9 Silly (But Educational) Science Experiments for Kids

posted on April 10, 2014 at 9:26 am

Educational activities don’t have to be dull. In fact, youngsters tend to retain information better when they are having fun while learning. The science experiments in this list incorporate just the right amount of silliness that your kids may not even realize they’ve gained knowledge in the process! Let your child’s curiosity guide you while completing these silly crafts for kids, and don’t be afraid to get messy – that’s what science is all about, after all!

YeahScience
personal.psu.edu

1. Dancing Raisins

DancingRaisins
kidsactivitiesblog.com

What You’ll Need

  • Bowl of water
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • 10 raisins

How to Do It

Add 4 tbsp. of vinegar, 3 tbsp. of baking soda, and 10 raisins to the bowl of water. Give it a moment then watch the raisins begin to show and dance! Adding extra baking soda will make them even more animated.

What It Teaches

Vinegar and baking soda form carbon dioxide bubbles, which is also what carbonates soda. Bubbles assemble under the raisins until the fizz is enough to raise the raisins to the surface, and when the bubbles pop, it causes the raisins to fall.

 

2. Walking on Eggs

WalkOnEggs
theguardian.com

What You’ll Need

  • A few dozen large-sized eggs still in egg cartons (amount depends on how daring you want to get)
  • Large plastic trash bag
  • Bucket of soap and water
  • Barefoot kids

How to Do It

Spread the plastic trash bag out on the floor and arrange egg cartons into two rows. Inspect all eggs to ensure there are absolutely no cracks – make necessary replacements if there are. Also make sure all eggs are oriented in the same direction in the cartons. Have the kids remove their shoes and socks, and assist one child in stepping up onto the first carton of eggs. The key: make sure the foot is as flat as possible for weight to be distributed evenly across the egg tops, and if the ball of your child’s foot is large, it may be best to position the foot between two rows of eggs rather than on top of one egg. When the foot is in its proper place, shift all weight onto the egg-leg while positioning the other foot on top of the next carton of eggs. The creaking sounds coming from the carton are normal, so don’t worry about that. Now help your child keep walking! As long as the foot is super flat and you provide enough support, all should go well!

What It Teaches

The secret to this silly craft for kids lies in the shape of the egg, which is similar to a three-dimensional arch. Although we think of eggs as fragile, the shape gives it incredible strength. Strongest at the top and bottom (the highest point of the arch), the curved form distributes pressure evenly throughout the shell. Because of this, an even force, like holding the egg and squeezing at the top and bottom, will not allow the egg to break.

 

3. Elephant Toothpaste

ElephantToothpaste
fyeahchemistry.tumblr.com

What You’ll Need

  • Soda bottle
  • Pan
  • Container for mixing
  • 2 tbsp. warm water
  • 1 tsp. yeast
  • ½ cup 6% hydrogen peroxide
  • Food coloring
  • Dish soap

How to Do It

Place a soda bottle in the middle of a pan to catch the toothpaste. Combine the warm water and yeast in a separate container and swirl together for one minute. Mix hydrogen peroxide, 4-5 drops of food coloring, and a squirt of dish soap in the soda bottle. Now pour the yeast mixture into the bottle and watch the foam that forms!

What It Teaches

Hydrogen peroxide breaks down naturally into water and oxygen. To slow down this process, the solution is stored in an opaque container. Catalase, which is a common enzyme found in nearly all living things (including yeast), speeds up the reaction. The dish soap is used to capture the oxygen and causes bigger bubbles to form, and the food coloring just makes it look extra cool! The foam and bottle will feel warm because the reaction is exothermic, meaning it releases energy as heat.

 

4. Floating Rice Bottle

 silly crafts for kids
housingaforest.com


What You’ll Need

  • Non-breakable bottle (20 oz. soda bottle would work)
  • Pencil
  • Rice (almost a pound for a 20 oz. bottle)
  • Funnel

How to Do It

Pour the rice into the bottle using the funnel, leaving a few inches of space at the top. Insert the pencil into the bottle’s hole, and stab away! The rice will settle after several stabs, and you’ll begin to feel the pencil getting stuck in the rice as you attempt to pull it out. Hint: quick stabs work well. If you get the pencil stuck just right, you can lift the pencil as well as the entire bottle of rice. There you have it – a floating rice bottle!

What It Teaches

This silly craft for kids teaches friction, which is the resistance felt when one object is moved against another. For example, when it’s cold out and there’s ice on the ground, you may slip due to the low amount of friction between your feet and the ice. In this case, when you stab the rice with the pencil and it “sticks,” the rice is packed together and contained by the bottle. The friction between the rice and pencil is strong enough to hold the pencil in place as you lift!

 

5. Rainbow Bubble Snake

silly crafts for kids
housingaforest.com

What You’ll Need

  • Empty 16 oz. plastic bottle
  • Bowl of bubble solution (dish soap works fine)
  • Scissors
  • Piece of fabric (like a washcloth or sock)
  • Liquid food coloring

How to Do It

Start by mixing dish soap with a bit of water. Then cut the bottom of the plastic bottle off. Cover the hole with a washcloth or a sock, using a rubber band to keep the fabric in place. Dip the fabric-end of the bottle into the homemade bubble solution. Now have your child blow into the mouth of the bottle, and your bubble snake will appear! To make a rainbow snake, simply add a few drops of food coloring to the fabric, dip the fabric into the bubble solution, and blow!

