Introduce your children to the exciting world of science with a few simple homemade science experiments. With just the ingredients that you have in your kitchen and household closets, you'll be able to explore basic chemical reactions in a way that engages young and old minds alike. Consider these ideas as ways to get started exploring the world around you in your own kitchen.
You can teach your children about the varying densities of common liquids like oil and water by combining them and other common liquids into a glass container to show how liquids of differing densities don't mix. You can also combine common liquids like dish soap, baking soda and vinegar to create a volcano effect. Or, you can combine oil and water in a clear dish to demonstrate the effects of oil spills on the environment. Explain that their disastrous effects and difficulty in cleaning up are due to the chemical nature of the two liquids, which cannot dissolve into each other because of their varying densities.
You can use petroleum jelly to perform a few basic science experiments that will amaze your children. Start with a black light and piece of paper. Have children write a message in petroleum jelly on the paper and place it under a dark light to reveal the message. Explain that the black light makes the message glow because it picks up on the phosphors present in the petroleum jelly and bounces the light back as a visible color. Or, have them use a balloon, needle and petroleum jelly and then dip the needle in jelly and blow up the balloon to 3/4 capacity. Have them poke the balloon near the neck and not on the round full part to observe how poking it at a place where polymer chains are not as close together results in the balloon not popping when being poked.
Rubber Bands and Glue
Explore how heat affects rubber bands by exposing a few of them to a hair dryer after stretching them out. Have children wrap one end of the rubber band over a door knob and the other end over a hammer and then blow on the rubber band with a hair dryer. Tell them to observe how the hammer moves up toward the door knob because the heat causes the rubber to contract. Or, have them fling rubber bands different distances using their fingers. Use the experiment to discuss the difference between potential and kinetic energy and how greater potential energy translates into greater kinetic energy. Or use glue and laundry borax to explore the properties of plastic by creating your own. Do a demonstration dissolving the borax into equal parts school glue and water to create glue, which can be formed into various sold shapes, similar to silly putty.
Use aluminum foil and baking soda to teach your children how to reverse the affects of tarnished silver. Explain that silver tarnishes over time, becoming dull as it undergoes a chemical reaction with sulfur particles in the air. A combination of the chemicals in foil and baking soda restores the silver to its original state. Or, have them line three plastic cups filled with water and seal them tightly with styrofoam, aluminum foil and bubble wrap to see which material is the best for insulation. Have them measure the water in each cup after five hours, and explain that the one with the most water is the best insulated.
- University of Wisconsin-Madison; Science is Fun: Layered Liquids
- University of Wisconsin-Madison; Science is Fun: Making Things Glow in the Dark
- List Verse; Top 10 Coolest Home Science Experiments; December 2007
- Video Jug' How to Pierce a Balloon without it Popping
- University of Wisconsin-Madison; Science is Fun: Rubber Bands and Heat
- Discovery Education; Science Project: Keep it Cool
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