Are you running out of ways to keep your kids entertained at home? Rather than play your tenth round of Uno, try a different approach with an activity that is both fun and educational. Bring a little bit of hands-on learning into your home with these cool science experiments that are fun for the whole family! Plus, Grossmont Center is your one-stop-shop for all DIY science experiments supply shopping!
*Disclaimer: Adult supervision is required for these experiments. You must supervise your children at all times while performing these cool science experiments.*
DIY Lava Lamp
Lava lamps have been around for decades and continue to be a hit with kids (and even adults). While store-bought lava lamps are cool, this DIY science experiment for kids is a budget-friendly alternative that can keep the kids fascinated for quite a while. Help them create their own with water, food coloring, oil, and antacid tablets. The execution for a DIY Lava Lamp is easy and the mess minimal (just make sure you do it outside or on a tray).
Supplies for a DIY Lava Lamp:
- Vegetable Oil
- Food coloring – primary colors or neon
- Original Alka Seltzer tablets
How to Make a DIY Lava Lamp:
- Fill a glass about 3/4 full with vegetable oil.
- Fill the rest of the glass with water.
- Add a few drops of food coloring.
- Break an Alka Seltzer tablet into 2 or 3 small pieces and have the kids alternate dropping them in the glass, one at a time.
- Watch your lava lamp erupt into activity!
Baking Soda Volcano
The baking soda volcano is a classic DIY science experiment for kids that we’ve all seen at least one time or another. This faux volcano is a cool science experiment that’s guaranteed to get the young ones excited. It not only teaches them about earth science but chemical reactions as well! Make it as elaborate as you want with a full island model or just the volcano itself. You may want to take this experiment outside when it comes time for eruption because it can create quite the mess!
Supplies for a Baking Soda Volcano
- 1 plate for the base
- 1-quart mason jar or soda bottle
- Nature items like flowers, sticks, leaves, and pebbles
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- Dishwashing detergent
- Red food coloring
- Warm water
How to Make a Baking Soda Volcano
- Build a Playdough volcano around the quart glass mason jar or soda bottle
- Add nature items for landscaping
- Start to make the baking soda volcano lava with ingredients listed above
- Mix red food coloring with warm water
- Pour mixture into the jar or soda bottle inside the volcano
- Add 6 drops of dish soap
- Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda
- Add vinegar
Not every cool science experiment involves explosions. The colored celery experiment is a more passive activity that packs just as much punch when it comes to learning. Give your kids a lesson on transpiration and how plants get their nutrients by sticking celery stalks in colored cups of water. Give it a day and then show your kids how the celery takes on the color of the water.
Supplies for Colored Celery
- Celery (the leafy parts show the color the best)
- Mason Jars
- Food coloring
How to Make a Colored Celery
- Put water into mason jars (fill halfway)
- Add food coloring
- Added lesson: Start with primary colors and then make secondary colors to create all colors of the rainbow
- Put the celery (leafy side up) in the water
- Have kids record their observations
- Leave overnight
- Have kids record new observations about what happened overnight
Who knew a lemon could create electricity? Wire, nails, sandpaper, wire pliers, and a medium-sized lemon are all you need to help your kids power a lemon battery with this cool science experiment. Although you can try it with younger ones, this higher level experiment is best for kids a little bit older (maybe 4th or 5th grade). Whether you do it for a school science project or just for a fun weekend activity, it’s sure to be fascinating for the whole family!
Supplies for Lemon Battery
- 1 lemon (or lime)
- 18 (or smaller) gauge copper wire
- 1 steel paper clip
- 1 zinc plated nail (#6 or #8)
- Small piece of sandpaper
- Knife or wire cutter
- Voltmeter (that can read tenths of a volt)
How to Make a Lemon Battery
- Use the wire strippers to first strip about 2 1/2 inches of plastic insulation off the copper wire.
- Clip that piece of stripped wire off of the main roll.
- Straighten the steel paper clip.
- Use the wire cutter to cut it to the same length as your copper wire.
