Try it: 3 Fun Science Experiments

Make naked eggs, rainbow towers and sparkling growing (and sweet edible) sculptures.

Be careful not to pour too quickly and keep the funnel above the liquid as you slowly add each layer. Photos: Karen DB Photography

It’s time to dispel the notion that academic learning during the summer is cruel and unusual punishment, as far as the kids are concerned. Learning can and should be fun, not something to dread, especially when Mom or Dad is in charge. The education of science can be done through conducting cool home experiments that allow students of all ages to engage in fun, hands-on learning.

Rainbow Density Tower

Age Recommendation: 3 to 10 (see age-specific assignments at the end)

Experiment Details

Kids in preschool and kindergarten are familiar with “floaters and sinkers,” guessing and testing which objects will sink in water and which will float. This experiment takes it up a notch. Kids can make layers of different liquids, then search for objects that will float on levels of differing density.

How It Works

Density is defined as the mass of the material divided by its volume. Some liquids are more dense, or heavier, because there is more “stuff” packed into it than others. That is why lighter liquids (like water or rubbing alcohol) float above denser, or heavier liquids (like honey or Karo syrup) that sink to the bottom.

Questions to Ask Kids

  1. Which liquid do you think weighs the least?
  2. Most?
  3. Do you think that different brands of the same liquid will weigh differently?
  4. Why do you think the various layers formed?
  5. What items do you think will float? Sink?

Supplies

  • Honey
  • Light corn syrup
  • 100 percent maple syrup
  • Dawn blue dish soap
  • Water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • A graduated cylinder or mason jar that can hold at least 1 ¾ cups of liquid
  • Food coloring
  • Funnel
  • Small bowls
  • Assorted small objects that might sink or float. We used a Ping-Pong ball, a cherry tomato, a coin, buttons and beads, a Squinky (small plastic toy), a popcorn kernel and a bottle cap.

Instructions

  1. Measure ½ cup of each type of liquid into the small bowls.
  2. You may want to color each of the liquids to make a more dramatic effect in your jar.
  3. Start your experiment by pouring the honey into the cylinder. Make sure it does not touch the sides of the jar.
  4. Pour the other liquids SLOWLY into the container, one at a time, through a funnel. It is important to pour the liquids slowly and into the center of the jar. The liquids might mix a little as you are pouring but will settle after a few minutes.
  5. Make sure you pour the liquids in the following order:
  • Honey
  • Corn syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Rubbing alcohol

As you pour, the liquids will layer on top of one another. After you pour in the liquids you will have a seven-layer science experiment.

Float and Sink Test

Now have your child choose an item to drop in. Have him or her guess if it will float or sink. Then carefully drop it in the middle of the jar. Some items will float, some will sink, and some will settle on a layer in between.

Age-Recommended Tasks

3- to 4-year-olds: Search the house for items that might float or sink. They can also drop objects in during the float or sink part of the experiment.

5- to 6-year-olds: Help measure 1/2 cup of each liquid into small bowls and add food coloring.

7- to 10-year-olds: Add the liquids, one at a time, through the funnel.

Our Findings

Luca thought the liquids would mix and was surprised at the layering effect. Both kids thought the object would float or sink and were surprised that some were suspended.

 

Growing Crystals

Age Recommendation: 3 to 10 (see age-specific assignments at the end)

Experiment Details

Crystals are a special kind of solid material where the molecules fit together in a repeating pattern. The pattern causes material to form all sorts of unique shapes. One experiment will allow you to grow edible (sugar) crystals and the other will produce non-edible (Borax), but pretty, decorative crystals.

Questions to Ask Kids

  1. How are the sugar crystals similar or different from the Borax crystals?
  2. Why do you suppose that is?
  3. How did the crystals grow?
  4. Why did one take longer than the other?

Borax Crystals Supplies

  • Pipe cleaner
  • String
  • Wide-mouthed jar
  • Borax* (check your local grocer’s laundry section)
  • A pencil
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Scissors

*Borax requires adult supervision. It should not be consumed and might irritate skin.

