3 At-Home Experiments to Try With Your Children
20th March 2020
Supported by a team of Educators, the children have participated in a variety of experiments at the Centre, ranging from making their own butter and lemonade to blowing up a balloon using Pop Rocks.
Here, the team shares three of the children’s favourite experiments, all of which can be done easily in the comfort of your own home.
The best thing about these experiments is that they require relatively few materials (most of which you can find around the house) and encourage a sense of curiosity in your child. Take the time to ask them questions throughout, asking their opinion and what they think will happen next.
1. DIY Lava Lamp
- A clean plastic bottle (ideally one with smooth sides) or glass jar
- Vegetable oil (mineral oil and baby oil work also)
- Fizzing tablets (such as Alka Seltzer)
- Food colouring
- Fill the bottle up about 1/4 with water.
- Pour the vegetable oil in the bottle until it is almost full. You may want to use a measuring cup with a spout or a funnel to avoid spilling. Once filled, wait a couple of minutes for the oil and water to separate.
- Add a few drops of your favourite food colouring. Watch as the food colouring sinks through the oil.
- Break your fizzy tablet in half and drop part of it into the bottle. Get ready, here come the bubbly blobs.
- If you have one handy, grab a torch, turn off the lights and drop in another half tablet. Get your child to shine the torch through the lava lamp while the blobs are bubbling.
How it works
The oil floats on top of the water because it is less dense, or lighter, than water. The food colouring has the same density as the water so it sinks through the oil and mixes with the water. When you add the tablet it sinks to the bottom then starts to dissolve. As it dissolves it makes gas, also known as carbon dioxide. Gas, or air, is lighter than water so it floats to the top. The air bubbles bring some coloured water with them to the top. When the air comes out of the colored water blob, the water gets heavy again and sinks. It does this over and over again until the tablet is completely dissolved.
2. Melted Crayon Rainbow Art
- Hair dryer
- Art canvas
- PVA Glue/super glue or glue gun
- Glue all of the crayons onto the top of the canvas and leave to dry for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, check the crayons to ensure they have dried properly and are securely attached to the canvas.
- Using your hair dryer on high heat, hold over the top of the crayons and wave the hair dryer back and forth along the line.
- Continue to apply heat with your hair dryer (it may take up to 30 minutes for the crayons to completely melt) as you observe and see an amazing art piece unfold.
- Identifying all the colours.
- Predictions on what colours are made when two colours are mixed together.
- Asking your child what they believe will happen before you start using the hair dryer.
3. Melted Rainbow Ice
- Bowls or dishes (for making the ice)
- A large tray with sides
- Rock salt
- Food colouring
- Droppers or a spoon
- Make the ice by pouring water into a bowl or bowls and freezing overnight.
- Once the ice is reading, set up your melting station (large tray and newspaper/an old towel if required) and tip your ice ‘domes’ onto the tray.
- Sprinkle your rock salt over the tops of the ice domes and observe any changes that occur.
- Use a dropper or spoon to add drops of food colouring over the top of the ice domes. Experiment by using different colours to achieve different effects, and observe how the ice melts once in contact with the salt.
How it works:
This was a fun experiment that can teach chemistry or chemistry terms on all different levels, such as how sodium (Na) from salt (NaCl) reacts to ice by heating it up and melting it, and how salt diffuses in different water temperatures.
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