Emma is a busy mum to three even busier children. She is passionate about the importance of science education and making science fun for kids. You can find Emma’s science-based activities and investigations over on Science Sparks, a website bursting with creative and engaging ideas for children of all ages.
Emma has pulled together some fun science experiments that you can do at home to celebrate British Science Week.
Science at Home with Science Sparks
I’ve spoken to many parents over the years who find the prospect of science at home to be a little daunting; they worry it’ll be messy, not work or be hard to explain. There’s no doubt that sometimes it can be a little messy and it doesn’t always work, but part of the fun for me is working together with my children to find out why something didn’t work or how we can improve it.
As this week is British Science Week there’s no better time to have a go at some science at home. You’ll probably be surprised at how everyday kitchen items can be used for a fun investigation that’ll have both you and the kids asking questions and wanting to try more!
Ideas for Science at Home:
1. Make your own lava lamp
A lava lamp is almost mess free and especially good as it can be used over and over again.
Tall jar or bottle
Effervescent vitamin tablet
Fill the jar or bottle about one quarter full with water.
Fill to almost the top with vegetable oil.
The oil and water will separate into two layers with water at the bottom and oil at the top. If you shake the bottle to mix them up, they will separate out again!
Once the oil and water have separated, use a pipette to drop food colouring into the oil. This will drop through into the water, which is great fun to watch.
Drop half an effervescent vitamin tablet into the lava lamp and watch the bubbles!
Once the bubbles stop add another half tablet to make the lava lamp fizz again.
Why does this work?
The effervescent vitamin tablet reacts with the water to produce carbon dioxide gas. The bubbles of carbon dioxide carry the coloured water into the oil giving a lava lamp effect.
2. Why do things float in water?
This activity encourages children to think about why some objects float in water and some sink.
A selection of different balls – one should sink
A container filled with water
Ask the children to sort the balls into those they think will sink and those they think will float.
Test the balls one at a time.
Take a ball, which sank and wrap in bubble wrap secured with tape.
Test the bubble wrap ball again. It should float! If it doesn’t float add more bubble wrap until it does.
Why does this work?
Although the bubble wrap makes the ball weigh a little more, it also displaces extra water making the ball more buoyant. The pockets of air in the bubble wrap mean that the ball and bubble wrap together are less dense than the water, which means the ball floats!
3. Chocolate Challenge
This is a great activity for thinking about how things change over time and fantastic fun as it includes chocolate.
White, dark and milk chocolate buttons
Pen and paper
Place a white chocolate button in the centre of the experimenter’s hand and start the timer.
Stop the timer when all the chocolate has melted and record the time.
Repeat with a milk and dark chocolate button.
Try again, but this time the experimenter should close their hand and then try with the chocolate buttons resting on top of the hand.
Where do they melt the fastest? Why do you think that is?
Would a sugar-coated chocolate like an M and M melt faster or more slowly?
If you like the sound of the ideas above don’t forget to check out Science Sparks for more simple and fun science ideas for kids.