There are lots of reasons you might be stuck at home with the kids right now — and some of them might have nothing to do with the coronavirus.
Just because your kids are out school doesn’t mean they can’t learn something. We’ve found five science experiments that are so cool your kids won’t even realize they’re learning. The best part is that you probably already have all the stuff you’ll need. Just click on the experiment title and follow the instructions.
What you’ll need: sugar, water, string or bamboo skewers, a clothespin, a glass jar, and flavorings and food coloring (both optional)
This experiment will reward a child’s patience — it might take a week for crystals to form — with a sweet treat at the end. Mom or dad will have to help with this experiment, because it involves using the stove to boil water.
The science: According to exploratorium.edu, two things contribute to the formation of the sugar crystals. One is that you have created a “supersaturated solution by first heating a saturated sugar solution (a solution in which no more sugar can dissolve at a particular temperature) and then allowing it to cool.” The other is evaporation. “As the water evaporates, the solution becomes more saturated and sugar molecules will continue to come out of the solution and collect on the seed crystals” on your skewers.
What you’ll need: clean, clear 1 liter soda bottle; ¾ cup of water; vegetable oil; fizzing tablets (like Alka Seltzer) or table salt; food coloring
You can add glitter or sparkles to this if you prefer, and shine a light through it for a true lava lamp experience.
The science: According to Bob at sciencebob.com, this works because oil and water don’t mix. Why not? Because of “intermolecular polarity,” which means water molecules like other water molecules, and oil molecules like other oil molecules. When you add the fizzing tablet, it creates gas bubbles that rise and take colored water with them. When the bubbles reach the top, the gas escapes and the water falls.
Salt, on the other hand, reacts with the oil. According to Mad Science: “Salt is heavier than both water and oil, so it sinks to the bottom of the glass. As the salt sinks it pulls some of the oil down with it, trapping it at the bottom of the glass. As the salt dissolves in the water, the trapped oil escapes. It slowly rises back to the surface, creating the cool goopy lava lamp effect.”
What you’ll need: empty pizza box; aluminum foil; ruler; box cutter or scissors; glue; black construction paper; clear packing tape; clear page protectors; wooden skewer
We’re all going to have a few empty pizza boxes before this over. We can’t guarantee there will any sun, however. If the clouds depart for a day, this will make an oven any kid will be allowed to touch.
The science: According to stevespanglerscience.com the cooker “works on the principle of collecting heat energy and retaining or directing it for cooking.” The actual “cooking” surface is black construction paper because black retains heat. As heat is retained, the air inside the oven also heats up and the plastic helps hold it in the small space. To test your cooker, place a marshmallow and piece of chocolate on a graham cracker and have your s’mores baked by the sun.
What you’ll need: a glass; vinegar; eggs
This might be the easiest experiment, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. Steve Spangler at SICK Science breaks down three ways you can use these three items to entertain your kids.
The science: The bubbles you’ll see forming on the egg’s shell are carbon dioxide. Vinegar is an acid, and eggshells are made up of calcium carbonate “The acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the calcium carbonate in the eggshell to make calcium acetate plus water and carbon dioxide that you see as bubbles on the surface of the shell,” Spangler writes.
After 24 hours, remove the egg from the vinegar and drop it into the sink to see it bounce.
After a week, the shell will be dissolved and the egg will be translucent.
Using a boiled egg, write a message on the shell before putting it in a glass of vinegar. The message will still be visible after the rest of the shell dissolves.
Instructables.com has a few ideas for what to do with your Oobleck once it’s mixed. You can grab a handful and squeeze it, or put it in a plastic container and shake it to see what happens. Or you can put it on a subwoofer and play some low frequencies at high volume. Sound familiar? You might have seen it on “The Big Bang Theory.”
The science: Oobleck is a non-newtonian fluid, which means it acts like a liquid when being poured but like a solid when a force is acting on it.
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