Children are born scientists. They follow their curiosity to discover the world. By trying things and observing, they gradually learn how things work. Experimenting and doing small experiments is a very pleasant way to respond to your children’s curiosity.
Learning interesting science and technology facts by experimenting with different materials that react in surprising ways can be a lot of fun and didactic. You’ll find that many experiments can be done with simple ingredients found in your home (always with adult supervision, of course). Basic materials can help you perform simple, safe, and perfect experiments for children.
Tips for doing scientific experiments
Doing experiments becomes even more valuable if you help your child think scientifically during experiments. That may sound more complicated to you than it is. You can achieve this in a few steps, for example by asking questions about the experiment:
Take the test and ask him what’s wrong?
After the experiment: how do you think this is?
Below you can read the explanation of all the experiments.
For young children, you can simplify the explanation a bit. Some experiments include a follow-up test so it is good to remember the procedure and explain where these scientific phenomena happen.
Here are some examples of fun and didactic experiments you can do at home
You can make a paper airplane and try some test flights with them. Turn a corner of one of the wings. Does the plane fly differently? This experiment teaches your child about aerodynamics. A small change in design can have major consequences on the way the plane flies.
You can experiment by making different models of paper airplanes. It measures how far planes fly. Make your child think about why one plane goes further than the other. You can also measure how long planes stay in the air.
Make a big bubble of dry ice
Have fun making a bubble of dry ice that will grow and grow as it fills with fog. This experiment is great for adults to do with children. Add water to the dry ice, cover it with a layer of soapy water and watch the bubble grow, how much will it grow before bursting? Try it and find out.
What you’ll need:
– A large bowl with a lip around the top (a smaller bowl or cup will also work)
– A strip of material or fabric
– Soapy mixture to make bubbles (water and a little liquid for washing dishes should serve).
– Dry ice – a piece for a cup, plus for a bowl.
It is very important to be careful with dry ice as it can cause damage to the skin if not used safely. Adults should handle dry ice with gloves and avoid breathing the steam directly.
– Put the dry ice in the bowl and add some water (it should start to look like a creepy cauldron).
– Soak the material in the soapy mixture and pass it along the edge of the bowl before dragging it on top of the bowl to form a layer of bubbles on the dry ice.
– Step back and watch your bubble grow.
Dry ice is carbon dioxide (CO2) in its solid form. At temperatures above -56.4 °C, dry ice changes directly from solid to gas, without becoming liquid. This process is called sublimation. When dry ice is put into water it accelerates the sublimation process, creating clouds of fog that fill the dry ice bubble until the pressure is excessive and the bubble bursts, spilling the mist over the edge of the container. Dry ice is sometimes used in theatrical productions and performances to create a dense fog effect. It is also used to preserve food, freeze laboratory samples, and even make ice cream.
Moving water molecules
What absorbs more heat?
When you’re in the sun on a hot summer day, it’s worth wearing light-coloured clothes, but why? Experiment with light, colour, heat, and some water to find out.
What you’ll need:
– 2 identical glasses or jugs
– 2 elastic bands or some adhesive tape
– White paper
– Black paper
– Do the same with the black paper and the other glass.
– Fill the glasses with the same amount of water.
Leave the glasses in the sun for a couple of hours before re-measuring the temperature of the water in each.
Dark surfaces like black paper absorb more light and heat than lighter ones like white paper. After measuring the water temperatures, the glass with the black paper around it should be hotter than the other. Lighter surfaces reflect more light, so people who wear light-coloured clothes in summer stay cooler.
Make a lava lamp
Learn how to make a lava lamp with this fun science experiment. Use simple household objects like vegetable oil, food colouring, baking soda, and a jar to create chemical reactions and coloured balls that move like a real lava lamp.
What you’ll need:
– A transparent plastic bottle
– Vegetable oil
– Food colouring
– Fruit salt (or other effervescent pills)
– Pour water into the plastic bottle until it is full about a quarter (you can use a funnel when filling the bottle so as not to spill anything).
– Pour vegetable oil until the bottle is almost full.
– Wait until the oil and water have separated.
– Add about a dozen drops of food colouring to the bottle (choose the colour you want).
– Observe how the food colouring falls through the oil and mixes with the water.
– Put some fruit salt in small amounts (about 5 or 6) and drop one of them in the bottle, things should start to get a little crazy, like a real lava lamp!
When the bubbling stops, add another bit of fruit salt and enjoy the show.
If you have tried the oil and water experiment you will know that the two do not mix very well. The oil and water you added to the bottle are separated from each other, with the oil on top because it has a lower density than water. The food colouring falls through the oil and mixes with the water at the bottom. The fruit salt you drop afterwards releases small bubbles of carbon dioxide gas that rise to the top and take away some of the coloured water. The gas escapes when it reaches the top and the coloured water falls back. The reason why fruit salt emits such effervescence is that it contains citric acid and baking soda, the two react with water to form sodium citrate and carbon dioxide gas (those are the bubbles that carry the coloured water to the top of the bottle).
Adding more baking soda to the bottle keeps the reaction going so you can enjoy your lava lamp for longer. If you want to show someone later, you can screw on the bottle cap and add more baking soda when you need it. When you’ve finished all your baking soda, you can take the experiment a step further by firmly screwing the lid of a bottle and flipping the bottle back and forth, what happens then?
Interest in science and learning is something we can stimulate in our children from a very young age. Science experiments for children are an excellent way to arouse their curiosity and get their interest in the world of science to grow exponentially.
Remember that some of these experiments cannot be performed with young children since, in addition to not yet understanding the concept and purpose of the experiments, the materials to be used are not suitable. Also, even if your child is already of age, it is always advisable not to leave him alone and accompany him throughout the procedure.
All the information we give you in this article is indicative as each child and each family is different and unique.
Carolina González Ramos
Do you have any questions or comments?
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