If you have a young Einstein on your hands who's eager to explore scientific theories, these science experiments for kids are designed to keep curious future Curies happy, engaged, and learning (while keeping messes and required materials to a minimum). From making raisins dance to bending water, the following mind-blowing experiments will excite and delight kids of all ages.
Food-Based Science Experiments for Kids
If you really want to get the kids involved in science at home, then pair learning with food! These simple experiments offer interesting ways to explore various themes in science, and the best part is, everyone is left with a snack at the end of the activity.
Growing Rock Candy
Growing rock candy is a fun and simple science experiment that pays off if kids are patient enough to allow the crystals to grow and set. All you need to explore crystallization and supersaturation processes at home is water, sugar, skewers, a glass jar, a large saucepan, a few clothespins, and about a week's time. After an initial setup, kids can check each day to see if their crystals have started forming. When the rock candy is set (it takes about a week to fully develop the skewers of sugar crystals), they can celebrate their success by eating the sugar candy.
Make Glow-in-the-Dark Jello
What is more fun than making jello? Making glow-in-the-dark jello! This experiment with food takes some patience, as the jello needs time to set up, so it might be better suited for older children. (It also requires heating a carbonated substance over a stove, so even with older children, adult supervision is suggested). As far as the ingredient list goes, the items needed for this experiment are easily found in most homes. The one thing necessary for this experiment that families might have to go to a store to purchase is a fluorescent light. Save the finished product for an evening snack, since this is best when eaten in the dark!
Create Chemical Reactions in Lemonade
Create a chemical reaction out of baking soda and lemon juice. The base and acid combination will produce a fizzy lemon mixture, and if you add some sweetener to it, then you will end up with a cold drink to enjoy after the science experiment. Creating carbonation is a simple experiment that kids of all ages can perform. The ingredient list and the instructions are pretty basic, making this a go-to activity for families looking to get their science on.
Make a Solar S'more Oven
Kids will be surprised (and pretty pumped) to learn that they do not need an open flame to make their favorite camping snack. Together, create a solar s'mores oven. You'll need basic craft supplies, s'mores ingredients, and sunshine to try this experiment out. Kids can get creative designing their ovens and learn key lessons regarding heat absorption. The payoff to the experiment working is a delicious snack at the end.
Observe Apples Under Oxidization
When an apple is sliced, it begins to brown, thanks to the process of oxidization. Encourage kids to take apple slices and coat them with various liquids (including lemon juice). Do any of the liquids slow the oxidization process?
Make Edible Glass
This experiment helps children understand the process of making glass (but instead of heating and cooling sand at high temperatures, you are heating and cooling sugar at manageable temperatures). Sugar glass won't be suitable for building materials, but it will make a fun treat to nibble on, and the process for edible glass simulates the actual process of how sand is turned into glass.
Heat sugar until it melts (an adult is likely the best person to man the heating aspect of the experiment). Cool it to form a glass-like appearance. Peel it from the baking paper and break off a piece!
Make Plastic With Milk
It might seem like an impossible task, but kids can turn everyday milk into a plastic-like substance using only a few key ingredients like milk, white vinegar, and a few standard items likely sitting around your kitchen. When vinegar is mixed with hot milk, curds will form. Liquid can be extracted from the curds, leaving kids with a material that resembles a casein polymer. This substance can then be kneaded and molded into a shape to set out and dry.
Note: While this experiment does use food-based ingredients, you won't want to gobble it up at the end of the activity.
Whip Up Ice Cream
Making ice cream is a great way to introduce or further explore chemical reactions and compounds. Chemistry can be so fun when you get to eat the results with a spoon.
Science Experiments With Plants
Use various plants and items found in nature to help kids understand certain scientific concepts occurring in the world. These activities are simple, entertaining, and easy enough for families to do at home with kids ranging in age from young to old.
Flavored Salad Leaves
Can you change the taste of your salad leaves? Immerse the stems of salad leaves into a salt solution and a sugar solution and see. Set up a bowl of sugar water and a bowl of salt water. Place the stem of each salad leaf in the solutions and set aside for five to six hours. Taste the leaves. Do they taste salty or sweet? If you notice a differing taste to the leaves, then osmosis might be at work here.
Create Color Changing Flowers
Another fun plant-based experiment that highlights the process of osmosis is done with colored watered solutions and white carnations. Set up several glasses of water, each tinted with food coloring. Place the stem of a white carnation into each glass and observe over the next several days. Are your flowers taking on the tinted color of the water?
