Fun Science Experiments to Try at Home

Fun Science Experiments to Try at Home

Not only can they be constructed with everyday items you’ll find about the house, these fun educational experiments for under 11s will keep brains busy and make science fun. Plus, of course, they can be the perfect way to spend some inevitably rainy afternoons.When a child grows up in a science-friendly home, they are encouraged to ask questions, think critically, experiment, explain their reasoning and more. So, dig out your goggles and lab coats and let’s get experimenting…

1. The Floating Paperclip

Teach your children about surface tension with this simple but effective experiment with some easy-to-find apparatus.

What do you need?

  1. A bowl of water
  2. Paperclips
  3. Tissue paper
  4. A pencil with a rubber on the end

What do you do?

  1. After filling a bowl with water, ask you children to try and make a paperclip float on the surface of the water. More than likely, the paperclip will sink.
  2. Tear a piece of tissue paper about the size of the palm of your hand and drop it very carefully onto the surface of the water.
  3. Ensuring that the paperclip is clean and dry, carefully place it on top of the tissue without touching either the tissue or water with your hand.
  4. Using the end of the pencil gently poke the tissue, avoiding the paperclip, until the tissue sinks. Amazingly, this should leave the paperclip floating behind on the surface of the water.

How does it work?

The paperclip isn’t actually floating – it is supported by the surface tension of the water. Water molecules are holding close together to form a sort of ‘skin’ on the surface of the water. If the conditions are correct when the tissue sinks, the molecules should still be close enough to hold up the paperclip. A fascinating demonstration of physics at work with all the wonder of a magic trick!

 

2. Test How Smells Affect Your Taste Senses

Discover that there is more to taste than you might think. Does food taste the same when you cannot smell it? Does texture become more important?

What do you need?

  1. A small piece of peeled apple
  2. A small piece of peeled potato
  3. Two different flavours of yoghurt

What do you do?

  1. Close your eyes and ask someone to mix up the pieces of apple and potato so you cannot tell which one is which.
  2. Pinch your nose and eat the pieces one after the other – can you tell the difference?
  3. Repeat the experiment with the yoghurts. Can you identify the flavour of a spoonful of yoghurt when you pinch your nose?

How does it work?

Your nose and mouth are connected through the same airway, meaning you taste and smell foods at the same time. Although your sense of taste can recognise salty, sweet, bitter and sour, the rest of our taste – such as identifying flavours – is through smell. Taking away our sense of smell limits the brains ability to tell the difference between certain foods. This experiment offers endless possibilities so keep trying out different foods to test the effect. Test your other senses by identifying foods with a blindfold covering your eyes, or by guessing what a food is by just using your hands.

 

3. Trap an Egg Inside a Bottle

Teach children about air pressure by demonstrating how you can get an egg inside a bottle, even though the mouth is smaller – without even touching it!

What do you need?

  1. A hard-boiled egg
  2. A dry, empty glass bottle with a mouth that is smaller than the egg
  3. A piece of newspaper (8cm x 8cm)
  4. A match

What do you do?

  1. Once the egg has been boiled, remove the shell and place the egg on top of the bottle to demonstrate that it does not fit through the opening.
  2. Fold the piece of newspaper into a strip, approximately 1cm by 8cm, so that it will fit comfortably inside the bottle.
  3. Light a match and ignite the strip of newspaper.
  4. Remove the egg from the mouth of the bottle and drop the burning strip of paper inside the bottle.
  5. Before the flame goes out, place the egg back on top of the bottle. Within a few seconds, the egg should be sucked inside the bottle.

How does it work?

Before the burning paper was placed inside the bottle, the air pressure was the same inside and outside the bottle. The burning paper heats the air inside the bottle and causes it to expand. Replacing the egg extinguishes the fire and seals the bottle. As the bottle cools, the air contracts, meaning the air pressure inside the bottle is less than the pressure outside it. The higher outer pressure pushes the egg inside the bottle. A pretty simple trick with very impressive results! Your kids will be astounded.

 

4. Create and Test a Parachute

Help your children learn about air resistance by designing and testing a parachute.

What do you need?

  1. A plastic bag or a similar light material
  2. Scissors
  3. String
  4. A small object to use as a weight, such as a small toy

What do you do?

  1. Cut a large square from your plastic bag or light material and trim the edges to make it into an
  2. Cut a small hole near the edge of each side and attach a piece of string to all eight of the holes.
  3. Attach the strings to the object that you are using as the weight.
  4. Drop the parachute slowly from a height to test how well it works.

How does it work?

When you release the parachute, the weight of the strings opens up a large surface area, slowing it with air resistance. You can customise the parachute by making it larger for greater air resistance. Also fun and simple to decorate, your child will love designing, creating and then testing their parachutes.

 

5. Make Your Own Invisible Ink

Use the contents of your kitchen cupboard to create secret codes and messages with homemade invisible ink.

What do you need?

  1. Half a lemon (alternatives: vinegar, half an orange or onion juice)
  2. Lamp or another light bulb
  3. Water
  4. Bowl
  5. Spoon
  6. Cotton bud
  7. White paper

What do you do?

  1. Squeeze lemon juice into a bowl, then add a few drops of water and mix the two together using a spoon.
  2. Dip the cotton bud into the lemon and water mixture and use it as a pen to write a message on the paper.
  3. Wait for the juice to dry so your message disappears.
  4. When you are ready to share your secret message, hold it near the light to warm it up and reveal your code.

How does it work?

As an organic substance, lemon juice oxidises (reacts with oxygen) and turns brown when heated, revealing what was previously a clear liquid. Your little ones will love creating secret messages for each other so much that they won’t even realise they’re learning about a basic chemical reaction.

 

Share your suggestions for fun science experiments at home or tell us how you got on with ours in the comment box below.

If your little one has a love of science, then why not take a look at our range of science books for kids to encourage their interests.