), some ordinary black pepper, water, and some liquid dish soap.
- Fill the dish with a layer of water
- Sprinkle black pepper over the water, which will float on the top from surface tension
- Have your little one stick their finger in the bowl. What happened? Did they get some pepper on their finger? Imagine that the pepper represents germs
- This time have them dip their finger in the dish soap and then back into the pepper-water mixture
- Watch how the pepper runs away from their finger! The soap scares the germs away
- Keep on washing those hands
The science: Pepper is hydrophobic, which means that water is not attracted to it, and this is why the pepper floats on the surface of the water. Soap is able to break down the surface tension of the water, which is the reason it is such an effective cleaner. The water molecules that create the surface tension want to stay connected, so when soap is introduced to the water, the molecules spread away, and take the pepper with them.
If you have some time, this is an easy experiment that you can watch unfold over a few days. All you need is a tall glass, an egg and some white vinegar!
- Place an egg in a tall glass and cover it entirely with vinegar
- You should see tiny bubbles forming on the shell
- Leave the egg in the vinegar for a full 24 hours
- Carefully change the vinegar on the second day
- Leave the glass to sit in a safe place for 7 days, and don’t disturb the egg! Look and see periodically how the vinegar affects the egg
- After that week, pour the vinegar out and carefully rinse the egg
- There is no hard shell left- just the egg membrane! You used vinegar to strip the shell of the chemicals that give it its strength.
The science: The bubbles that form on the egg are carbon dioxide, and vinegar is an acid called acetic acid. Eggshells are made up of calcium carbonate. The acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the calcium carbonate, which is why bubbles form around the egg. Also, the egg looks translucent when you shine a flashlight through it because the hard outside shell is gone. The reason the egg is bigger than it was before is because of osmosis, which is when water flows through a semipermeable membrane that is exposed now that the hard shell is no longer there.
Sprout a Bean!
Watching something grow is one of the simple pleasures in life. But why not grow a bean so you can actually see the roots grow? For this experiment, you need a broad bean (also called a fava bean), a jar, a paper towel, and some water.
- Swirl a small amount of water around the jar
- Slightly dampen the paper towel and place it inside the jar
- Put the bean in the jar on the towel
- Spray some water on the beans every 5 days
- In a few days, you’ll see roots begin to grow and started germinating
- You can also do two versions of this experiment: one in the light and one in the dark! You’ll notice that the bean does not need light or any other nutrients to grow.
The science: Germination is the development of a plant from a seed or a spore after a period of dormancy.
Pop Rocks Inflated
Got any old candy lying around? To see a chemical reaction, you need a bottle of soda, a packet of pop rocks, a balloon, and a small funnel.
- Using the funnel, carefully fill the balloon with the Pop Rocks
- Gently stretch the balloon opening over the neck of the bottle, making sure not to get any of the Pop Rocks in the soda prematurely. The balloon should be hanging over the side of the bottle.
- When you are ready, grab the lowest point of the balloon, and hold it up so the Pop Rocks fall into the soda.
- Watch the balloon inflate!
The science: Each little particle of pop rocks actually contains a small amount of carbon dioxide, which creates the popping sound that gives the candy its name. The carbon dioxide in the candy, mixed with the carbon dioxide of the soda, creates tiny bubbles that then cause the balloon to inflate!
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