15 Science Experiments You Can Do With Your Kids

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...

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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.

8 Fun Bookmarks to Keep Your Place

iStock
iStock

Why settle for a torn piece of paper or receipt when you can have something way more exciting? These bookmarks are for readers who want to add some extra whimsy to their reading routine.

1. Sprouts; $12.50

These ingenious silicone markers don’t work like normal bookmarks. Shaped like adorable sprouts, they fit inside your book and mark the exact line you’re at on the page. Because they’re made with a flexible material, you can close the book easily with the sprout inside and it will spring back to shape when you open the book again. The sprouts come in sets of six. For a little luck, check out the four-leaf clover iteration.

Find it: Amazon

2. Butterflies; $10


If you've ever wanted to have a real Disney princess moment, consider buying these bookmarks, which will make it look like butterflies have perched on your books. The set comes with 10 pieces in a variety of designs.

Find it: Amazon

3. Crocodile; $13

These clever placeholders create the illusion that a crocodile is lurking on top of your book. When you lift up this intimidating bookmark, it shows the reptile’s sharp teeth, warning others not to dare lose your place. (If mammals are more your style, there is also a hippo option.)

Find it: Amazon

4. Lamp; $13

Let this lamp-shaped bookmark illuminate where you left off. The lamp shape sits on top of the book while the yellow light-beam fits snuggly between the pages. It comes in three colors: white, red, and gray.

Find it: Amazon

5. Literary Feet; $24

Remember that scene in The Wizard of Oz when the house fell on the Wicked Witch of the East and only her feet stuck out? You can recreate that iconic movie scene with a bookmark. Even better, the design isn’t restricted to just the witch: You can get all kinds of famous book character feet to stick out of your book. Just some of the literary legs available include Alice from Alice in Wonderland, a direwolf from A Song of Ice and Fire, and a magician from Harry Potter. There are also some non-book selections, like animals, ballerinas, and Yoda.

Find it: Amazon

6. Food; $30

Let some of your favorite food keep your place. The plush bookmarks feature a slice of pizza, ice cream, coffee, and an ice cream sandwich.

Find it: Amazon

7. Magnetic pals; $5

You’ll be even more motivated to read if you have a small buddy smiling at you from the side of your book. You can attach them to any place on the side of the page, so you know exactly where you are in the story.

Find it: Amazon

8. Pointers; $7

These bookmarks also mark the exact place in the book, but without the help of magnets. Instead, they come with stretchy loops that wrap around the entire book. A hand pointing can pinpoint the exact word, in case you’re the type that stops reading mid-sentence. They come in packs of three.

Find it: Amazon

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16 Soothing Facts About Muzak

Keith Brofsky/iStock via Getty Images
Keith Brofsky/iStock via Getty Images

Whether you know it as background music, elevator music, or, as Ted Nugent once called it, an “evil force causing people to collapse into uncontrollable fits of blandness,” Muzak has ruled speakers for the better part of a century. Press play on your favorite easy-listening album and scroll on for some unforgettable facts about the most forgettable genre of music.

1. Muzak is a brand name.

Much like Chapstick, Popsicle, and a certain type of vacuum-sealing plastic food container, Muzak is a registered trademark. It began as the name of the company that first produced the easy-listening instrumental tunes that played in factories, elevators, and department stores. As its popularity grew, people started to use Muzak as a generic term for all background music.

2. Muzak was invented by a U.S. army general.

Major General George Owen Squier
Library of Congress // Public Domain

During World War I, Major General George Owen Squier used electrical power lines to transmit phonograph music over long distances without interference. He patented this invention in 1922 and founded Wired Radio, Inc. to profit from the technology. The company first devised a subscription service that included three channels of music and news and marketed it to Cleveland residents for $1.50 per month. When Squier and his associates realized their product was a little too close to regular (free) radio, they started pitching it to hotel and restaurant owners, who were more willing to pay for a steady broadcast of background music without interruptions from radio hosts or advertisements.

3. The name is a portmanteau of music and Kodak.

In 1934, Squier changed the name of his business from Wired Radio to Muzak, combining the first syllable of music with the last syllable of Kodak, which had already proven to be an extremely catchy, successful name for a company.

