More Science Experiments

Here are some more science experiments to enhance your children's scientific skills and to encourage their interest in science. Summer is a great time to do these experiments with your children to build their interest in science. At the same time, many of these experiments will make what your children are doing in their science classes come alive. Be sure to choose those that are age-appropriate for your children. Some experiments should only be done under the supervision and with the help of adults.

Observing our World

One of the keystones of being a successful scientist is being a good observer. Our first activity for children involves going outside and observing nature.
Adopt a Tree: Find a tree and visit it frequently this summer or any season. Observe how it changes between the start and end of the season.
Vary the View: Go outside and lie on the grass. Look at the sky. Look up at the trees. Then climb a tree (supervised by an adult). Observe how the view changes between the two locations.
Bug Time: Walk in a park and look for bugs and worms. Place them in a jar that you have turned into a habitat for them. Observe them overnight and then release the bugs and worms where you found them.
Ant Trail: Look for ants. Sprinkle some sugar on the ground. Observe how and where they take it.
Bird Walk: Join a group or go on a walk with friends. Take a bird book from the library with you. See how many birds you can identify.

Learning all about Magnets

Magnets are fascinating to children because of the way they both stick together and sometimes move away from each other. Playing with them in the following activities is a first step in helping children learn about magnetism. You will need inexpensive magnets of different sizes for this activity.
1. Magnetic Attraction: Select a variety of objects that will and will not be attracted to a magnet, such as pot lids, plastic lids, paper clips, metal and wooden toys, plastic plates, coins, bolts and a staple. Have your child use the magnet to discover which objects it will attract and then divide the objects that are and are not attracted to the magnet into separate piles. See if your child can discover what each group of objects has in common.
2. Making a Needle Compass: Supervise younger children. Your child should tap one end of a needle at least 30 times with a magnet. The other end of the needle should be covered with a piece of tape. The needle should then be stuck through the middle of a wine bottle cork. Next, label the sides of a bowl: north, south, east and west. Fill the bowl with sufficient water so that the cork with the needle will float. No matter which way the bowl is turned, the needle should always point north.
3. Using the Compass: Give your children directions or have them give each other directions so they can practice using a compass. For example, they could be asked to walk 10 steps north and then five steps east.

A Patriotic Activity

This is a great activity or any patriotic holiday, especially the Fourth of July. Your children can combine celebrating the holiday with some science activities using the colors red, white and blue. Here are some safe things that they can do -- even younger children.

Create Fireworks in a Glass
1. Fill a tall glass almost to the top with warm water.
2. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil into another glass.
3. Add one drop of blue and one drop of red food coloring to the glass containing oil.
4. Stir this mixture briefly to break the food coloring into smaller drops.
5. Pour this mixture into the tall glass of water.
6. As the food coloring sinks, it will resemble fireworks.
This experiment shows that oil is less dense than water, so it floats on top of the water. Your children will also observe that food coloring dissolves in water -- but not in oil.

Fireworks in Your Mouth
1. Go into a dark room with a mirror.
2. Take the time to let your eyes adjust to the dark.
3. Place a Wint O Green Lifesaver (not sugarless) between your teeth keeping your mouth open.
4. Bite down hard on the candy, and you will see a blue-green light coming from your mouth.
The scientific name for this is "triboluminescence," the mechanical generation of light.

A Red, White and Blue Bracelet
1. String red and blue UV beads together to form a bracelet.
2. The beads will appear white inside your home.
3. Go outside, and these beads, which are sensitive to the sun, will turn red and blue.

Experiments Using Eggs

The Floating Egg
1. Place an uncooked in a glass of plain water.
2. Place another egg in a glass of water with 10 heaping tablespoons of salt.
3. Observe what happens to each egg.
4. Remove the eggs from the glasses and pour out half of the plain water. Refill the glass with the salt water.
5. Place an egg in this mixture and observe what happens.
You have learned about density. Salt water is denser than plain water, so the egg rises to the top.

The Soft Egg Shell (younger children should do this experiment with their parents)
1. Use a pin to make a hole on the ends of an uncooked egg.
2. Blow the insides of the egg out through one of the holes. If this doesn't work, make the hole larger.
3. Put the empty eggshell in a cup filled with a sugary soda and leave it there for 24 hours.
4. Observe what has happened to the eggshell.
5. Think about what soda might do to your teeth.

The Bouncing Egg
1. Place a hard-boiled egg in a bowl.
2. Cover the egg with vinegar.
3. After three days, remove the egg from the bowl.
4. Rinse the shell off the egg.
5. Bounce the egg on a hard surface.

Science and Balloons

For these experiments, a balloon will be used to introduce your children to different scientific concepts.

Humming Balloon: Find a large balloon and place a coin inside it. Then blow up the balloon and tie up the end. Move the balloon rapidly to cause the coin to roll around inside. If the coin rolls fast enough, you may hear the balloon hum. The scientific explanation is that the frequency with which the coin circles the interior of the balloon is resonating with one of the balloon's natural frequencies.

