7 Fun Science Experiments For Each Day Of The Week
Did you know that there are lots of objects around the home that can be used for a fun science experiment? They can mostly be found in your kitchen cupboards (hint: you might need to stock up on baking soda, food colouring… and empty those vases too!). So, if you’re looking for fun, active and memorable ways to fill those remote learning hours – we’ve come up with an easy and exciting experiment that kids can carry out at home each day of the week (with parental supervision, of course!).
Show your children how to start their science week with a balloon…
Self-inflating balloon Monday
What? You’ll need a 1-litre plastic bottle, a balloon, a funnel, 1x teaspoon of baking soda, 3x tablespoons of vinegar, a steady hand… and maybe some sellotape.
How? Rinse out the plastic bottle and leave it to dry, then add the baking soda to the bottle (it’ll be less messy if you do this with a funnel). Next, you want to add the vinegar into the balloon (you’ll need that funnel again). Keep the balloon upside down as you pour the vinegar from the funnel into the opening of the balloon. Then carefully attach the balloon to the bottle by stretching the opening of the balloon over the top of the bottle. When the balloon is attached, simply raise the balloon so that the vinegar pours from inside the balloon and down into the bottle. Make sure the seal around the bottle top and balloon opening is secure (you may want to use your hand or some sellotape). What you should see is some bubbling action going on at the bottom of the bottle – this is the vinegar reacting with the baking soda to give you one self-inflating balloon!
Why? The reason that baking soda and vinegar react is because when they mix there is an exchange of atoms. The baking soda is a base which takes a proton from the vinegar (an acid). When the baking soda takes the proton, the chemical reaction releases a gas because it changes into CO2 (carbon dioxide) and H2O (water).
Homemade sundial Tuesday
What? Grab a stick, rod or pencil, some Playdough or Blu Tack, a paper plate, a large piece of cardboard or poster board, some paperweights or stones and a timer.
How? Firstly, place your stick, rod or pencil in the middle of your ball of Playdough or Blu Tack so that it stands upright, then place it in the middle of a paper plate. Take it outside to your garden and position it in the middle of your piece of cardboard or poster board on the ground. Remember to choose a great sunny location that won’t be disturbed or hidden by trees, plants or other shady things! We recommend weighing down the power plate with stones or paperweights in case it gets too windy and falls. Now you can start marking times on the hour from the time you begin (e.g. 10:00 or 11:00). This can be done by drawing a line to indicate the time of day at the point where the shadow from the stick, rod or pencil appears on the cardboard or poster board at the edge of your paper plate – just like a clock face. Now set the timer so you can mark the new shadow every hour for the rest of the day. It’s literally hours of fun!
Why? The Earth rotates on its axis which makes it seem like the sun is moving around us – but it’s actually us. This makes objects cast shadows at certain angles, just like the “gnomon” (your stick, rod or pencil) does across the surface of the sundial (the paper plate). As the Earth continues to rotate, the shadows move around the sundial to show different times of the day until dusk.
Float or sink Wednesday
What? You’ll need a sink, bath, container or paddling pool – plus a variety of objects around the home and garden (that are allowed to get wet!), such as pencils, crayons, buttons, balls, bottles, coins, apples, grapes, pears, flowers, leaves, sticks… and a rubber duck! Oh, and pen and paper to record your findings.
How? Simply fill up your containers with water and choose from your collection of objects. Test each object one at a time to see if they float or sink. This can be made into a game by guessing – or hypothesising – which objects you think will float or sink and record the results afterwards.
Why? An object will float or sink depending on how the position of its molecules affects its density. If an object is denser than water – it will sink. If it is less dense than water – it will float. If the object is hollow inside – it will float too (because water is denser than air).
Balloon-powered car Thursday
What? Collect a balloon, an empty carton of juice, a straw, 2x toothpicks, 4x bottle caps, coins, an elastic band and some sellotape.
How? Begin by making little holes in the middle of each bottle cap so you can attach one to each end of a toothpick. When these are in place, use the sellotape to stick the toothpicks to the bottom of the empty juice carton giving you four wheels. Don’t forget to make sure there is space for the bottle cap wheels to rotate on either side of the carton. Next, flip the carton over because it’s time to get the engine ready! To do this, attach the balloon to one end of the straw and keep it secure with the elastic band. Then, stick the straw lengthways to the top-side of the carton – with the balloon hanging over the front end of the carton. Now blow that balloon up! If the back end of the carton lifts when it moves, all you need to do is use the tape to stick some coins on the back end of the carton to balance out the weight.
Why? Once the balloon is inflated, the air escapes back out of the straw and pushes against the air behind the carton. The movement is caused by the air outside pushing against the air from the straw with the same force. Congratulations, you’ve created a fun toy and kinetic energy!
Shaving foam rain cloud Friday
What? Find a transparent container, preferably one that’s made from glass (like a vase), a bottle of shaving foam (not gel!), blue food colouring, water and a pipette.
How? The shaving cream represents nimbus clouds and the blue food colouring acts as the rain drops. To watch this fun effect, fill ¾ of the glass container with water and add the shaving foam so that it suspends in the space above. Remember to give the bottle a good shake to get those clouds looking fluffy! In a separate bowl, mix the blue food colouring with some water and use the pipette to start adding the colourful mixture to the shaving foam clouds from above. When the foam clouds get too heavy from holding the blue water, you’ll see it start to rain and pour into the water below!
Why? The water cycle or ‘hydrologic cycle’ begins when water evaporates from the Earth’s surface and rises into the atmosphere. Here, the water vapours cool and condense to become clouds. When the temperature lowers, the vapours turn back into liquid which is called ‘condensation’ – before falling back to the Earth’s surface as raindrops or ‘precipitation’. This is a continuous cycle that uses the energy from the sun.
Make-your-own slime Saturday
What? Slime requires ¼ cup of water, ¼ cup of white PVA glue and ½ cup of contact lens solution (containing sodium borate). Food colouring and glow-in-the-dark paint are optional (ask a parents permission first!).
How? Mix the water and PVA glue. To add a dash of colour – include a few drops of food colouring to the solution. Otherwise you might like to add glow-in-the-dark paint to the glue mixture – making it spooky slime! Then add the contact lens solution and stir everything together. It’s almost like dough or pancake batter – so keep kneading and stirring until you’re happy with the slimy consistency!
Why? When the glue and contact lens solution are mixed, the borate ions link the polymer molecules together to transform glue into a free-flowing slimy substance!
Volcanic eruption Sunday
What? All you need is another vase, 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda, ½ cup of vinegar, up to 7 drops of food colouring (typically red or orange to look like lava) and a pot, pan or container to collect the molten spill! If you want to add some glitter, 1-2 teaspoons is plenty.
How? This is a fast-paced experiment, so it’s best to place the vase on the container to prevent any mess immediately! Then add the baking soda to the bottom of the vase, followed by the food colouring and, if you’ve decided to go with the glitter, now’s the time to sprinkle it in. The last step is to pour the vinegar – then stand back, watch and video your volcano!
Why? Baking soda is a bicarbonate (NaHCO3) and vinegar is an acetic acid (HCH3COO). When they are mixed, the reaction creates carbon dioxide – just like the self-inflating balloon from Monday!
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