Fun Science Experiments For Children to Try at Home

By  Posted in the Claire’s Corner – 28th May 2020.

With access to school limited by the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, children need lots of things to do at home. While there’s important ‘school stuff’ they still need to learn, there’s surely room for some fun too! So why not combine fun and education and try out our 15 Fun Science experiments?

My name is Claire Mitchell, mother of two, keen author and lover of anything to do with science.

My family really enjoyed these home science experiments and we’re sure you will too!

Each one of the experiments listed below is designed to excite curiosity, produce some amazing outcomes, create lots of laughter and introduce some science facts they’ll never forget.

But first: An important note for parents:

Whilst these experiments are not harmful, each one will require ACTIVE PARENT SUPERVISION. Some include steps which MUST be performed by an adult. Always follow the instructions, and use your judgement when deciding the extent to which you allow children to handle materials and processes.

1. Make Your Own Ice Cream

Ice cream - chocolateList of materials:

– 2 zip-lock freezer bags (1 large, gallon-size bag; 1 small, quart-size bag)
– 4 oz of cream
– 4 oz of milk
– 4 teaspoons of sugar
– ¼ teaspoon of vanilla flavouring for vanilla ice cream (OR chocolate syrup for chocolate flavour)
– plenty of ice cubes
– ½ cup of rock salt
– food colourings (add if you want to make colours)

Instructions:

Place your cream, milk, sugar, flavouring and colouring in the small zip-lock bag. Then securely zip the bag. Check to make sure it is completely closed. Now place around a cupful of ice cubes in the large bag along with one small handful of salt.

For the next step, place the small bag with all its contents inside the large bag. Once this is done, keep filling your large bag with more and more ice and salt.

When your large bag is nearly full, it must be securely zipped shut just like before. Now, take hold of each side of the bag and shake it firmly for around 5-8 minutes. Move your hands up and down as if you were handling a car steering wheel.

Open your large bag and remove the small one inside. You’ll find it now contains ice cream! Run the tap to rinse off any unwanted salt left on the small bag.

Open your ice cream and taste the flavour!

SCIENCE FACTS: Adding salt to your ice causes the ice to melt. But to do this the ice must “borrow” heat from the materials around it (called an “endothermic” process). All the other ingredients are warmer than ice, so this process actually made them colder. That’s why they were able to freeze together to make delicious ice cream!

2. Create a Floating Orb

floating orb experimentList of materials:

– a pair of scissors
– a piece of PVC pipe 2.5cm (1 inch) wide and around 60cm (24 inches) long
– very fine mylar Christmas tinsel. Try to find some around 1 millimetre in width – or at least as thin and narrow as possible. Please note: thicker, non-mylar tinsels will probably be just too heavy to float.
– someone with clean and dry hair

Instructions:

Stretch out 6 strands of mylar tinsel, each about 9 inches long. Use one knot to tie the strands together at one end. Next, tie the strands in another knot around 6 inches away from the first. Trim away the loose mylar strands at each end to leave neat and tidy knots. This will be your floating orb.

Now – for 10 seconds – rub the PVC pipe backwards and forwards through your hair.

Holding one knotted end of your orb up above the PVC pipe, let it drop down so it touches the pipe surface. You should now see it start to float above the pipe. (If not, it’s too thick and/or the wrong kind of tinsel).

Each time you float the orb, you will need to rub the pipe through your hair again to “recharge” its power.

SCIENCE FACTS: This is all about static electricity. When you rub the pipe through your hair, the pipe is charged with negative static electricity. The orb is positively charged, so at first it floats towards your pipe. Once the orb makes contact, it receives a negative charge. The two negative charges now repel one another – so the orb just floats off!

Watch how the orb becomes more rounded – this is because each negative strand is also struggling to get away from the others. You may notice too that the orb can be attracted to other objects, and even you. Why? Because many objects (and humans) have their own positive static charge.

3. Make Your Own Coloured Flowers

CarnationList of Materials:

– a supply of white carnations from the florist
– food colourings to colour your flowers
– small clear glasses or tumblers
– a pair of scissors
– a supply of water

Instructions:

Fill a glass with clear cold water. Choose one of your favourite colours, and add that colour to the water. Be sure to use plenty of colouring so that you get strongly coloured water.

Trim the stem of one carnation flower by about a centimetre. Place your flower in the coloured water.

