You’ll love science again with these easy activities!

Crazy scientist. Young boy performing experiments with battery and small lamp.

There is something incredibly cool and satisfying about a good science experiment (that also works the first time!).  It is also a great way of teaching children about the phenomena surrounding us and nature through easy explanations about motion, chemical reactions, optics and sound!

My science education was purely theoretical and very closely connected to maths. Needless to say that because of that and the lack of experiments in classrooms, I never had the right mindset for science and I could never quite make the link between the very abstract equations and real-life phenomena.

So I am always very happy to rediscover science through experiments with my son – who is already very fascinated with motion, cause and effects – and  love seeing how these discoveries feed his bright and inquisitive mind.

Rainbow Paper

rainbow paper science experiment

Via ScienceKiddo.com

In order to achieve this beautiful rainbow effect you will need:

  • A bowl filled with water
  • Clear nail polish
  • Small pieces of black paper

How to make it:

Add 1-2 drops of clear nail polish to the bowl of water. Watch it disperse over the surface of the water.
Quickly dip the paper into the water. Let it dry on a paper towel.
Once it is dry (this only takes a few minutes) tilt the paper in different directions to see the rainbow patterns appear. Hold it next to a sunny window for best results.

The science behind it:

The rainbow colours you see are caused by thin film interference. You will notice that the colours on the paper change as the you tip the paper back and forth. This happens because light hits the paper at different angles as you tip it!

You can also try to make a rainbow with a used compact disc – and explain light refraction to your children this way.

Glow-in-the-Dark Flowers

glow in the dark flowers

Via Funathomewithkids.com

Apparently if you soak a flower in tonic water, it will glow in the dark! Who knew?!

What you’ll need – is some flowers and some tonic water. You can dip your flowers in and check if it worked! There are several ways to do this, such as soaking them upside down and keeping the stems fresh by wrapping them in a moist towel. Another alternative for the tonic water is highlighter water. The highlighter water might require a bit more effort to make but it’s all in the name of science! The highlighter water is made by opening the highlighter pens (by any means you can carefully without hurting yourself) and pulling out the centre. If you ran water through it you can squeeze out the dye. The more concentrated you can make the highlighter water, the brighter the resulting flowers.

Heat Sensitive Colour Changing Slime

Heat Sensitive Colour Changing Slime

Via Leftbraincraftbrain.com

You will need:
1/4 cup white school glue
1 Tablespoons water
3 teaspoons Thermochromic pigment
1/4 cup liquid starch
Food colouring

Now Thermochromism sounds fancy, but it is quite simple, as it is a pigment that changes colour according to temperature. It is exactly the same pigment that is used in those mood rings that some of us had as teenagers 🙂 or in the green lipstick that becomes a dubious shade of pink.

Decide on your colour scheme for the slime as the colour of thermochromic pigment will be the colour of the slime when it is cold. Then pick an alternating colour of food colouring for the hot colour.

Pour 1/4 cup glue into a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon water and stir until combined. Add 5 drop of food colouring and mix well.Then add 3 teaspoons of thermochromic pigment and mix until uniformly distributed.
Add 1/8 cup liquid starch and mix until thick and slimy. Then knead the slime with your hands and return to the starch mixture for another mixing. This step is important because it makes sure there’s no unmixed glue hiding in the centre of your slime ball. If slime is still sticky, add additional starch, a little bit at a time, and knead until not sticky anymore. Most batches will use almost all of the starch.
Store slime in a glass or plastic container with a lid for up to one week.

Shape Animals Inspired by the Gruffalo

Shape animals from the Gruffalo story

Via Theeducatorsspinonit.com

I love this activity as it combines both science (maths, geometrical shapes) AND the love for literature and reading! All you need is some paper and imagination, to make the animals in The Gruffalo book, and teach your kids about various shapes such as rectangle, oval, rounded shape etc.

Cloud in a Jar

cloud in a jar experiment for kids

Via Schoolingamonkey.com

What you need for this is experiment is a clear glass, food colouring (preferably blue) and daddy’s shaving cream!

Fill the glass with water and fill the top of the glass with white shaving cream. The more cream you add, the thicker your cloud will be, but the longer it will take for the food colouring to penetrate the cloud layer.

Have the child(ren) drip drops of food colouring into the “cloud” one at a time. It will take quite a bit of time for the “rain” to come out of the cloud.

After a while, the drops will seep through the shaving cream and it will look like it is raining in the cup!

The science behind this experiment is that the shaving cream cloud represents real clouds. When real clouds become too heavy with liquid, just like the food colouring became too heavy for the shaving cream to hold, they rain.

You can use this activity to talk about the cycle of weather and how the cloud in a cup is different from real clouds and where the water comes from and why it evaporates.

