Fun and Games: Science Activities for Kids

This was a blog I originally did for the lovely Darlene Beck-Jacobson, but I wanted to try something different this week so I am re-posting here. Check out Darlene’s blog here.


When you grow up with a father who is an engineer and a mother who has degrees in both Biology and Geology, science is kind of hard to avoid. Then again, science is pretty hard to avoid in general because it’s happening all around us all the time.

The obnoxiously hot weather? Science.

Trees turning colors as the seasons change? Science.

The reason your dog turns in a circle before lying down? Science.

Making cookies or baking a cake? Science.

Your younger sibling always being with you at the most inconvenient times? Could be science.

There’s a plethora of fun activities and experiments you can do at home with common household items, and like in Math Curse, ideally these can help you stop thinking of science as scary and intimidating and turn it into something fun.

science

After a (largely thorough) scouring of the internet (read: Pinterest), I’ve compiled a list of my own personal favorites along with some of the newer ones I found in my search.

Disclaimer: I’ve tried to ensure clarity of directions in each of these activities, please use common sense when performing these experiments to ensure your own safety and the safety of those around you.

– Erupting Volcano (from how-things-work-science-porjects.com):

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup vinegar (up to a cup if you have a large bottle)
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • cherry jell-o granules

Procedure:

  1. Place the vinegar in the bottle.
  2. Stir the baking soda and enough cherry jell-o mix to make a pinkish powder.
  3. Either wrap the soda mixture in tissue paper or use a funnel to add it directly into the bottle. Tissue helps get all the soda in the vinegar at once, but if the funnel hole is large enough, that method works just fine. Either way, the goal is to get the baking soda into the vinegar as fast as you can.
  4. Stand back and watch what happens – Erupting Volcano!

(Note: There’s oodles more recipes on the site (and the rest of the internet) that can be tried besides the one I have here. Check them all out and then pick your own preferred method.)

– Salt Volcanoes (from whatdowedoallday.com):

  1. Pour several inches of water into a jar.
  2. Add about 1/3 of vegetable oil.
  3. Drop in food coloring and observe what happens.
  4. Shake salt on top of the oil/water/food coloring mixture. Observe, observe, observe.
  5. Pour or sprinkle more salt, as desired. You may want to touch it. (Tip: Have towels handy.)

– Potato Battery (from PBS Kids):

You will need:

  • Potato
  • Plate
  • 2 pennies
  • 2 galvanized nails
  • three 8 inch lengths insulated copper wire, each with 2 inches of the insulation stripped off one end
  • digital clock with attachments for wires

Procedure:

  1. First, cut a potato in half and put the two halves on a plate so they stand on their flat ends. The plate is there to keep your table clean.
  2. Then, wrap the end of one piece of wire around a galvanized nail and wrap the end of a second piece of wire around a penny.
  3. Stick the nail and penny into one half of the potato so that they’re not touching each other.
  4. Next, wrap the third piece of wire around the other penny and put it into the other half of the potato. Put the other nail into the second half of the potato, but this nail should not have wire wrapped around it.
  5. Now, connect the wire from the penny on the first half of the potato to the nail that has no wire on it in the second half of the potato.
  6. Finally, touch the free ends of the wires to the wires coming out of the digital clock.
  7. Does it work?
  8. You’ll probably have to try connecting the wires to the clock in different ways to get the energy to flow through the clock in the right direction.
  9. It’s just like putting batteries into a clock; they have to go in the right way.
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