Wait patiently: It can take anything from a few hours to a couple of days, but you will start to see the petals slowly change colour. Keep an eye on the leaves because they can sometimes change too!
You can now make your own flowers in any colour you choose.

Going one step further, you can split the stems (ADULTS ONLY: with a sharp craft knife). Then place each stem into its own glass containing different coloured water. This way, you’ll get multi-coloured petals! How about that?

SCIENCE FACTS: Like all plants, your carnation draws water up the stem by a process called “transpiration”. This water then evaporates through the leaves and petals, which causes the plant to suck up even more water. How quickly this happens depends on your local climate conditions. So the water will travel faster on hot days.

4. Crack the Egg Challenge

eggs in trayList of materials:

– a glass or cup filled with water (into which an egg will comfortably fit)
– a 25cm (10 inch) piece of flat cardboard, OR a small tray smooth at the bottom
– a cardboard toilet paper tube (or paper towel tube)
– an uncooked egg

Instructions:

Centre the flat tray on top of the cup of water. Stand the cardboard tube on end in the exact centre of the tray. Carefully place your egg horizontally on top of the tube.

Now, take careful aim and strike the tray with the palm of your hand. You need enough force in the blow to get the cardboard tube and tray to fly off. But you need to control your effort to avoid actually hitting the cup of water!

If your technique is good, the cardboard tube and tray will be swept away, while the egg lands safely in the water!

SCIENCE FACTS: This trick relies on “inertia” – the amount of energy it takes to move an object. Both the tube and the tray are very lightweight (low mass) objects which can be easily moved. However, the egg is heavy for its size, giving it more inertia. That means your egg should stay in position, and gravity will ensure it drops down into the water.

5. Rocket Scientist: Launch a Film Canister Rocket

rocket List of materials:

– water
– pair of safety goggles
– empty plastic film canister with lid (35mm)
– a fizzy Alka-Seltzer antacid tablet (or similar – talk to your parents)

Instructions:

1. Do this experiment in the garden, wearing safety goggles
2. Break your tablet in half
3. Open your film canister and add 1 teaspoon of water (= 5ml)

These remaining steps MUST BE DONE FAST

4. Put half your tablet into the film canister, then snap the lid tight shut
5. Stand your canister upside down on the ground (with the lid at the bottom)
6. STAND AT LEAST 2 METRES AWAY

In around 10 seconds, your rocket will launch into the sky with a loud POP!

Warning: Wait 30 seconds before approaching any launch failure – usually caused by gas leaking from a loose lid.

SCIENCE FACTS: Carbon dioxide gas is released as the water dissolves your antacid tablet. A strong build up of gas pressure eventually blasts open the lid, and that thrust launches your rocket skywards. NASA rockets use the same idea to generate thrust and launch themselves into space.

6. Make a Balloon Audio Speaker

red balloonList of materials:

– one plastic balloon

Instructions:

– Blow air into your balloon until it is full. Then tie a knot to seal it.
– Put the balloon against your ear.
– Tap your finger gently against the far side of the balloon.

You should hear that sound really loud and clear – just like your own personal audio speaker! You will also notice the vibrating sound your tapping creates.

SCIENCE FACTS: Your blowing forced air (which is a gas) into the balloon under pressure. With lots of air filling the balloon, the air molecules inside were squeezed very tightly together. When air molecules are so tightly packed they allow sound waves to pass through very easily.

Soundwaves also travel faster through warm air than cold – so blowing up the balloon with your breath already at body temperature is another clever feature of this balloon smart speaker!

7. Home-made Butter

butterList of materials:

– spoon
– 8 ounce plastic container with a screw-top
– ½ cup of whipping cream
– ¼ teaspoon of salt

Instructions:

Open your plastic container and pour in the whipping cream. Your container must not be more than half full. Now add ¼ teaspoon of salt and screw the lid on tight to seal the contents inside.

Next, shake the container continuously to get the sloshy liquid moving about. After around 7-9 minutes, you will see the cream is no longer slopping around and has turned into a yellow-coloured blob.

You have now made your own pure butter, just like the farmer’s wife once did by hand-turning a wooden butter churn! Serve it at the table on a small dish.