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What will vinegar do to a simple egg?

egg experiment
This is another fun experiment and we all had lots of fun watching the egg grow and seeing how big it can actually grow. However be aware that this experiment takes more than just one day. It’s fun to watch the egg shed its shell and grow.
 
You will need :
  • An egg
  • A glass
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Optional – food colouring if you want to turn it a different colour.
Place your egg gently in the glass, then pour enough vinegar over to cover it. You’ll notice bubbles starting to appear all over the shell. This means the shell is starting to dissolve.While it starts dissolving straight away it takes a while for the shell to dissolve completely.
Egg Vinegar Experiment
Day 1: Shell starts dissolving and carbon dioxide forms on the shell
 
Leave the egg in the vinegar for a day, then rinse it off and replace the vinegar with fresh vinegar. The egg should have shed most of its shell and already become slightly bigger.
 
By the end of day two ours had completely shed its shell and almost doubled in size.
Egg in vinegar without shell
Day 2: Whoa, no more shell!
 
To make the egg even bigger you can place it in a glass of water and leave it overnight. Try adding some food colouring to the water and you can pretend it is a giant alien egg!
Giant egg without shell
Day 3: squishy giant egg – the pale blue hue is given by the food colouring.

And now for the science bit:

When bubbles form on the shell, this means the acetic acid in the vinegar is reacting with the calcium carbonate in the shell and releasing carbon dioxide gas.
When the egg becomes bigger in water, this is because the shell is semi-permeable which means it will let through some water.
toddler holding egg without shell
 
Out of curiosity, after the experiment, we popped the egg. It took a mere touch of the knife and the egg burst (make sure to put it in a bowl though to avoid mess). The egg yolk and the egg white still remained concentrated together while water and vinegar spread throughout in the bowl.
Let us know in the comments if you tried this experiment? We tried adding some good colouring to make the egg blue and it turned a very pale blue.
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Easy science experiment: deep sea diver in a bottle

Did you know that sharks are never still in the water? They swim all the time! This is because they are denser than the water and if they stopped swimming they would sink!

Whether something floats or sinks depends on its density. It’s how we measure how heavy an object is for it’s size. A steel cube, for example, is a lot heavier than an ice cube that’s the same size. If you put them both in water, the steel cube will sink while the ice cube will float. Ice is less dense than water, in other words an ice cube weighs less than a cube of water of the same size.

This deep sea diver experiment is the perfect way to demonstrate the basics of density while having a whole lot of fun too!

You’ll need :

  • A two litre plastic bottle with lid
  • A bendy straw
  • A paper clip
  • A foil tin / clean takeaway container
  • Blue tack
  • Scissors
  • A bowl of water

bottle diver items

Making Your Deep Sea Diver

1. Cut out the shape of your diver from the pie tin, making him tall and thin, about 7 cm by 2 cm so he can fit through the neck of the bottle. Make him simple, just a head , a body and a pair of feet will do.

aluminium diver

2. Bend the straw double, then cut it so that you have a U-shaped piece about 2.5 cm long.

bendy straw

3. Slide the open ends of the straw on to the two ends of the paper clip.

paper clip straw

4. Gently slide the paper clip and straw between the diver’s legs and up on to his body. The straw should be on his back, bent at the top behind his head, looking like a real diver’s air tanks. Make diving boots out of blue tack and put them on his feet.

diver with straw and blue tack boots

5. Try floating your diver in a bowl of water. Carefully adjust the amount of blue tack on his boots until he just floats.

Fill the bottle with water and put the diver inside. Make sure the bottle is full to overflowing then screw the lid on tightly. The diver should float to the top – although ours also sunk gloriously.

diver floating in bottle

 

If you squeeze the bottle the diver will sink to the bottom and if you let go, he’ll float back up. You can make him float at any depth you like.

The science bit: how density works

When you squeeze the bottle, water is pushed into the straw. This compresses the air in the straw, making the diver heavier. His density increases so he sinks.

When you let go, the pressure of the air trapped in the straw pushes the water back out. This means the diver is now less dense than water, so he floats back up.

So… what makes a metal boat less dense than the water?

Well, for more fun you can test different objects (like solid objects made of glass, metal, wood, plastic, modelling clay, aluminium foil) to see which float of sink. For example if you flatten the aluminium foil or the modelling clay into a bowl shape, they will float.

Small, heavy things like coins and stones sink whereas large, light things like corks, float. When you make a big, hollow boat shape out of something small and heavy like modelling clay, most of the boat is actually filled with air. Together, the boat and the air inside are less dense than the water so the bloat floats.