- Use the sandpaper to rub out any rough spots in your wire or paperclip to make it as smooth as possible.
- Scratch zinc covered nail lightly with the sandpaper to expose a fresh surface.
- Roll the lemon gently on a table to break the cell walls and loosen up the juice inside. (The sour juice is what we need for the chemical reaction.)
- What kind of chemicals do you think makeup lemon juice?
- What do you think the sour flavor might tell us?
- Carefully stick the copper wire about 1 inch into the lemon.
- Touch your moistened tongue to the copper wire.
- Do you notice anything?
- Stick the paperclip or zinc covered nail into a spot in the lemon about 1/4 inch away from the copper wire. Make sure the wires don’t touch. The wires need to be close to each other because they will be swapping matter in the chemical reaction. If they are too far apart, then it won’t work.
- Touch your moistened tongue to both wire ends.
- What do you notice?
It’s time to get silly with this DIY science experiment for kids. Because elephants are giant, they need some pretty giant Elephant Toothpaste as well. Work together with your family to create a chemical reaction full of oozing goodness that can make an elephant’s teeth pearly white! This experiment will create a reaction called an exothermic reaction, which means it created foam AND heat! Hydrogen peroxide, food coloring, dishwashing soap, and a packet of dry yeast are all the ingredients you’ll need for this project. Make sure you take this one outside because it’s going to get messy.
Supplies for Elephant Toothpaste
- 1 clean 16-oz plastic soda bottle
- 1/2 cup 20-volume hydrogen peroxide liquid (You can get this from a beauty supply store like Empire Beauty)
- 1 Tablespoon of dry yeast
- 3 Tablespoons of warm water
- Liquid dishwashing soap
- Food coloring
- Small cup
- Safety goggles
- Small Funnel
How To Make Elephant Toothpaste
- Hydrogen peroxide can irritate skin and eyes, be sure to wear safety goggles!
- Pour hydrogen peroxide into the bottle.
- Add 8 drops of food coloring into the bottle.
- Add 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap into the bottle and swirl it around to mix it together.
- In a separate cup, combine the warm water and the yeast together and mix for about 30 seconds.
- Pour the yeast water mixture into the bottle (a funnel helps) and watch the foaminess begin!
Candy DNA Model
When you involve candy in any situation, the kids are going to love it! That’s why the candy DNA model is so popular. Get started on this cool science experiment by gathering toothpicks, Twizzlers, soft candy (that comes in four colors), and four cups. Refresh your memory on the components of DNA and you’re ready to build your double helix. Talk about a tasty way to learn about DNA!
Supplies for Candy DNA Model
- Twizzlers (represent the backbone consisting of sugars and phosphates)
- Small colored marshmallows or gummy candy (4 different colors to represent the A, T, C, G nucleotides)
How to Make a Candy DNA Model
- Assign a base to a candy color. You need exactly four colors of candies, which will correspond to adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine. If you have extra colors, you can eat them.
- Pair up the candies. Adenine binds to thymine. Guanine binds to cytosine. The bases do not bond to any others! For example, adenine never bonds to itself or to guanine or cytosine. Connect the candies by pushing a matched pair of them next to each other in the middle of a toothpick.
- Attach the pointy ends of the toothpicks to licorice strands, to form a ladder shape.
- If you like, you can twist the licorice to show how the ladder forms a double helix. Twist the ladder counterclockwise to make a helix-like the one that occurs in living organisms. The candy helix will unravel unless you use toothpicks to hold the top and bottom of the ladder to cardboard or polystyrene foam.
DIY Solar Oven
Have your kids pretend they’re on a Food Network cooking show by trying out the DIY solar oven project. Execution for this cool science experiment definitely requires adult help, so prepare yourself for that. By using a pizza box, aluminum foil, and a few other supplies, you can give a lesson on solar energy and how the sun’s rays generate heat. Melt up some smores and enjoy a yummy reward once you’re finished! Keep in mind, the best hours to set up your solar oven are when the sun is overhead—from 11 am to 3 pm.
