Fun and easy science experiments to try with your kids
By: Jacqueline Bair, The Homemaking Scientist

When you’rejacquelinebair looking for an activity to do with the kids, why not do a science experiment? Not only are they fun, but they can be educational as well! But, what experiment can you do with your kids without blowing up the house? And how can you explain the science behind the experiment? Well don’t worry, I can help with that part!

Read more: The Hudson Valley’s best places to teach your little ones about the sciences

Here are a couple of experiment ideas to get you started. For more ideas, visit the ongoing list I’ve compiled at my blog:

 

Experiment #1: Microwaving a bar of soap

barsoapexperimentThis chemistry experiment is super quick, and may even encourage your child to take a bath! It will also start up a conversation about microwaves, energy, and gases, and it looks awesome!

Time Required

  • Less than 5 minutes.

Materials

  • A bar of soap (Ivory works well, as does Lever 2000)
  • A microwave
  • A plate

Procedure

Take a bar of soap, and cut it into smaller pieces (size does not matter). Put the pieces on a plate, and microwave for about 30 seconds (of course this is also dependant on your microwave). Watch the soap as it gets huge and looks soft and fluffy (I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t get soft and fluffy, but oh well). When you take the soap out of the microwave, let it cool for a minute or two before touching. Also, this will cause your kitchen to smell like soap. I just left the microwave door open to air it out, and it was fine.

What’s happening here is that the microwave is emitting a type of energy that gives the molecules inside of the soap more energy, which causes them so move around more, some of them go from the solid or liquid to the gas state, and expand the soap. And Voila! We have fluffy looking soap.

Here’s a great video I found that shows the experiment (in case you don’t have access to the materials at the moment).

Here’s another site with some more background information on this experiment:

Read more: Take a day trip to the Maritime Aquarium!

Experiment #2: Edible core sampling

When scientists are studying the earth to learn more about its history, one of the things that they do is get a core sample. Taking a real core sample involves large drills and sometimes many weeks of time. For this experiment, we can get a core sample within a couple of hours, and all without even leaving the house!

Time Required

  • 1-1.5 hours

Materials

  • light colored cake mix
  • frosting
  • food dyes
  • toothpicks
  • clear plastic straws
  • drawing paper and crayons/markers/colored pencils

Procedure

ridgeMake the cake mix like you normally would, but divide it up into multiple bowls (as many bowls as you want colors). I suggest at least 3 different bowls. Put a drop or two of food dye into the bowls to make the different colors. Then carefully layer the different colored cake mix into the cake pan. I recommend making each part a little different (put more red cake mix in one area, put more blue in another, etc.). The different layers will represent the strata of the Earth – the different layers of rock that are under us. Bake the cake as you normally would and let cool. Frost the cake so that the top layer can’t be seen. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can make the frosting different colors and layer that as well! The frosting layer represents the soil that we can see (and some that we can’t). Ask the kids what they think the inside of the cake will look like. Have them draw what they think they will find. Then comes the fun! Have them take a straw and push it straight down into the cake, having them twist a little bit so that it goes smoothly through. When they bring the straw back up, they should be able to see the different layers of cake through the straw! Have them draw what they actually found next to what they thought they would find. Encourage them to take multiple samples so that they get different results. Then, eat the cake!

Here’s a link to easy to read background for the science of core sampling:


What science experiments do you do at home with your kids? What do you look for in a home-based science activity? Comment below!

Jacqueline Bair is a local mom who has a computer-oriented husband and two adorable little girls with special needs. She likes to blog when she has a spare moment, which doesn’t always come easy. You can find her at her blog, The Homemaking Scientist, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

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