Discover: Do Seeds Need Light?
School-aged children likely know that plants need sunlight to grow, but how much sunlight is required, and do plants grow at different rates when the sunlight variable is altered? Plant seeds in cups of dirt (be sure to use the same seed type in each cup). Set each seed up in a place that receives different quantities of sunlight. Put one up on a window sill, another in a dark closet, one more under artificial light, and a fourth in a dimly lit space in your home. Be sure to water the plants each day with the same amount of water so that the only variable that gets altered is the light the plant receives.
Have kids make predictions about what they think will happen. They might be surprised at what grows and what does not.
Inspect a Pine Cone in Water
Seeds, flowers, and stems are fun to experiment with, but try this pine cone experiment for something a little different. This activity looks to answer the question, why do pine cones open and close? Head outside and find a pine cone or two. Once back inside, sink a pine cone in warm water and another in cold water. What do you observe?
The pine cone in cold water likely closed up quickly. This is because the scales move in response to humidity. If you dry the cones off in open air, they will probably open right back up.
Kids often think that growing plants starts with dirt, water, and a seed, but see what happens when they take a crack at regrowing plants from leftovers. Try this experiment with several "leftovers" from common vegetables like green onions, carrots, romaine lettuce, celery, onions, garlic, or potatoes. Following simple growing instructions, see if kids can regrow the plants using the leftovers of veggies used in meals.
Bringing Dead Leaves Back to Life
Have kids head outside to collect dried-up leaves. Explore the texture of the leaves. Can kids crumble them in their hands? What do they feel like? Ask the question: can we reverse what we see?
Place a dried leaf in a dish of water so the leaf is totally immersed in the liquid. Remove it after several hours. Does it feel the same as the dried, crumbling leaf? Does it appear that the leaf has had new life breathed back into it? Kids will think it's pretty cool to explore the transformative power of water.
Science Experiments for Young Children
Little kids don't have to fully understand the scientific concepts at work to explore and enjoy science. These activities are simple enough for young children to do, and parents can begin introducing some scientific phenomenon to kids as they play and create through the experiments listed.
Look at How Static Electricity Works With Butterflies
Start with craft time and make a tissue paper butterfly and attach it to cardboard (except for the wings). Blow up a balloon and rub the balloon on your child's hair (they will probably find this hysterical, especially if they look in the mirror afterward)! Now hover the balloon over the butterfly's wings. Does the butterfly begin to move and take flight? The wings should lift off of the cardboard, highlighting the principles of static electricity.
Write With Invisible Ink
Young kids are just beginning to learn how to write, spell and master their fine motor skills. Work some science into their daily writing session by adding in an invisible ink activity. You will need half a lemon and a few household items that you likely already have in the home to create writing magic. Have kids write messages in their secret ink solution, and then read them once the messages are put to a heat source (like a lamp).
Have Fun With Frozen Bubbles
Take your child's love of bubbles to a new level by performing an experiment called frozen bubbles. All you need to witness the magic of frozen bubbles is bubble solution and wands and an outside temperature that is really, really cold (think below ten degrees cold).
Do Objects Sink or Float?
Little kids love spending an afternoon playing in the water, and you can work some science into this sensory play easily with the sink or float activity. Kids gather up objects that can be immersed in water without getting destroyed. They then simply predict if they will sink or if they will float. Extend the activity by asking children why they think something might sink or float. Next, drop objects into the water and observe. Which float and which sink? Do the ones that float have a property in common?
Try this dancing raisins experiment at home with your little kids. All you need is club soda and raisins. Fill a glass with club soda and have kids drop the raisins into the glass. The raisins will begin to move after a few minutes. What makes these raisins do a jig? Well, it is the carbon dioxide bubbles that attach themselves to the raisins that act as floaties for the food. The gas helps the raisins float around and appear as if they are dancing about.
Oceans in a Bottle
Oceans in a bottle is another science activity that explores the density in liquids, but this one is simple enough for very young children to explore. You will need cooking oil, water, and a few other simple ingredients to do this activity. The oil and the water will not mix together, and kids can observe the relationship of the different liquids in the same bottle.
See What Sticky Ice Is
This science activity is perfect for young children and busy parents. The sticky ice experiment is safe and requires only ice and warm and cold water. First, the child places their hand in the bowl with ice water. They then reach into the bowl with ice. The ice will stick to their hands. Next, have them immerse their hands in a bowl of warm water. Again, have them reach for the ice. Does the ice stick to them as it did before? It likely does not. Is it magic? Nope. It's science!
