Simple Science Experiments At Home
Children love to learn new and exciting things and science is a really great place to start. Have no fear, you can forget about those dusty old text books, white lab coats and Bunsen burners. It’s actually really simple to conduct fun, easy science experiments at home that will get your little ones talking, doing and thinking!
Here are some fascinating hands-on experiments that are a great way for children to enjoy the world of science. Many can be done using basic ingredients you already have at home and are perfectly safe for your children to participate in.
Sit back and watch your mini scientists create!
Hot and cold air balloons
Hot air expands and rises because it is less dense than the air around it. A good example to illustrate this is to talk about hot air balloons. To demonstrate the opposite happening, cold air being denser, blow up a normal party balloon to about half full. Put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes. It should shrivel up, and look as though all of the air has gone. Explain that the air is actually still in there but ‘shrunk’ by the cold. Now watch as it warms up and expands again.
Use baking soda and vinegar to create a truly amazing chemical reaction! The baking soda acts as a base whilst the vinegar is an acid that together creates a lot of fizzing! Simply place some baking soda (not baking powder) into a container, add some of the vinegar and watch what happens. To make it extra special why not add some glitter too? Make sure you have a cloth at the ready or even better, conduct the experiment in the garden to avoid any indoor mess!
Liquids can have very different densities. This allows some liquids to float on others and for some objects to float on some liquids. This can be shown visually by pouring treacle, golden syrup and water with some food colouring added into a tall glass. Then add some vegetable oil. Each liquid will settle into clearly visible layers allowing you to talk about their different densities. To show that solids can be less dense than liquids, drop in a paperclip (which will float on the treacle layer) or a Lego brick (which will float on the water).
Predicting the weather
Who knew that a humble pine cone could predict the weather?? Pine cones want to spread their seeds as far as possible so they only release them when it is dry so the wind can carry them. This results in them ‘closing’ when it is wet (to protect the seeds) and ‘opening’ when it is dry (to allow the seeds to disperse). Gather a few pinecones while you are out and line them up on a window sill and watch them slowly open and close as the weather is about to change.
Dye your own flowers
A great way for children to explore the transfer of water through plants, this experiment demonstrates how plants carry water up their stems, via the xylem, to reach the leaves and petals to hydrate them. Gather a few stems of white flowers such as carnations, gerberas or chrysanthemums and place each into its own jar filled with water to which you have added different shades of liquid or gel food colouring. Ask your children what they think might happen and within an hour or so they will see the petals change colour. We found green and blue dyes work the best.