Supplies for DIY Solar Oven
- 1 Pizza box
- Aluminum foil
- Box knife (or scissors)
- Permanent marker
- Elmer’s glue
- Plastic cling wrap
- Black construction paper
How to Make a DIY Solar Oven
- Use a box knife or sharp scissors to cut along three sides, leaving about an inch between the sides of the flap and the edges of the lid. Fold this flap out so that it stands up when the box lid is closed.
- Cover the inner side of the flap with aluminum foil. Tape excess tape to the back or outer side of the flap.
- Use clear plastic wrap to create an airtight window for sunlight to enter into the box, leaving about an inch of plastic overlap around the sides and tape each side down securely, sealing out air.
- Line the bottom of the box with black construction paper. (This is where your food will be set to cook.)
- Take it outside to a sunny spot and adjust the flap until the most sunlight possible is reflecting off the aluminum foil and onto the plastic-covered window.
- Use a ruler to prop the flap at the right angle and BAKE!
- Don’t forget to use oven mitts or potholders to lift your items out of the oven.
Tornado in a Jar
Looking for a quick and easy project? The tornado in a jar experiment only requires a few supplies and takes about five minutes to set up. It’s a fun way to explain how weather and centripetal force work to create a vortex while making the kids “ohh” and “ahh.” A mason jar, dish soap, water, and vinegar are the key ingredients to make this mini tornado come to life. Throw in some glitter and mini Legos for an even cooler outcome!
Supplies for Tornado in a Jar
- 3 cups of tap water
- 1 teaspoon of dish soap
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- Glitter or other small objects (optional)
How to Make a Tornado in a Jar
- Fill the mason jar with water – leave about an inch of space at the top.
- Pour dish soap and vinegar and close the lid.
- Swirl the jar for about 5 seconds and then set it down on the table to watch the tornado do its thing!
As you run down the list of DIY science experiments for kids, you can’t pass up the opportunity to make Frozen Slime! While there are so many different slime experiments out there, this one is super relevant if your little ones love the movie Frozen. With a bottle of blue glitter glue and a couple of other supplies like Borax and water, your kids can create stretchy slime that follows the Frozen theme perfectly.
Supplies for Frozen Slime
- Glitter glue
- Glass container
How to Make Frozen Slime
- Empty the contents of the glitter glue bottle into a glass container.
- Fill the glitter glue bottle with water and pour it into the glass container with the glue. Mix well.
- Cautiously mix 1 teaspoon borax into 1/2 cup of warm water.
- Slowly pour the borax/water solution in the glass container with the glue/water solution and stir to make your frozen slime!
Homemade Dinosaur Bones
If you and your family can’t make it to the Natural History Museum, don’t worry because these homemade dinosaur bones are just the artifacts you need to have a lesson on prehistoric times and the makeup of dinosaurs. Basic salt dough is the magic trick for this experiment. For an added bit of fun for the kids (and to keep them entertained longer) bury the bones in the yard or sandbox, so they can excavate them as real-life paleontologists do!
Supplies for Homemade Dinosaur Bones
- Food Coloring
- Sand or Soil
- Paint Brush
- Small Tray
How to Make Homemade Dinosaur Bones
- Mix together 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, and 1 cup of water.
- Knead the dough until it’s firm.
- Create dinosaur bones with the salt dough. (There’s no wrong way to do this.)
- Use food coloring to give the bones some “age” before baking them.
- Bake the dinosaur bones for 30 minutes per inch of thickness at 325 degrees.
- Take the bones out of the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Add the bones into a tray with sand or soil and have your little ones to dig through the sand to find the bones.
- Add in a dry paintbrush to sweep the sand off of the bones.
From lava lamps to DNA and mini tornados, you and your kids are ready to have plenty of days filled with cool science experiments! If you can’t find the supplies in your home, make a quick trip to Walmart, Target, and Dollar Tree for crafts, food items, tools, and more.