Make a Speed Boat Fueled by Baking Soda and Vinegar
This experiment combines art and science to create a fun activity that will keep kids busy creating and learning. First, they design their boat using Sharpie markers and a clean and empty soda bottle. Next, they explore chemical reactions by fueling the boat with baking soda and vinegar. Watch those speed boats take off!
Discover How Color Affects Melting Rates
Kids learn their colors early on, and you can extend learning with colors by applying color to scientific principles, such as heat and melting. Different colors will conduct heat at varying rates, with black leading the pack as the color that melts ice fastest. Have kids put construction paper on the sidewalk on a warm day. Place an ice cube on each piece of paper. Observe which ice cube melts the quickest. Which color of paper was it on?
Make a Sundial
Make a Magic Bag
Is it magic? Is it science? Either way, it is really fun! Fill a plastic baggie with water. Carefully insert pencils through the bag so that the pencil penetrates the bag and goes through the other end. Do this with several pencils. What do the kids observe? No water should leak out of the baggie, and kids should have saucer-sized eyeballs as they watch this activity take place.
Make a Rainbow Jar
Make a rainbow in a jar using different liquids with varying densities. Each liquid needs to be colored differently to see the layers of the rainbow in the jar. Discuss with little kids that some liquids you used were heavier than others, and heavy stuff falls or sinks.
Teach Kids About Animal Blubber
Young children begin learning about animal adaptations, and you can help them understand the phenomenon of animal blubber with an experiment using shortening and ice. Discuss what blubber is, what it does, and which animals have it as part of their bodies.
To model and explore how blubber keeps animals warm, have kids dip their fingers in the water containing ice cubes. It won't be long before they must extract their freezing cold fingers. Next, have them coat one finger in shortening. They again place their hand in the freezing water and will surely notice that the coated finger stays warmer in the ice water.
Construct a Water Xylophone
Young kids may not fully understand the concept of sound and sound waves, but they will have a blast experimenting with sounds using mason jars and water. Fill jars with water, but be sure that each jar contains a different quantity of liquid. Line the jars up and tap the sides. They make different sounds. Why is that?
Science Experiments Teenagers Will Love
Older kids are often found in their rooms, staring at their phones. Lure them out of their caves and get them into some science fun with these interesting experiments that are so cool even the teens will try them.
Create Silver Eggs
Because this experiment requires teens to hold an egg over a flame, covering the egg with soot, it is suitable for teens, but even so, there should be adult supervision. Once the egg is covered in soot, place it in water. The egg will appear to have a silvery coating like mercury on it.
Make a pH Indicator
By using red cabbage, teens can explore the pH levels of various solutions. The experiment requires teens to make a solution out of boiled cabbage. The solution will be a pH 7. Divide the liquid into several jars of water. Add baking soda to one jar, lemon juice to another, and washing powder to a third. The color of each jar will change depending on the solution. If the solution in a jar is red, the pH level is 2. If it is purple, the solution is a pH 4. If it is blue-green, it is a pH 10.
Learn to Bend Water
Teens can learn to bend water using only cold water, their hair, and a comb. By employing static electricity, older kids can explore how water is attracted to the materials (the comb) that are charged up.
Does your teen need something to occupy quite a bit of their time? Have them try their hand at making a metal ball. With only four items, teens can create metal out of tin foil. If they take their time, the result is pretty cool.
Explore Expanding Soap
Who knew microwaving soap would result in something so cool? Teens should get permission before they pop bars of ivory soap in their parents' microwave, but if they get the green light, the activity is pretty neat to behold. The air pockets in the soap and the heat turn a bar of soap into something that looks like it fell from outer space!
Try Walking on Eggshells
No way! Teens will definitely be up to the challenge of attempting to walk across raw eggs. Can they walk across a carton or two of eggs without getting covered in yoke? Probably! Have them see for themselves and discuss why this is possible. Hint: it has to do with even weight distribution and the domed shape of the egg.
Make Magnetic Slime
Slime is a fun activity for kids of all ages, but older children might especially enjoy playing around with magnetic slime. You'll need a few key ingredients to make magnetic slime, including iron oxide powder, but once the slime is created, kids can explore magnetic properties till their heart's content.
Science Is Everywhere
The wonderful thing about science is, it's all around us. These simple science experiments highlight just how easy it is to explore various scientific theories right from the comfort of home. Children young and old can have fun with experiments of all sorts. With a list like this, parents will never have to hear the grumbles, "I'm bored," again!