There are truly endless ways for children to learn through hands-on experiences, and science experiments provide exciting, fun and educational opportunities that don’t have to be complicated or expensive - these science experiments for kids we’ve selected are proof. Get creative with the kids with these captivating projects, and you might just find yourself learning a thing or two in the process.
Paper mache volcano
Paper mache is a favourite craft activity for kids, and so combining this with a science experiment is a sure way to keep kids happy while learning about science. They will love being involved in making this volcano, and enthralled as they watch it explode! During this activity you can share age-appropriate facts about volcanoes, and answer their science questions – which they’ll probably have plenty of.
What you’ll need:
- Paper cup
- Small funnel
- Stirring utensil
- Small water bottle or paper cup
- Cardboard measuring 2 ft. in diameter
- Masking tape
- Paper mache paste
- Acrylic paint in desired colours
- Dishwashing detergent liquid
- Red food colouring
- To make the volcano, crumple some newspaper to approximately the size of a large grapefruit. Stick the newspaper to the centre of the cardboard with the masking tape, then secure the bottle or cup upright on top of the mound, also with masking tape.
- Keep building the volcano by wrapping crumpled newspaper around the mound and the cup/bottle in a cone shape, making the base as wide as you like and tapering upwards towards the top of the volcano (where the mouth of the cup/bottle is).
- Coat the whole volcano in masking tape, so that the surface is smooth and the whole structure is secure, leaving the top of the cup/bottle open for the explosion to take place.
- Now for the paper mache- tear newspaper into 1-2 inch wide strips, dip a strip of newspaper into the paper mache paste (or paint it on with a paint brush), wiping off excess paste before applying it smoothly to the volcano. Apply the newspaper in different directions, overlapping until the volcano is completely covered. Dry for 24 hours. You can repeat the process if you want to change the shape of the volcano, but it will need to dry thoroughly between applications and therefore delay the project.
- Now it’s time to paint the volcano. With the help of your kids, paint grey rocks, green vegetation and red and orange stripes flowing down the sides to represent the lava that will bubble over. You can add dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals to the base (another opportunity for discussion about prehistoric life on earth).
- To make the lava, add 1 tablespoon of warm water, 3-4 drops of dishwashing liquid and the baking soda to the cup or bottle. In a separate cup, mix the vinegar and a few drops of red food colouring.
- To create the explosion, quickly pour the vinegar concoction into the bottle/cup, stand out of the way, and watch the explosion take place!
After this experiment, you can read a book or watch an educational YouTube clip on volcanoes to discuss what you saw.
Ever wondered why apples turn brown, and how to slow or stop the process? Learn about apple oxidation, and what liquids speed up or slow down the process, with this easy science trick at home. You’ll likely have all the necessary ingredients required, and it’s a practical experiment that teaches your child about food science.
To get started, in separate cups prepare each of these liquids:
- Honey and water
- Pure lemon juice
- Sugar water
- Salt and water
- Apple juice
- Orange juice
- Pure water
Prepare a large dish or tray with room for seven apple slices, and place labels at each space. Thoroughly coat each apple slice in one of these solutions, and quickly place in its labeled spot so you don’t get the liquids mixed up.
Document your results, and look up the explanation on YouTube, Google or in a library book to learn together.
Teach kids about capillary action, and how plants draw water up through their stems and distribute to their leaves through this colourful experiment.
What you’ll need:
- As many large cabbage leaves as you’d like
- Food colouring of your choice
- Glasses or vases for each cabbage leaf
Fill the number of desired glasses ¾ full with water, and add several drops of food colouring. Simply place a cabbage leaf in each glass, and watch the fascinating science of nature take place.
Grow crystals at home by transforming pipe cleaners with Borax. This science experiment needs extra precaution considering the chemical nature of Borax, so ensure children don’t come in contact with the substance, and that the end product is far out of reach (and explain to kids why they can’t eat it even though it may look like lollies).
Simply bend pipe cleaners into your desired shapes (hearts and stars are effective), then dip in borax and hang up once they stop dripping. Watch the pipe cleaners turn into beautiful decorations as the colourful crystals form.
Kids will learn about density and the properties of oil and water with this experiment. Because oil and water don’ t mix, adding some oil to food colouring and water means that you can distinctly see where the two separate, and adding in an antacid tablet causes bubbling that creates a lava lamp effect.
- Oil (baby oil or vegetable oil will do)
- Food colouring of your choice
- Alka-Selzer effervescent tablets
- Glass or bottle
Put 1 or 2 inches of water into the glass, add your food colouring and then fill the rest up with oil (leaving a few inches at the top for the bubbling). Observe how the oil and water don’t mix, and then add the antacid tablet and watch the bubbly show begin.
Encourage your little scientist with these interesting experiments, and be reminded that learning is most effective when it’s hands on and fun.
If you have curious, adventurous kids who love exploring the world and finding out how things work, they might thrive in childcare- search Toddle, the largest childcare database in Australia, to find an approved childcare centre near you.
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