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.
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.
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
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
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
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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