Arts and crafts aren't the only ways your kids can have fun getting messy; doing science experiments at home can be really exciting too!
Of course we're not talking about the type of science that requires lab coats and lengthy observations – we mean easy science experiments for kids that will fuel their curiosity and imagination. And with Persil to hand, you don’t need to worry about their clothes getting messy in the process!
Just be sure to supervise your kids and protect hands and clothes before trying out either of the fun science experiments to do at home, below.
Create a Rainbow Liquid Tower: Learning About Density
Even young kids know you can make towers by stacking blocks, but what about with liquid? Impossible, right? Wrong! Liquids of different densities can actually be stacked on top of each other.
Creating a liquid tower is one of easiest science projects you can do at home – you should already have everything you need in your cupboards. Just follow the instructions below.
You will need:
- Four glasses
- Four different food colours
- A bag of sugar
- A spoon
- A microwave
- A transparent turkey baster (if you don't have one, you could use a clean eye dropper).
How to create your liquid tower:
- Fill each glass with equal amounts of water, and add a few drops of food colouring to turn the water in each a different colour.
- Using the spoon, add one scoop of sugar to the first glass, two scoops of sugar to the second glass, three scoops of sugar to the third glass, and four scoops of sugar to the fourth glass.
- Mix the sugar into the water until it has completely dissolved (you may need to put the glass in the microwave for 15 seconds to speed this process along).
- Next, take the turkey baster and suck up a small amount of water from the first glass, and then do the same with the second glass, then the third, and the fourth.
- You now have a rainbow tower of stacked liquid.
- Explain the science behind this experiment using the information below.
The Science: What is density?
Density is a measurement of how much of a substance you can pack into a given space – be it liquid or a solid. The formula we use to work this out is Mass/Volume = Density.
In this experiment the mass is sugar and the volume is water. The volume of water stays the same, but the density – the amount of sugar it contains – is different in each glass. In our rainbow tower, the liquids can be stacked according to density: the least at the top and most at the bottom.
If you want to demonstrate what happens if you try to layer liquids of the same density you can add food colouring to two different glasses of water, then, without adding sugar, use the turkey baster to try to layer the liquids – the colours will mix!
Cool Coin Tricks: Learning about corrosion and oxidisation
Pull out a fist full of pennies from your pocket and you'll notice they're not all the same colour: some are dull and some are shiny. But what makes them look that way and how can you change a coin to make it look older or newer?
This fun experiment will teach your kids two different scientific concepts (and why it's important to brush their teeth after having fizzy drinks), but will also make them feel like they're performing magic too!
- Several regular pennies (not shiny)
- A glass
- A can of coke
- A bowl
- Some paper towels
- White vinegar.
How to transform your coins:
- Divide the coins into two groups.
- Fill the glass with the coke and place a folded paper towel in the bowl.
- Add half the pennies to the glass of coke and the other half to the bowl. Pour vinegar over the pennies in the bowl and let the magic do its work.
- After a couple of hours, you'll see the pennies in the coke will have turned shiny. The pennies in the vinegar will take longer to change colour, but will eventually turn a greyish green (you may need to add more vinegar if the paper towel dries out).
The science: Corrosion and oxidisation
Corrosion is the gradual destruction of metal through a variety of processes. Both groups of pennies demonstrate the effects of corrosion, but in different ways.
The coke eats away at the dirt on the surface of the pennies, making them look as good as new. The pennies in the bowl demonstrate oxidisation: what happens when copper is exposed to oxygen in the air. In real life, this process is much slower, but here the vinegar helps speeds things up. A chemical reaction takes place and produces an entirely new substance called malachite (the green that you can see).
Check out more fun science experiments you can try with your kids!