SCIENCE FACTS: Constantly churning the whipping cream eventually causes droplets of butterfat to separate. They then reform, but now as one single blob of pure yellow butter. Scientists use the term “emulsion” to describe when one liquid ends up suspended in another. So churning turns fat-in-water (cream) into water-in-fat (butter)

8. Fizzy Orange Slices

orangesList of materials:

– one orange (or a clementine/ satsuma)
– ½ teaspoon of baking soda

Instructions:

1. Slice your orange, or peel and then separate each section.
2. Take one section and dip it into your baking soda.
3. Bite into your orange section. While you chew, it will begin to really bubble and fizz in your mouth!

SCIENCE FACTS: Mixing acid and a base material together can create some exciting chemical reactions. Like all citrus fruits, oranges contain citric acid. Though citrus fruits are safe to eat, it’s this citric acid which makes them taste sour. Adding some baking soda, which is not an acid, releases lots and lots of carbon dioxide bubbles. We all breathe out carbon dioxide gas, which is also an important ingredient of many fizzy drinks.

9. An Artwork Experience with Milk

List of materials:

– ½ cup of milk
– one shallow bowl
– some washing-up liquid
– some cotton swabs
– a selection of different food colourings

Instructions:

1. Start by pouring your milk into the shallow bowl. This experiment will work best if the surface of the milk remains as smooth and still as possible – so try not to move the bowl around.
2. Place one drop of each food colouring on the surface of the milk. Be sure to keep them separate and well spread out.
3. Using a cotton swab, scoop up a tiny amount of washing-up liquid. Then, very carefully add this to one of your milk colour spots.
4. You will be AMAZED by the swirly milk-art patterns you will be able to create.

Afterwards, DO NOT DRINK ANY OF THE MILK. Just pour the contents of your bowl into a drain.

SCIENCE FACTS: As we saw in the butter experiment (see No. 7), milk can be described as fat-in-water. And when you add the food colouring, it will float on the fatty surface of the milk. This fat is all strongly bonded together. However, soaps and washing-up liquids are designed to break those traces of grease and oil on dirty dishes. So when you add some to your coloured milk, those fats start to separate fast. It’s this chemical reaction which allows the separating fat to make all the wonderful artwork.

10. Make Your Own Supply of Play Dough

List of materials:

– large saucepan or cooking pot
– 3 cups of lukewarm water
– 3 cups of plain flour
– 1.5 cups of salt
– 6 teaspoons cream of tartar
– 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
– selection of food colourings

Instructions:

You will need a responsible adult assistant to help with the cooking!

1. Dissolve the salt in the lukewarm water in your pot.
2. Add all the rest of your ingredients and mix together.
3. Keep constantly stirring the mixture over a medium heat.
4. Your dough is ‘cooked’ when it thickens and begins to form a ball.
5. Allow the dough mixture to cool a little.
6. Knead the warm mixture until it looks like play dough (about 1-2 minutes).
7. Separate the dough into several balls. Place each dough ball inside a sealable plastic bag.
8. Add a colour to each, at first using 5 drops of colour per bag. Knead and mix each dough ball through the bag to avoid colour stains. Add more colouring for deeper colours.
9. Store all bags of home-made play dough in a plastic container.

Your supply of play dough should keep for around three months.

11. Create Your Own Marbled Wrapping Paper

coloured wrapping paperList of materials:

– sheets of computer paper
– shaving foam
– a selection of food colouring
– spoon
– fork
– shallow pan, large enough to hold a sheet of A4 paper
– paper towels

Instructions:

Use your spoon to spread the shaving foam thinly to coat the bottom of your pan. Only a very shallow layer is required. Then add several dots of different food colourings all around the pan.

Next, use the tines of your fork to create wavy lines through each colour. Do not swirl the fork around as you do this, otherwise the colours will start to mix together.

Carefully place a sheet of computer paper on to the coloured layer in your pan. Make sure your paper is smoothed out so that it all comes into contact with all of the coloured shaving foam layer.

Leave the paper in place for thirty seconds. Then remove it and use a paper towel to wipe away the shaving foam. This stage needs to be done with great care so that none of the coloured sections are allowed to run or distort your beautiful wave patterns.

Leave the paper to dry off. If you find any paper starts to curl, ASK AN ADULT to flatten it using an iron on a very low heat setting.

You have now made some personalised wrapping paper you can use to wrap very special gifts.

