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Our Favourite Science Experiments

Why is the sky blue? Why does water freeze? Why do flowers grow? Why? Why? Why?

 

Understanding why is a key stage for all children and to be honest, some adults still have a deeply rooted sense of curiosity. When time and ingredients permit, it's great to be able to discover the answers to some of these questions together, using simple science.

When we are busy it seems simpler to not engage in these unending questions, but they are a sign that your child is trying to come to terms with the concept of cause and effect. They are starting to understand that everything happens for a reason and, they trust that you will have the answer.

Science experiments for kidsmicroscope

Remember that at some stage they will stop asking you questions, so enjoy it while you can!

Use the responses to open up a dialogue with your child. The more they think you are willing to listen on the simple things, the more they will feel they can open up when something significant is plaguing them.

Having said that, sometimes we don't know the answer! Rather than shutting down the dialogue, why not try to discover the answer together? Science is a great activity to do with your children as it's educational, but fun! And the internet is full of simple experiments that you can do from your kitchen, or garden.

Sometimes it's just fun to impress them with a little bit of knowledge that either incites giggles or shocks and surprises.

Find below a few of our favourite science experiments for kids, that can be done with common items.

Growing seeds

Watching something grow is always exciting for children and it keeps their attention over an extended period of time. Depending on the age of your children depends on how detailed you make this experiment. What do plants need to grow?

What you'll need:

  • 4 (8) plastic cups
  • Soil
  • Water
  • 4 (8) seeds (We suggest runner beans or sunflower seeds as they have a short germination period and are easy for the children to handle.)
  • Permanent marker

Directions:

  1. Write the following on the cups:
  • CUP 1: INDOORS, WATER, SUN
  • CUP 2: INDOOR, WATER, NO SUN
  • CUP 3: INDOOR, NO WATER, SUN
  • CUP 4: INDOOR, NO WATER, NO SUN
  • CUP 5: OUTDOORS, WATER, SUN
  • CUP 6: OUTDOOR, WATER, NO SUN
  • CUP 7: OUTDOOR, NO WATER, SUN
  • CUP 8: OUTDOOR, NO WATER, NO SUN
  1. Have your child guess what conditions they think will produce the healthiest plant.
  2. Fill each of the plastic cups 2/3's with soil. If it's May or June, use 8 cups and trial the same experiment outside as well as inside.
  3. Have your child poke a hole in the middle of the soil in each cup. The whole should be as deep as the length between their knuckle and fingertip.
  4. Place one seed in each hole. And cover them loosely with soil.
  5. Add water to Cup 1, 2, 5 and 6 only.
  6. Place Cup 1 and 3 in a sunny location inside the house.
  7. Place Cup 2 and 4 in a dark place in your house, such as a cupboard.
  8. Place Cup 5 and 7 in a sunny location outside, on a windowsill or in your garden.
  9. Place Cup 6 and 8 in a shaded area of the garden.
  10. Draw the following table and fill in a description of each plant on a daily basis.

Day

Cup 1

Cup 2

Cup 3

Cup 4

Cup 5

Cup 6

Etc. 

Day 1

             

Day 2, etc

             

NOTE: You can do this experiment any time of year but May is the ideal time if you want to plant the seeds outside!

Coke bottle and Mentos

Looking for a way to show your children you still know how to have fun and make a mess? We've all seen or heard that if you drop a Mentos into a fizzy drink the chemical reaction between the two items causes an impressive display.

There are many variations of this experiment based on what fizzy drink and what type of Mentos work the best, but the most impressive is the comparison between different beverages using original mint Mentos.

What you'll need:

  • An open space (a driveway, garden or even the park!)
  • A few packs of original mint Mentos (the fruit flavoured ones are covered in a coating that stops the reaction from taking place)
  • A 2 litre bottle of Coke
  • A 2 litre bottle of 7UP
  • A 2 litre bottle of Diet Coke
  • A 2 litre bottle of Sparkling water
  • A digital Camera

Directions:

  1. Place the bottles 1-2 feet apart, in a line.
  2. Have everyone guess which one they think will create the tallest spray.
  3. Remove all of the lids from the bottles.
  4. Have someone volunteer to be the photographer, and have them standing at the ready to take consecutive pictures of the bottles as soon as step 5 is complete.
  5. Very quickly, add 5 Mentos to each bottle and stand back.
  6. Look at the pictures and see who was right!

Visit Wikipedia for a good explanation of why this works.

A few more science experiements for kids...

We asked our friends at the London Science Museum to give us a few of their favourite suggestions for all ages!

If your kids like the hands on approach to science, there are more than 70 Science Centres around the UK that you can visit.

 
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