Balloons and Static Electricity: Static electricity is caused by an imbalance of positive or negative electrons that build up on an object that does not conduct electricity, such as a balloon. You also can observe it when you shuffle your feet across a carpet.
While you are facing a mirror, rub a balloon against the top of your hair 10 or more times. Then slowly lift the balloon upward and watch strands of your hair follow the balloon so it is standing on end. Keep moving the balloon up until your hair falls back down.

Balloon Rocket: Thread a long (10 to 15 foot) piece of kite string or dental floss through a straw. Tie one end of the string to a chair or high piece of furniture and the other end to another support. Attach two pieces of masking tape to the straw, and blow up the balloon (an "airship" shape balloon works best). Pinch the balloon so air does not escape. Affix the balloon to the tape. Now you can let go of the balloon and watch it rocket through the air. You have shown how Newton's Third Law of Motion works -- for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The Science of Taste
Pizza tastes great; so does chocolate ice cream. This is mostly due to the 10,000 taste buds on your tongue that send a message to your brain. Wait a minute! You can't give all the credit for how foods taste to your tongue. The nose also plays a role. Food releases chemicals that travel up your nose. This week's activity will let you investigate how great a role your nose plays in determining what you taste.
1. Choose eight different foods -- two each of sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavors.
2. Mash up the foods so their texture is not recognizable.
3. Divide the food into bowls so that everyone doing your taste test will have two samples of each food.
4. For your taste test, all the foods should be at room temperature.
5. You should sample each food to make sure that they taste all right.
6. To begin the experiment, have everyone doing the test put on a blindfold and a nose plug like those used in swimming..
7. Be sure to explain to your test volunteers that everything that they taste will be a familiar food and that they will taste all the foods first with the nose plug on and then with the nose plug off.
8. You will have one volunteer at a time taste the food. The other volunteers should be in another room.
9. For each food, ask the volunteer to identify the food, then record the result as correct or incorrect.
10. Have the volunteer take a sip of water before each food tasting.
11. After the volunteer has tasted all the foods wearing a nose plug, repeat the experiment without the volunteer wearing a nose plug.
12. When all the volunteers have completed the taste test, your results will show you the role the nose plays in identifying the taste of foods.
13. Do let the volunteers see the foods after each one's taste test is complete so everyone can see what role the nose plays in food identification.

Growing Plants in Liquids
When you think of growing plants from seeds, you naturally think of growing them in soil. In this week's activity, you will investigate hydroponics -- growing plants in water -- to determine if water or another liquid is best for growing bean seeds.
1. Fill glasses or plastic cups with 8 ounces of water, club soda, milk, iced tea, vinegar and orange juice. Write the names of the liquids on each cup.
2. Divide the seeds into six piles of the same number of seeds, and put one pile in each cup.
3. Place all the cups in a tray so they won't tip over in a spot where there are no drafts.
4. Make a chart to record how many seeds germinate (sprout; begin to grow) each day. Record this information each day.
5. After one or two weeks, make a chart to show the average length of the seedlings in each cup.
6. Remove the seedlings from a cup and place on a paper towel.
7. Measure the length of each seedling in a cup and figure the average length of all the seedlings in the cup. Record this information on the chart.
8. Repeat for each cup.
9. To complete the experiment, study the two charts and answer these questions: (1) In which liquid did the seeds germinate the fastest? (2) In which liquid were the seedlings the longest?

Cleaning Coins Is Science
When you want to get your clothes clean, you put them in the washing machine with soap. You do the same thing to yourself when you are dirty and hop in the bathtub or shower with a bar of soap. But did you know that you also can clean the penny in your pocket -- but not with soap?
To remove the dirt on a penny, you just need dirty pennies and a glass jar, vinegar and salt. Fill half of the jar with vinegar, and put in 1 teaspoon of salt. When the salt dissolves, add the dirty pennies. Wait a few minutes, then take out some of the pennies and lay them on a paper towel to dry. Then take out the remaining pennies, but rinse them well in water before putting them out to dry. Next, study the two different sets of dry pennies. You'll see some of the pennies are bright and shiny, while the others have turned a bluish-green color.
What happened? The vinegar solution remained on the pennies that were not rinsed in water. When the oxygen in the air hit them, they lost their shiny new look and turned bluish-green. However, when the other pennies were rinsed, the cleaning stopped, so they remained shiny.
You can continue this experiment by trying it on other coins. Do you think the same thing will happen?
To learn more about how coins are made, visit the government's website at

Making Bubbles
Making bubbles is not just fun. It also teaches scientific principles. You will need a glass of water and a glass of orange juice to start this experiment.
Add one teaspoon of baking soda to each glass. What will happen? You will see bubbles in the orange juice -- but not in the water. This is because orange juice is an acid that frees the carbon dioxide in baking soda, and a bubbly gas is formed.
Try adding a teaspoon of baking soda to other things like yogurt, lemonade, apple juice, black coffee and tea. You will get bubbles if it is acidic.