4. Muzak has been releasing instrumental covers of pop songs since its inception.

The first-ever original Muzak recording was an instrumental medley of three songs performed by the Sam Lanin Orchestra: “Whispering,” by John and Malvin Shonberger, “Do You Ever Think of Me?” which was covered by Bing Crosby, and “Here in My Arms,” by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers from the 1925 Broadway musical Dearest Enemy.

5. Muzak was briefly owned by Warner Bros.

The sound of Muzak was wafting across the country by the end of the 1930s, which caught the ears of Warner Bros. The company bought Muzak in 1938, fostered it for about a year, and then sold it to three businessmen: Waddill Catchings, Allen Miller, and William Benton (Benton would later publish the Encyclopaedia Britannica and serve as a U.S. senator for Connecticut).

6. Muzak was designed to make factory workers more productive.

Muzak manufactured soundtracks, based on a theory called “stimulus progression,” that consisted of 15-minute segments of background music that gradually ascended in peppiness. The method was meant to tacitly encourage workers to increase their pace, especially during the productivity lulls that often occurred during the late morning and mid-afternoon.

7. Muzak helped calm anxious elevator passengers.

Since more advanced electric elevators diminished the need for elevator operators in the mid-20th century, passengers were often left alone with an unsettling silence that made them all too aware that they were hurtling upward or downward in a steel box. Soft, calming Muzak played through speakers offered the perfect distraction.

8. There’s a reason Muzak's tempo is slower in supermarkets.

Just like factory workers might move faster while listening to fast-paced tracks, you might slow down while shopping to slower-tempo Muzak—which is exactly what supermarket owners want you to do. The more time you spend in a store, the more likely you are to toss a few extra snacks in your cart. (It's unclear whether the slower music might inhibit the productivity of supermarket workers.)

9. More than one U.S. president endorsed Muzak.

Muzak was installed in the White House during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration, but he was arguably only the second biggest presidential fan of the genre. Lyndon B. Johnson actually owned Muzak franchises in Austin while serving as a U.S. Senator from Texas.

10. Andy Warhol was also a fan of Muzak.

Andy Warhol
Graham Wood/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Pop culture aficionado Andy Warhol supposedly said, “I like anything on Muzak—it’s so listenable. They should have it on MTV.”

11. Ted Nugent offered to buy Muzak for $10 million to “shelve it for good.”

In 1986, the Whackmaster put in a bid to purchase Muzak from parent company Westinghouse just to shut it down. According to the Ottawa Citizen, he called it an “evil force” that was “responsible for ruining some of the best minds of our generation.” Westinghouse rejected the bid.

12. Muzak didn’t formally introduce vocals until 1987.

As part of a rebranding campaign to modernize Muzak, the company started adding voice-accompanied tunes in 1987. Before that, Muzak broadcasts had only featured voices twice. The first was an announcement that Iran had freed American hostages in 1981, and the second was as part of a worldwide radio broadcast of “We Are the World” in 1985.

13. 7-Elevens blared Muzak in parking lots to chase off loiterers.

7-Eleven storefront at night
Mike841125, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1991, 7-Eleven parking lots in Southern California became well-trafficked watering holes for youth who evidently had no place else to go. To deter them from loitering with skateboards, beer, and lots of teen angst, the stores blared Muzak—and it worked. “It will keep us away,” one young loafer told the Los Angeles Times. “But they’re torturing themselves more than us because they have to sit inside and listen to it.”

14. Seattle is the capital of Muzak.

Though it's well known as the birthplace of grunge, Seattle also had a thriving elevator music scene. Muzak based its corporate headquarters there in the 1980s, and three other leading background (and foreground) music corporations opened in the city over the years: Yesco Foreground Music, Audio Environments Inc., and Environmental Music Service Inc.

15. Kurt Cobain wanted Muzak to cover Nirvana songs.

When an interviewer told the Seattle-based rock star that Muzak didn’t recreate Nirvana tracks because it found them too aggressive for its purposes, an amused Cobain said, “Oh, well, we have some pretty songs, too. God, that’s really a bummer. That upsets me.”

16. It’s no longer called Muzak.

In 2013, an Ontario-based sensory marketing company called Mood Media acquired Muzak. The company, which provides music, smells, signs, lights, and interactive displays to businesses to achieve a certain mood, consolidated all of its services under the Mood brand, effectively killing the Muzak name (at least officially).

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