Science projects provide hands-on answers to a kid's curiosities and are a fun, accessible way to introduce your child to the basic building blocks of our world. They also give you a chance to connect with your child by exploring chemistry, physics, and biology together. At-home experiments stimulate inquiring minds and usually only require a few tools and supplies.
Magic color-changing milk
Children can find the magic in anything, even simple little projects. If you have some food dye, milk, and dish soap lying around, you can build a fun experiment that is sure to bring a smile to your little one’s face. Pour some milk into a bowl or plate and scatter a few drops of food coloring. Carefully add a single drop of dish soap into the milk and watch as the colors “magically” mix seemingly on their own. Soap attracts the fat in the milk, causing the liquids to move.
Some science projects can amaze anyone, regardless of age. This instant ice experiment may just blow your mind, too. Place several water bottles on their sides in your freezer and let them cool for a little over two hours. At the two hour mark, take one out. The water should be cold, but not frozen solid inside the water bottle. After taking the bottle out of the freezer, make "instant" ice by hitting the bottle on the counter. The water should completely freeze inside the bottle almost instantly after impact! For a better visual of the reaction, turn a bowl upside down over a towel and place a large ice cube on top of it. Carefully pour one of the other bottles of water from the freezer onto the ice and watch as a column of ice forms.
Egg in a bottle
Science is amazing, but it can be hard to express that to children. The egg in a bottle experiment is almost a magic trick, so it’s sure to enthrall any future scientist. Find a bottle with a mouth that’s slightly smaller than an egg. You’ll also want to have a few hard-boiled eggs peeled and ready to go. Using a paper towel, coat the inside of the bottle’s mouth with oil. Light a small strip of paper on fire and place it in the bottle. Quickly place the egg small end down onto the bottle’s mouth. It will shake and slip inside the bottle despite seeming too large to do so.
Build a sundial
Telling time is easy now, but this wasn't always the case. For thousands of years, humans had to use sundials to harness the sun’s position to measure time. Building a sundial is a simple but fun way to teach your kids about the origins of how we measure time. Take a small amount of clay and roll it into a ball. Flatten the base and place a pencil directly in the center, allowing it to stand freely. Hot glue the clay to a piece of cardboard or poster board and find a sunny spot to start using the sundial. The pencil will cast a shadow that you can trace and label with the current time. Repeat this every hour, and you’ll soon have a working sundial.
Grow an avocado tree
Helping a child learn how plants grow not only teaches them about plant biology but also allows them to develop a sense of responsibility as they care for their growing plant. Avocado pits are great for experiments like this because you can easily watch them grow. Begin by inserting three to four wooden sticks near the bottom of an avocado pit. Place the pit over a glass of water, using the sticks to keep the pit suspended. As the water depletes, fill the glass back up. Eventually, the avocado roots will grow towards the bottom of the glass as its sprouts emerge from the top.
One of the most famous science experiments is the bubbly reaction that occurs after mixing vinegar and baking soda. This experiment is incredibly simple and helps kids learn about chemical reactions and their products. Using a funnel, pour baking soda into a balloon. Pour vinegar into a separate bottle and carefully fit the balloon over the mouth of the bottle. If the seal isn't tight, the experiment will fail! As the vinegar and baking soda react, carbon dioxide will fill the balloon, inflating it to a great size.
Apple and liquid oxidation test
Has your child ever wondered why an apple turns brown so quickly after you cut it? Gather five sandwich bags and label each one with a liquid you plan to test. Good ones to try are water, milk, lemon juice, and vinegar. Label the fifth bag as “nothing.” Fill each bag with the liquid that matches its label and two apple slices. Let them soak for a few minutes and then empty the bags of the liquids, leaving the apples inside. Check them every 10 to 15 minutes and record any changes. The brown areas show oxidation. More acidic liquids will oxidize first, protecting the apples for longer.
Mold and food science
Rather than just explaining to a kid what happens to old food, why not show them? Pick a few foods like bread, fruit, cheese, or chips, and place them in their own sandwich bags. Sprinkle a little bit of water inside each bag and seal them tightly. Over a week, you should see mold growth. Fresher foods like fruits will have more mold, while foods that are high in preservatives will have significantly less.
Kids love bright colors and stunning visuals, so there’s no better choice than this lava lamp experiment. Color a half-cup of water with food coloring of your choice. Remember, vibrant colors are best! Break some seltzer or effervescent tablets into two or three pieces and place them in a separate cup. Pour vegetable oil into another glass until it is around ¾ full. Add the colored water, leaving about an inch from the top of the glass. Let your kids add in a piece of the seltzer tablet at a time and observe as your glass transforms into a stunning lava lamp.
Tornado in a bottle
If your child has shown any amount of interest in the weather, this tornado in a bottle project is right up their alley. Fill a plastic bottle with water until it’s around ¾ full. Sprinkle in some glitter or other decorative elements and seal the bottle tightly. Turn the bottle upside down and quickly spin it. Once you stop, the water will continue moving, and a glitter tornado will take shape.