One of the best ways to encourage your child’s curiosity and love for learning is to do fun and simple science experiments at home.
These experiments can help make the textbook theories come alive, and even motivate them to learn more about a topic that’s suddenly way cooler than they thought! Plus, the materials are easy to find—you probably have them all in a drawer somewhere. So grab them and go on a science adventure today!
What do you do when your child asks, “Why is the grass green?” Use a rainbow spinner to explain how color is really the way our eyes see the light spectrum. When light hits objects, some of its wavelengths are absorbed while others are reflected. All wavelengths combined makes white.
You need a pencil, drinking glass, white card, cardboard, scissors, ruler, crayons, glue and string. A hole punch helps but isn’t crucial.
First, use the drinking glass to trace two circles on the white card, and one circle on the cardboard. Cut out all three circles.
Then, take your two white card circles. With your pencil and ruler draw lines across the two white card circles to form equal ‘pizza pie slices.’ Color each ‘pie slice’ a different color. Stick your colorful circles on each side of the cardboard circles, so you can see the pretty design from both sides.
Now, pierce a small hole through the center of the card. The hole should be big enough for you to insert your string. You can use your hole punch, the end of a compass, or the tip of a sharp pencil.
Insert the string and pull until the circle is right in the middle. Now loop the ends of the string around your pointer, and then swing your arms in a circular motion until the string gets all twisted. When you’re ready, pull your hands like you’re playing an accordion. Now all those colors combine to create…white!
Homemade lava lamp
Somewhere along the way your child will come across the term density, and the discussion—clouded with terms like intermolecular polarity—will make everyone feel a little, uh, dense.
But this concept becomes cool with a makeshift lava lamp! All you need is a clear one-liter soda bottle, ¾ cup of water, vegetable oil, Alka Seltzer tablets (or any fizzy tablet) and food coloring.
First, pour the water into the bottle. Add the vegetable oil until the bottle’s almost full. The oil and water will separate (but this will take a few minutes). Then, squeeze about 10 drops of food coloring into the bottle, which will mix with the water.
Now here’s where the magic begins: drop the alka seltzer tablet and cool blobs begin to form! (You get to see the effect better if you shine a flashlight at the base of the bottle).
Basically, the oil and water repel each other because of intermolecular polarity: water molecules stick to each other, so do oil molecules. The tablet, on the other hand, dissolved in the water, but the reaction released a gas. So up goes the gas (in a bubble) but it takes a little water with it. Pop goes the bubble (bye, bye gas) and the water sinks back. That’s density at work.
Kids often zone out when they hear about chemical compounds, molecular changes, acids—hey, moms zone out, too! But here’s the ‘write’ way to get kids hooked into the concept: invisible ink!
All you need are a toothpick (or a small brush), lemon juice, paper and a heat source like a lightbulb.
Dip the toothpick or the brush into the lemon juice. Then write a top-secret message. Let the paper dry. The message becomes invisible!
Then, move the paper over the lightbulb. Once the paper warms up, the words start to appear! That’s because the acid in the lemon juice interacted with the cellulose in the paper and changed it into sugars. The heat caramelizes the sugars and turns them brown.
You can also experiment with other acids like vinegar and milk!