As a kid, there was nothing more thrilling than watching a great experiment. The right experiment could range from something that is simply cool and colorful to a project that seemed to unlock the mysteries of the universe. Even more so, the right experiment with a child can plant the seeds of scientific curiosity, sending them down a STEM path.
As you probably already know, you do not need a complex laboratory filled with expensive equipment to actually do fun and informative experiments with your kids.
In fact, with just some simple, everyday household items you can create both fun, and mesmerizing experiments for people of all ages. Today we are going to look at some of the best experiments you can do around the house with your little ones.
1. Invisible ink
Instead of texting, why not have your kids write themselves messages with invisible ink? The process of creating invisible ink is much easier than you might think. Grab a few lemons and squeeze them into a container. Write with the lemon juice like ink, using a cotton swab to write a series of invisible messages on a sheet of paper. Let the lemon juice dry, and the message become invisible.
To reveal the secret message, simply and carefully hold the message up to a heat source, like a hair-dryer or even a light bulb.
2. Build a lava lamp
Though they might not have the appeal they once did, lava lamps are a cool experiment using density to build a funky lamp. All you need is a clean plastic bottle with smooth sides, water, vegetable oil, fizzing tablets such as antacid tablets, and food coloring. Follow the instructions in the video above to get a lava-lamp like experience. All you need to do is add a light for the full effect. Check it out above.
3. Homemade bottle rocket
This one is great for your future rocket scientist. To tackle this experiment you are going to need some basic supplies; things you probably already have lying around the house. All you need is an empty bottle of water, 4 popsicle sticks or pencils per bottle, electrical tape, a paper towel, vinegar, baking soda, and a cork stopper.
The vinegar and baking soda will act as safe rocket fuel for your kids. Following the five easy steps found at Spaceships and Laser Beams, you will have your rocket launching off in no time.
4. Your own play dough
With kids, Play Dough tends not to have a long shelf life and can be very expensive. Why not create your own? All you need is flour, salt, cream of tartar, 3 tbsp of oil and 3 cups of water. Once properly cooked and mixed, the materials will turn into a fun dough for sculpting. You can even add some Kool-Aid for color and scent. Check it out here.
5. Glowing magic milk
Learn Play Imagine has a great experiment that is out of this world. Perfect for all ages, you’ll need milk, fluorescent paint or watercolors, squeeze bottles, dish soap, blacklight, and cotton swabs, toothpicks or craft sticks for mixing colors. The experiment perfectly mixes art and science.
6. Aqua sand
This project explores the properties of waterproofing by spraying craft sand with a common household protector like Scotch Guard. Using colored dye, you can create a colorful underwater experience, as the waterproof sand reacts with the liquid in a unique way. The full recipe and experience can be found on Growing a Jeweled Rose.
7. The giant bubble experiment
It is common knowledge that kids go crazy for bubbles. Perfect for the summer, all you need is glycerin and some dishwashing soap, as well as other common household items. Mix together: 6 cups water, ½ cup of dishwashing detergent, ½ cup corn starch, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 tablespoon glycerin.
To create the bubbles, use a giant bubble wand or make your own out of pipe cleaners. Play with different recipes, for example, adding more glycerin or corn starch, to see which one is the most effective at creating the biggest bubbles. See the full bubble project here.
8. The cloud jars
Instructions are available at Learn With Play at Home for this exciting cloud jar science experiment project, which teaches young scientists how clouds hold water and what happens when the clouds become too heavy. All you need for this project is colored water, a clear jar with water, shaving foam and an eyedropper. You will end up creating a colorful storm in a jar.
9. The classic Mentos & diet cola
It is also very well documented that kids love seeing things explode. Why not try one of the classics? Before even starting the experiment, ask your children what they think will happen when the Mentos react with the diet coke. A process that can be continued in other experiments, first have your children hypothesize and write out their expectations. Then, tell them that they are going to test their hypothesis.
Once the Mentos are dropped into the cola, the two substances create a violent reaction, spewing the liquid far into the air. It is good to try this experiment outside as things can get very messy. Check it out here.
What was your favorite experiment as a child?