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Fun and quick guide: how to make your own home-made boomerangs

boomerang

Home-made boomerangs make for a great bit of indoor (and outdoor) fun!

Did you know that boomerangs were invented 25,000 to 50,000 years ago? Or that, contrary to popular belief, they didn’t originate in Australia? In fact, the oldest boomerang was discovered  in Poland! (Source: CultureQuest)

It is, however, the Aborigines that invented the returning boomerang after realising that a curved stick would have the accuracy and velocity needed for hunting.

Today, though, boomerangs are mostly used for sport and fun and can have a number of different “wings”. A boomerang was used to make the Guinness World Record for the Longest Throw of Any Object by a Human. The record stands at a whopping 1,401.5 feet (427.2 metres)!

Now, while we can’t help you beat that record, we’ve got a great guide to making  home-made boomerangs with your little ones. It’s a great, non-messy bit of indoors fun and can also help teach your children some basics physics examples.

What you’ll need:

  • Card
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Protractor

How to make your home-made boomerangs:

With the ruler, measure out and cut three pieces of card 3.5 cm wide and 15 cm long. If you haven’t got any card don’t worry – old, thin, cardboard boxes will do (especially cereal boxes), if you haven’t already turned your recycling into something else.

Next cut a 2 cm deep slit in the base of each piece. Use this to slot the first two pieces together and then the third.

Using the protractor, make sure the angle between each of the blades is exactly 120 degrees. Check that the wings are evenly spread. Then staple them all in the middle – this will ensure they hold firmly.

This is how they should look :

home-made-boomerangs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To get your home-made boomerang airborne, you need to hold one of the blades between your finger and thumb, with the boomerang facing away from you. Set if off spinning by throwing it forward and up with a flick of the wrist. You should see it spinning around but following a curving path that will bring the boomerang back to you.

The science bit:

As the boomerang spins through the air, the wing at the top of the spin is moving at a faster rate than the wing at the bottom. This is because it is moving in the direction you threw it. As a result the top portion will generate more lift. It’s the difference in these forces that gives the boomerang its curving path and should eventually bring it back to where it began. Of course, this doesn’t always happen.

This makes for a great bit of indoors fun but you can take it outdoors. You can use different material, different colours to see how this affects the boomerang’s flight direction.

Now… the record for the longest boomerang throw and return is 238 metres! See how you get on and do let us know, we’d love to see your boomerangs!

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Homemade Rainbows – Science Fun for Children!

Indoors fun experiment

How about using the opportunity of an indoors rainy day to teach your children some science and some physics?

You can create your own home-made rainbow, while explaining some basic light principles! Easy-peasy and entertaining while it rains! So let’s play Sheldon from Big Bang Theory for a little bit! 😉

This activity is appropriate for older children, from 5 years upwards, but will entertain toddlers and babies and adults alike! Granted, a very young toddler might try to shove the torch in your eyes or in your mouth but the fun is all that matters!

Make your own indoor rainbow with a compact disc

You will need:

  • A compact disc (preferably one that you don’t listen to any longer!)
  • A torch
  • Kitchen foil
objects for homemade rainbow
Kitchen foil, flashlight and CD

Make a hole of about 0.5 cm in diameter in the middle of the foil. Wrap the foil over the front of the torch. Make sure the hole is over the middle of the torch

Place the compact disc on a table with the writing facing downwards.

Turn on the torch and hold it so that light reflects off the compact disc and into your eyes. You will need to have the compact disc between you and the torch and point the torch diagonally downwards.

Indoors spectrum on CD
Indoors spectrum on CD

White light: now for the science bit

Children learn all the time, so when they’re old enough to understand some basic notions of physics, you can provide them with some explanation while conducting the indoors experiment:

Most light sources, including the Sun and torches, give out white light. It is given this name because it seems to have no colour. However white light has more colour than any other type of light. White light is a mixture of many colours, from red to blue. In some situations, all the colours separate out to produce a continuous band of colour called the white light spectrum. For example, a rainbow forms when raindrops separate sunlight into a spectrum.

Indoors science activity fun
Indoors science activity fun

So how does this home-made rainbow work?

Well, the surface of a compact disc is covered with very small dents called “pits”. These cause each colour of light to reflect at a slightly different angle, producing the spectrum.

And now for some history

The first person to understand white light, was the English scientist Isaac Newton. In 1666 he performed a famous experiment in his room in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire.

Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton (photo source Wikipedia)

He used a glass prism (as many people had done before him), to produce a spectrum of colours. Before Newton, people believed that the colours were added to white sunlight. Newton was the first to realise that all the colours are present in the sunlight and the prism simply separates them all out!

We will be trying more fun science games and experiments at home. Do let us know how your own rainbow making experiments go and if your children enjoyed them.