Instructions

  1. Have your child make a shape with the pipe cleaner, such as a star. Make sure that the shape can fit through the mouth of the wide-mouthed jar.
  2. Attach the string to one side of the star. Tie the other end of the string to a pencil. You want the string long enough that the star hangs into the jar but doesn’t touch the bottom.
  3. Once you have your length set, remove the star and pencil and lay it to the side.
  4. Using a measuring cup, have your child figure out how much water it will take to fill the jar. You will need 3 tablespoons of Borax, per one cup of water.
  5. Bring the water to a boil in a pot, and then add the Borax. Stir to dissolve. Some of it may settle to the bottom of the jar.
  6. Stir in some food coloring, if you want colored crystals.
  7. Hang the star in the jar with the pencil resting on top. Make sure that you’ve added enough water to completely submerge the star.
  8. Put the jar somewhere where it won’t be disturbed. This is important for crystal growth. Let it stay in one place overnight.
  9. After a few hours, go check on the jar. What do you see?
  10. The next day, have the kids check on the crystals. Your child can pull the star out of the jar. Untie the string from the pencil and you’ve got yourself a great window decoration.

Rock Candy Crystals Supplies

  • Wooden skewer
  • Clothespin
  • Tall narrow glass jar (we used a recycled Starbucks coffee bottle)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Food coloring

Instructions

  1. The night before you plan to begin the experiment, prepare the wooden skewer by soaking it in water for 10 to 15 minutes, then rolling it in sugar. Let it dry over night. This preps the skewer for crystal growth.
  2. The day of the experiment, pour the water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling, gradually add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved. Let this mixture boil for 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes, add food coloring then let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Pour the mixture into the jar. Lower the skewer in the mixture, sugar side down. Use the clothespin to hold the skewer in the mixture; making sure it does not touch the bottom or sides of the jar.
  5. Find a quiet place where the jar can rest for 2 to 3 days. Place it in a shallow pan of water if ants are a concern.
  6. After 2 to 3 days you can remove the skewer and take a good look at the sugar crystals that have grown.

Yum! The kids will love this edible sugar crystal experiment. Photo: Karen DB Photography

Our Findings:

Luca was surprised at how quickly the Borax crystals grew. We saw them start to form within hours. He was also surprised how “tough” they were and that they remained the same after a day or two in the solution and did not continue to grow.

 

The Incredible, Non-Edible Naked Egg

Age Recommendation: All Ages

Experiment Details

An egg with no shell is “naked,” hence the name of this experiment. Most kids have experience cracking eggs or coloring them for Easter, but most haven’t removed the shell of a raw egg using vinegar and making them translucent, or transforming a hard-boiled egg into a bouncy ball. This is a two-day experimental process. Kids will enjoy watching the eggs transform.

How It Works

Vinegar is an acid that breaks down the egg shell which is made of calcium carbonate. The calcium floats around in the vinegar. The carbonate, which you see as bubbles, is changed into carbon dioxide.

Questions to Ask Kids

  1. What do you think will happen when each egg is covered with vinegar?
  2. When the vinegar is added, what forms around the eggs?
  3. Which egg (raw or hard-boiled) will become more bouncy?
  4. (At the end) How does each egg feel?

Supplies for the Naked Egg

  • Raw egg
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • 2 tall glasses or Mason jars
  • Vinegar, enough to cover each egg

Instructions

  1. Place each egg in a separate tall glass or Mason jar and cover with vinegar.
  2. Leave the eggs in the vinegar for a full 48 hours. Don’t disturb.
  3. After 48 hours, remove the eggs from the vinegar and carefully rinse with water.
  4. Compare and contrast the look and feel of both eggs.

 

Examining the Raw Egg

The egg looks translucent because the outside shell is gone, only the delicate membrane remains. If you shake the egg gently, you can see the yolk sloshing around in the egg white. Hold it up to a flashlight and find the yolk.

Examining the Hard-Boiled Egg

The shell has also been removed by the vinegar bath. This egg is much tougher and will bounce.

Our Findings:

We read that the hard-boiled egg would bounce after two days in vinegar. Isabella dropped the raw egg a few inches and it did seem to bounce more than the hard-boiled egg, but after adding another inch, the raw egg splattered.

Mahalo to SteveSpanglerScience.com and kiwicrate.com for the inspirations!