13 Wacky Science and Space-Themed Experiments You Can Try at Home
Science experiments are a wonderful way to pass the time and learn or teach others while always, of course, making sure we keep safe and use the correct chemical compounds and equipment.
Millions of people today have been asked to work from home and stay indoors. If you're a science geek at heart, or if you're looking for a neat way to entertain your kids, here are a few experiments you can try from the comfort of your home.
1. The black snake experiment
The black fire snake is an impressive experiment that is also known as the sugar snake. In order to do the experiment, you will need sugar, baking soda, sand, lighter fluid, and a lighter.
Put some baking soda on top of a bowl of sand that has been doused in lighting fluid. Once lit, the baking soda makes carbon dioxide gas. The pressure from this gas pushes the carbonate from the burning sugar out, producing the mesmerizing snake-like effect.
If you do try this experiment at home, make sure not to touch the "snake" until it has completely cooled down, also keep away while the reaction is occurring.
2. Make your own 3D hologram
Want to make your own "hologram" — it's really a clever take on the "Pepper's ghost" illusion — at home? You can do just that. All you need is a plexiglass CD case, a smartphone, and scissors.
First, you will need to cut pieces out of the CD case and stick them together in order to make a projector, as in the GIF above. As the Home Science video points out, you can use a piece of paper to trace out the correct dimensions on the plexiglass.
Place the projector in the middle of your screen and then download a specially made hologram video that will project the image off all four angles, creating the hologram effect.
3. Create ice in an instant
For this flash freezing trick, all you need to do is place a bottle of water in the freezer for approximately two hours.
When you cool purified water is to just below freezing point, a little nudge or contact with ice all it takes to freeze it instantly.
For this experiment, freeze water to just below freezing point by using keeping it in the freezer for approximately two hours — to see if it's at the correct temperature freeze two bottles and keep one as a tester that you can knock to see if it freezes.
Pour the water onto a cube of ice and marvel as the ice column forms. Thanks to a process called nucleation, pouring the water onto the ice cube means it will quickly freeze and form the column of ice that you can see in this vid by The King of Random.
4. The classic volcano experiment
This is a favorite as far as science experiments go. While we won't explain to you what a volcano science experiment entails, here is a recipe for one by Teach Beside Me:
6 cups of Flour
2 cups of Salt
2 cups of Water
2 Tbsp of Cooking Oil
Coloring (you can use food coloring or liquid watercolor)
Fill the bottle about 3/4 of the way full with a mix of red coloring, water, and some dish soap. Add 2 Tbsp of baking soda into the bottle, then pour in the vinegar and watch your volcano erupt.
5. Make a crystal out of salt at home
Did you know you can grow cool crystals using any salt? Home Science explains how you can make your own beautiful crystals using Copper(II) Sulfate Pentahydrate CuSO4.5H2O.
The process is quite simple and relatively safe — just make sure not to touch the chemicals with your bare hands. Add about 5 teaspoons of Copper(II) Sulfate Pentahydrate into a beaker of about 2 dL hot water. Leave it for two days and the crystals will form themselves at the bottom of the beaker.
Filter impurities out of the liquid and put one of the formed crystals back into the liquid to see it grow into an even bigger size.
6. Make magic mud
"Magic mud" is made from the starch found in potatoes. It is a non-Newtonian fluid, which means it can behave as both a solid and a liquid. It remains hard when handled but turns into a liquid when left to its own devices.
Check out this video to see how to extract your own "magic mud" from potatoes, and even make it glow under a black light using tonic water.
7. Universe slime
Aside from getting us to the moon and lighting up the imagination of kids the world over, NASA has also kindly put together some space experiments for kids to try at home.
NASA's "Universe Slime" experiment is supposed to represent how the universe has been stretching out and expanding since the universe began about 13.8 billion years ago.
All you need is clear school glue, borax, water, red and blue food coloring, and glitter. Head over to NASA's page for the instructions on how to make your own slime to represent the aftereffects of the Big Bang.
8. Paper circuit constellations
Another great way to help the kids learn about space is this paper constellation circuit experiment, put together by NASA's Universe of Learning project.
Paper circuits teach the basics of electricity by allowing learners to build simple low-voltage electronic circuits using only paper, LED lights, a conductive tape such as copper, and a small battery. NASA's spin on the concept allows kids to light up a representation of the night sky at the same time as building their circuit.
The project does rely on cut-out templates, which can be found here at NASA's CHANDRA X-ray Observatory website.
9. Dancing Oobleck
Oobleck is another non-Newtonian fluid, meaning it is perfect for visually surprising experiments. One well-known example is the Oobleck dance.
Check out this video by Babble Dabble Do to see how heavy bass and Oobleck fluid make for a groovy combination that can be easily replicated at home.
KIX, a Malaysian bank, even went as far as filling a 2,100-gallon pool with Oobleck fluid for a commercial.
Other experiments, such as shooting a golf ball through a balloon full of Oobleck are also very cool, though a little tricky to try at home.
Oobleck is made out of 1 part water and 1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch as well as a small amount of optional food coloring.
10. The elephant's toothpaste demonstration
This well-known demonstration sees a steaming foamy substance, created by the rapid decomposition of hydrogen peroxide, come shooting out of a beaker.
It looks sort of like a giant-sized cartoon toothpaste container having its contents rapidly squeezed out - hence the name. Make your own elephant's toothpaste with these instructions.
11. Storm in a jar
Another experiment that's useful for educating learners about science through its chemical reactions as well as the way they can be used to represent other real-life scientific phenomena.
With its visually impressive swirly colorful clouds, the "Storm in a Jar" experiment can be used to help you teach your kids how clouds slowly fill with moisture from the air, and eventually let out rain when they become over-saturated.
All you'll need is a jar, shaving cream, glow in the dark or neon paint, water, pipettes, bowls, and a spoon. Check out these instructions from Growing a Jeweled Rose.
12. Form a cloud in a bottle
You've already shown a visual representation of how rain works (see the point above), so how about forming a cloud inside a bottle to give a real-life demonstration of how the process happens right from the beginning?
You'll need a transparent glass jar or bottle, warm tap water, a metal tray, ice, a spoon, and a match.
This useful science experiment from NASA teaches you how to condense water vapor inside a bottle to show how clouds are formed. Check out the instructions over at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab website.
13. Melt metal in your hands
As this video points out, Gallium is a metal that melts in your hands. The melting point for gallium is relatively low at 85.6°F (29.8°C). Because of its melting point, it will stay solid on a table or room-temperature surface but will melt in the palm of your hand — making it perfect for surprising experiments.
Warm Gallium up just a little and it looks like mercury, allowing you to shoot the liquid form of the metal out of a syringe.
Science can be a distraction, it can be a force for good, and it can also be a roaring fun time. All you need are a few choice materials, the right equipment, the right amount of adult supervision and you're all set to go.