DIY Science Experiments
Carl Sagan once said that “every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist.”
Kids are naturally curious about the world around them, and we should be facilitators of that curiosity within them!
By allowing children to conduct experiments themselves, ask questions, search for the answers, and collect and analyze data, we are enabling them to be active learners and more inquisitive students.
Science experiments don’t always have to be done in a lab with harsh chemicals and hazardous materials. We created a list of fun and exciting experiments that your child can do at home!
- A clear and clean plastic bottle (one with smooth sides is best)
- Vegetable Oil (or you could use Baby oil instead)
- Alka Seltzer tablets
- Food Coloring
- A Funnel (optional)
- Fill the bottle up about a quarter (1/4) of the way with water.
- Use your funnel to help you pour the vegetable oil into the bottle until the bottle is almost full. Allow this to sit a few minutes to let the water and vegetable oil separate fully (the bubbles will disappear once settled). Why do you think this happens? Spend some time thinking about it.
- Add a few drops of food coloring to your bottle and watch as the color droplets sink below the vegetable oil. Why do you think the food coloring sinks into the water?
- Break 1 Alka Seltzer tablet in half and drop both halves in the bottle. Watch your lava lamp start working!
How it Works:
The vegetable oil floats on top of the water because it is less dense (or lighter) than water. The food coloring has the same density as the water… so it also sinks beneath the oil and the color mixes with the water. Alka Seltzer is a headache medicine that has an acid and a base in it. When those acids and bases mix in water, it causes the Alka Seltzer to fizz up, create bubbles, and make carbon dioxide. When the Alka Seltzer tablet sinks into the water, it starts to dissolve and carbon dioxide, which is a gas that is lighter than water. So, the gas bubbles float up to the top of the bottle. These gas bubbles carry up some of the colored water with them to the top. When the gas bubble reaches the top, the air comes out of the bubble and the colored water gets heavy again and sinks back down. This will happen until the Alka Seltzer tablet is completely dissolved.
- A bowl.
- ½ cup of whole milk
- Dish soap (a teaspoon will do)
- Food coloring (more than one color works best)
- Pour the ½ cup of milk into the bowl carefully.
- Put one drop of each color in different places in the milk.
- Dip the one end of the toothpick into the soap and touch it to one of the colors or anywhere in the bowl. Watch what happens!
- To clean up, just pour the milk down the drain. It is NOT safe to drink!
How it Works:
Milk is made up of water, fats, and proteins. Food coloring is less dense than the milk, so it floats on top of it. The fat in the milk is all connected together with bonds. Dish soaps are used to clean dirty dishes because it is made to break up the bonds in fats allowing them to separate. So, when you add dish soap to your milk, the fats separate making the milk move and create your magical milk art!
- Any flavor of bottled soda (works best with a 16oz or 20oz soda in a plastic bottle)
- A freezer
- Start with a room temperature soda and shake up the bottle. Do NOT open!
- Place the bottle in the freezer for 3 hours without disturbing it.
- Once 3 hours or so has passed, test to see if the drink is supercooled. There are a few ways to do this. One way is by putting an ice cube in a glass and pouring the soda on top of the ice cube. If it is supercooled, the soda will immediately turn into the consistency of a slushie. Another way is to slowly pour the soda into an empty glass and drop an ice cube into the soda to initiate the freezing. Lastly, you can open the bottle to release the pressure and then reseal the bottle tightly and turn the bottle upside down, giving it a quick shake. This should cause the soda to freeze inside the bottle and you can pour your slushie into a cup.
How it Works:
Supercooling a liquid means chilling it to below its normal freezing point without turning it into a solid. By shaking the soda before placing it in the freezer, carbon dioxide molecules are coming out of the liquid solution (the soda), which increases the pressure inside the bottle. The increased pressure causes the bottle’s freezing point to drop below its natural freezing point, allowing the soda to remain a liquid. However, once you remove the bottle from the freezer and open it up to release the pressure that has been built up, the freezing point returns back to its natural freezing point. However, it needs something that ice crystals can grow on. So, by pouring the soda onto an ice cube (or by adding an ice cube after pouring the soda), it causes the soda to instantly freeze, leaving you with a slushie!