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15 Science Experiments You Can Do With Your Kids

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by Therese Oneill

Time to get messy, light some stuff on fire, and use food products in ways they were never intended! Parents and teachers across the internet have found fun ways to teach kids science, and have documented the experiments for the rest of us. Here are 15 hands-on science lessons that will stick in a kid’s brain far longer than anything they get from a textbook.

1. Lemony Sudsy Eruptions @ Blog Me Mom


Fun Quotient: A much less stinky take on the trusty vinegar and baking soda eruptions. The experiment uses citric acid, food coloring, and clear hand soap to make fluffy frothy science.

Teaches: The baking soda base and the citric acid create an endothermic reaction while releasing carbon dioxide in bubble form. You have to look up endothermic reaction on your own. 

2. Alcohol soaked Money on Fire @ Barefoot in Suburbia

Fun Quotient: Holy crud—you’re burning money! Fire! Money! Fire!

Teaches: Combustion, or what a fire likes to eat. Rubbing alcohol, yum. Cold wet cottony dollar under the alcohol, meh. Not enough to keep burning once the alcohol is gone.

3. Homemade Rock Candy Skewers @ Home made simple

Fun Quotient: It makes pretty rocks you can eat!

Teaches:  Water evaporates, the sugar crystals don’t. The sugar precipitates, meaning it separates from the supersaturated sugar water. Seed crystals form on your stick, attracting more sugar crystals, until finally, about a week later, you got yourself some tasty science on a stick.

4. Make Your Own Electromagnet @ Science Bob


Fun Quotient: They get to use sharp things and electricity, which is Frankenstein-level cool. 

Teaches: Electromagnets are everywhere. They make motors spin, CDs play, and most modern cars run. This experiment shows the difference between a permanent magnet (the ones on your fridge) and the kind that can be turned on and off at will. When turned on, the electricity forces the molecules in the nail to attract metal, even though the nail itself isn’t magnetic. 

5. Invisible Ink From Lemons @ Show Tell Share


Fun Quotient: Invisible ink! Hello? INVISIBLE INK!! (Also fire if you want to go that route, but it’s not necessary or entirely safe to do so).

Teaches: Good old oxidation. Lemon juice is acidic enough to resist oxidation in open air, but a little heat “rusts” it right up.  

6. Walking on Eggs @ Steve Spangler Science


Fun Quotient: Like walking on hot coals, but somehow more naughty!

Teaches: Structure matters. No matter how flimsy an egg shell is, its actual shape gives it amazing strength, as long as you put the weight in the right place. 

7. Tea Bag Rocket @ Ordinary Life Magic

Fun Quotient: I really don’t think one can overemphasize how much children enjoy watching things burst into flame and fly around the kitchen. 

Teaches: Hot air rises, natch. But it also teaches “convection current,” which is the force that makes it shoot into the air. 

See Also...

Man Wearing Mentos Suit Dropped in Tank of Diet Coke
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10 Science Experiments You Can Eat With Your Kids
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8 Countries With Fascinating Baby Naming Laws

8. Dancing Oobleck @ Housing a Forest


Fun Quotient: Oobleck is cornstarch and water, and if you didn’t play with it as a child then I am so sorry for you because you probably grew up in a Dickensian work house. By itself it’s fun, but add a sub-woofer and some paint, and you have a dance party. 

Teaches: Sound waves. You can’t see them, but they exist, and they like to party. 

9. Ivory Soap Monster @ bebe ala mode designs

Fun Quotient: Instead of having to wash with it, you get to nuke it until it becomes a frothy cloud of 99% pure mess.

Teaches: When the gas molecules trapped in the soft pliable soap get hot, they need more space. They make a break for it and take the soap with them. As the temperature of the gas increases so does its volume.

10.  Easy Marshmallow Catapult @ it’s always autumn


Fun Quotient: Weaponized Marshmallows.

Teaches: Force= Mass x Acceleration. A little thing going very fast will hit you just as hard as a big thing going slow. That’s Newton’s second law, don’t-cha-know. 

11. Magic Plastic Bag @ TinkerLab


Fun Quotient: Time to get stabby.

Teaches: How polymers work. Also, on a different level, why you’re not supposed to take the arrow out of a person after they get impaled in movies.

12. Gummy Bear Torture @ Science for Kids

Fun Quotient:  Deforming gummy bears with different evil potions, and the most gruesome of all: eating them.

Teaches: Osmosis, and which kinds of liquids do it best. 

13. Making an Optical Illusion @ Science-Sparks


Fun Quotient: It’s a teeny cartoon!

Teaches: Your eyes aren’t entirely reliable. Optical illusions occur because our brains fill in the gaps for whatever our eye isn’t processing. So two pictures become one.

14. Chain Reaction Popsicle Sticks @ Frugal Fun for Boys


Fun Quotient:  It’s tough to get started, but the payoff is clatter and splatter fun.

Teaches: Nuclear physics. Sorta. At least a demonstration of potential energy, kinetic energy, and chain reactions.

15. How to be a Polar Bear @ Discover and Learn

Fun Quotient: Goop is glory. 

Teaches: The natural glory of fat, and how arctic animals can survive temperatures that kill everything else.

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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History
P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

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