You won’t want to do this experiment near anything that’s difficult to clean (outside may be best), but kids will love seeing this “elephant toothpaste” crazily overflowing the bottle and oozing everywhere. Pour the hydrogen peroxide, food coloring, and dishwashing soap into the bottle, and in the cup mix the yeast packet with some warm water for about 30 seconds. Then, add the yeast mixture to the bottle, stand back, and watch the solution become a massive foamy mixture that pours out of the bottle! The “toothpaste” is formed when the yeast removed the oxygen bubbles from the hydrogen peroxide which created foam. This is an exothermic reaction, and it creates heat as well as foam (you can have kids notice that the bottle became warm as the reaction occurred).
With just some basic materials you can create your own musical instrument to teach kids about sound waves. In this water xylophone experiment, you’ll fill glass jars with varying levels of water. Once they’re all lined up, kids can hit the sides with wooden sticks and see how the itch differs depending on how much water is in the jar (more water=lower pitch, less water=higher pitch). This is because sound waves travel differently depending on how full the jars are with water.
Refraction is when light changes direction and speed as it passes from one object to another. Only visible objects reflect light. When two materials with similar reflective properties come into contact, light will pass through both materials at the same speed, rendering the other material invisible. Check out this video from BritLab on how to turn glass invisible using vegetable oil and pyrex glass.
When these nails and copper wires collide, heat is generated (psst ... heat is a result of expended energy, so you can explain to your little runner why he feels warmer after a race around the house). But with some potato magic, the properties of the nail and copper stay separated, allowing the heat to become the electric energy needed to power up your devices. Build your own potato battery with this tutorial from PBS Kids.
My First Mind Blowing Science Kit also comes with cool scientific tools like test tubes, pipettes, stirring sticks, and measuring scoops that will make your child feel like a real chemist. Not only will they learn important skills in conducting experiments, they will also learn the basics of acids and bases. While none of the experiments are particularly messy, it’s safer to perform them on a flat surface with adult supervision.
This solar energy science experiment will teach kids about solar energy and how different colors absorb different amounts of energy. In a sunny spot outside, place six colored pieces of paper next to each other, and place an ice cube in the middle of each paper. Then, observe how quickly each of the ice cubes melt. The ice cube on the black piece of paper will melt fastest since black absorbs the most light (all the light ray colors), while the ice cube on the white paper will melt slowest since white absorbs the least light (it instead reflects light). You can then explain why certain colors look the way they do. (Colors besides black and white absorb all light except for the one ray color they reflect; this is the color they appear to us.)