Kids this age will probably enjoy a whole range of different science kits. It’s good to look for something which will help with what they are learning about at school. Pre-teens are becoming more and more independent, so it might be worth looking for an experiment kit which is simple enough for them to do alone, but still hard enough to keep them entertained and learning.
Let’s be honest, we’re all secretly waiting for the hovercraft to be a bonafide mode of transport, but in the meantime why not try this Balloon Hovercraft experiment at home? Using just a balloon, a bottle cap and a CD, you’ll be able to create a hovercraft that glides across the table to move, and with just 3 easy steps to follow, it’s perfect for a quick at-home activity.
The products listed here may contain small parts that are choking hazards for children! Toys can pose a hazard to babies and young children – they can choke, suffocate, or otherwise harm the child. Young children explore their world by putting things in their mouths, but children under three years of age do not have a well-developed coughing reflex and will choke easily on small items. All children, regardless of age, need close supervision with any toys to help prevent accidents from happening. Adult supervision is required at all times!
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.)

Making a borax snowflake is a crystal-growing project that is safe and easy enough for kids. You can make shapes other than snowflakes, and you can color the crystals. As a side note, if you use these as Christmas decorations and store them, the borax is a natural insecticide and will help keep your long-term storage area pest-free. If they develop a white precipitant, you can lightly rinse them (don't dissolve too much crystal). Did I mention the snowflakes sparkle really nicely?
London Science Museum | ThinkTank - Birmingham Science Museum | Aberdeen Science Centre | Glasgow Science Centre | Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester | Life Science Centre (Centre for Life), Newcastle | National Science and Media Museum, Manchester | Techniquest, Cardiff | Museum of Victorian Science, Whitby | Whipple Museum of the History of Science, Cambridge | Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Lightning is essentially electrons moving uber fast between the sky and the earth—and with a few simple materials, you can use homemade static electricity (the reason behind your hair sticking up when you rub a balloon or go through a tunnel slide super fast) for DIY lightning. Figure how to recreate a family-friendly version of this spark by visiting activity blog Learn Play Imagine.
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.)
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