SCIENCE FACTS: When any one substance takes in another, this chemical or physical process is called “absorption”. Here, the shaving foam absorbed your food colours, and the sheet of computer paper then absorbed the coloured shaving foam. As a result of this absorption, you created a personalised sheet of multi-coloured wrapping paper.

12. A Balloon You Cannot Pop?

List of materials:

– plastic balloon
– 2 lengths of sticky tape, 2 inches long
– small pin, or needle (requires SUPERVISING ADULT)

Instructions:

1. Inflate your balloon.

2. Attach 2 pieces of sticky tape to your balloon to make an “X” shape.

3. With ADULT SUPERVISION, push a pin through the centre of your “X” and into the balloon.

Leave the pin in place and notice the balloon won’t go pop like a normal balloon.

SCIENCE FACTS: Scientists say a balloon goes pop because of “catastrophic crack propagation”. That means it’s the small hole torn in the balloon which causes it to quickly rip and pop. Sticky tape slows down this process: Air gradually escapes, but your balloon won’t go pop!

13. Disco Dancing Hearts

Love heartsList of materials:

– 12 ounce drinking glass
– 8 oz fizzy drink can of 7-up or Sprite
– 12 Love Heart sweets

Instructions:

1. Pour your can of fizzy drink into the glass.
2. Drop in your Love Heart sweets one by one.
3. Watch how your Love Hearts begin disco dancing up and down the glass.

SCIENCE FACTS: The fizzy carbon dioxide bubbles attach to the sweets, pick them up, and send them rapidly to the surface. The bubbles then burst in air, allowing the sweets to sink back down to the bottom of the glass. The process repeats over and over.

14. Create Your Own Dancing Halloween Ghost

Fancy some spooky science? Try this easy way to create a scary ghost figure:

List of materials:

– one piece of tissue paper
– a plastic balloon
– a pair of scissors
– someone with clean and dry hair
– some ghostly music of your choice

Instructions:

1. Start by cutting your tissue to create a ghost shape around 4cm (1.5 inches) long. Check if your tissue has a double layer. If so, peel off one layer to leave your Halloween ghost looking as thin as possible. So your ghost won’t be lonely, why not cut out a few more spooky shapes to share the dance floor? Lay all your ghosts out flat, and dot in their eyes with a felt pen.

2. Inflate your balloon and give it a static charge by rubbing it very rapidly through your hair for around 10 seconds.

3. Bring your balloon slowly down near a ghost. Watch how it begins to rise up towards your balloon. When there is enough charge in your balloon, a ghost will fly right up to the balloon. With some practice, you’ll soon get your ghost rising, floating and dancing about.

There’s a way to make your ghost move around without sticking on your balloon: Just use clear sticky tape to stick the bottom end of the ghost to the table. You can then use the balloon to control how your ghost dances.

SCIENCE FACTS: As the balloon is rubbed through your hair, it collects a negative charge of invisible electrons. Stuck to the balloon’s surface, these electrons are powerful enough to pull any positively charged light object toward them. That’s what makes your spooks dance to your scary music!

15. Make an Incredible Exploding Lunch Bag

List of materials:

– a small zip-up freezer bag
– a measuring cup
– a tissue
– warm water
– vinegar
– baking soda

Instructions:

Try this outside in the garden:

1. Add ¼ cup of fairly warm water to your freezer bag. Then add ½ cup of vinegar.

2. Wrap 3 teaspoons of baking soda in the middle of the tissue. Be sure to fold your tissue all around the baking soda.

THE LAST STEPS MUST BE COMPLETED QUICKLY

3. Almost close the zip of the bag. Then quickly add your package of baking soda.
4. Place the tightly closed freezer bag on the ground and STEP WELL AWAY.

The bag will grow and grow until it bursts with a loud POP!

SCIENCE FACTS: Inside the bag, your vinegar and baking soda soon mix. This produces what chemists call an “acid-base reaction”. The two chemicals combine to create carbon dioxide – that’s the air we breathe out. As a gas, carbon dioxide needs lots and lots of room. So it expands through the bag but needs more and more extra space. Eventually, the bag gives way under gas pressure. And that’s when you see, and hear, your exploding lunch bag!

We hope you enjoyed these 15 science experiments for kids and had as much fun as we did! Explore more of our content at Claire’s Corner here at Job Prices.