What It Teaches

The surface tension of water is what forms bubbles. The hydrogen atoms in a water molecule are attracted to the oxygen atoms in another water molecule, and they cling together. When you blow air through the bottle, hundreds of tiny bubbles are continuously being made as the air goes through the fabric. The bubbles attach together when they pass through the fabric, hence the bubble snake!

Safety Note

Make sure to remind your kids not to inhale the bubbles, but to only blow out.

 

6. Magic Sand

MagicSand

mikerosenstein.tumblr.com

What You’ll Need

  • Sand
  • Silicone spray (can get from Home Depot or Lowe’s)
  • 2 clear plastic or glass containers with wide mouths

How to Do It

Lay sand out on a piece of cardboard or newspaper and spread thin. Spray the sand with several coats of silicone spray. Mix the sand around between coats to ensure it is entirely coated. Let this dry overnight or for at least 12 hours. Next, fill the clear cups about halfway with water. Add a generous amount of the silicone-covered sand to one of the containers. The sand will appear dry even when under water, like magic! To prove it really is dry, pour the water from one container to another.

What It Teaches

The silicone coating on the sand makes it repel the water molecules. Scientifically, this is called hydrophobic, meaning “fear of water.” Sand is typically hydrophilic because it “loves water” and absorbs it.

 

7. Cartesian Diver

CartesianDiver

momfilter.com

What You’ll Need

  • Plastic water or soda bottle
  • Plastic bendable straw
  • Modeling clay
  • Warm or room temperature tap water
  • Funnel

How to Do It

Cut the straw about 1.5 inches on either side of the part that bends. Fold the straw at the bend to make a U shape, making the ends of the straw line up equally.  Now form your “diver” out of clay by adding a glob to the straw ends, making sure the holes of the straw are sealed. You’ll need to add just enough clay to make the straw buoyant. Important: test the buoyancy by placing the diver in a large bowl of water. The diver should float near the top with the majority submerged. Once you’ve got the buoyancy down, use a funnel to fill the plastic bottle up with water. The temperature should be the same as your test water – for best results, just use the test water. Insert your diver, cap the bottle, and squeeze! As pressure is applied, the diver will sink; when pressure is released, the diver will rise back to the top. If you have any trouble, experiment by using warmer water, make sure the clay is completely plugging the straw ends, and check that the straw has no holes in it.

What It Teaches

This experiment was named by scientist René Descartes, and it shows the rules of buoyancy – if the weight of water an object displaces is greater than the weight of the object itself, then the object is buoyant. The air trapped in the straw responds to the pressure change from squeezing the bottle, reducing the straw’s size. When this occurs, the straw displaces less water, reducing its buoyancy and causing it to sink. The opposite occurs when pressure is released!

 

8. Balloon Rocket

BalloonRocket
kidsactivitiesblog.com

What You’ll Need

  • Drinking straw cut into one-inch pieces
  • Fishing line
  • Two trees (or something to anchor fishing line 100 feet apart)
  • Plastic bottle
  • Two long balloons (not the kind you need a pump for)
  • Tape

How to Do It

String the fishing line between two objects outdoors about 80 to 100 feet apart. Before attaching the second end, thread the line through two straw pieces (they will slide on the line). Cut off each end of the water bottle so a 3-4 inch ring remains. Tape the ring onto one of the straw pieces. Now blow up one balloon and hold it in the ring, not letting the air escape as you put a second balloon in place. If done correctly, the second can be positioned so it stops the air from escaping the first. Upon releasing the second balloon, it will propel the rocket forward! As it gets smaller, the first balloon will take over. If it’s easier for your child, just use one balloon – you’ll still have a launching rocket!

What It Teaches

The Newton principle that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” is how rocket science is explained!

Safety Note

Make sure no one is in the way of the balloon as it launches to avoid any injuries.

 

9. Ivory Soap Soufflé

IvorySoapSouffle
themakeyourownzone.com

What You’ll Need

  • Ivory soap bar
  • Variety of other soap bars
  • Deep bowl of water
  • Paper towel
  • Microwave

How to Do It

Drop all bars of soap into a bowl full of water. Notice that all bars aside from the Ivory soap bar sink. Remove the Ivory soap from the water, break it in half, and look for any pockets of air hiding in the middle of the bar, which would make the soap float. Surprise! You’ll find there are no air pockets. Put the Ivory soap in the middle of a paper towel and place in the center of the microwave. Cook on high for 2 minutes, and observe as it enlarges and eventually erupts into what looks like puffy clouds. Once the soap cools, let those little hands explore! Though the soap looks puffy, it is rigid.

What It Teaches

Ivory soap is one of the rare soap brands that can float in water. It has air pumped into it during manufacturing, making the soap less dense than water. Water is enclosed in the air bubbles in the soap as well as the mold of the soap itself. When the water is heated in the microwave, the expanding effect occurs. Charles’ Law is actually at play here – as the temperature of a gas increases, so does its volume. The molecules of air in the soap move quickly and far away from each other when the soap is heated; thus, the soap puffs up to a very large size.

Safety Note

Supervise your child at all times when using the microwave.


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