Science is mind-blowing, and at-home science experiments are an amazing way to introduce your kids to the magical wonders of our world.

Even if you don’t have a scientific bone in your body, you can wow your kiddos with the following beginner-friendly experiments. The best part? All of them can be conducted at home, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen!

Grab your safety goggles, choose a few of our tried-and-true experiments, and prepare to move up a few notches on the cool parent Richter scale.

1. Create Your Own Lava Lamp

Homemade lava lamps are surprisingly easy to create, and they make a great gift for kids of all ages.

Gather these ingredients:

  • A large glass jar or clear soda bottle
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Food colouring
  • A flashlight (optional)

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Pour water into the large jar or soda bottle until it is about 2/3 full. Using a liquid measuring cup with a spout makes pouring easier.
  2. Slowly add the vegetable oil into the jar or bottle until the vessel is nearly full. Encourage your kids to watch as the oil and water separate. This process may take a couple of minutes.
  3. Let your child choose his favourite food colouring, and add about 10 drops to the jar. Watch as the food colouring droplets make their way to the bottom of the jar or bottle.
  4. Add a teaspoon of salt. The grains will pull the oil to the bottom of the vessel.
  5. Shine a flashlight through the bottom of the jar or bottle to amplify the magic!

Variation:

Try using half of a seltzer tablet instead of salt for a fizzier effect. When the ingredients begin to settle, simply add the other half of the tablet.

How it works:

While science experiments are incredible even with no explanation, learning how and why these experiments work is equally mind-boggling.

For this particular experience, oil floats above the water because it’s lighter than the water. Salt pulls the oil to the bottom of the mixture, and once it dissolves, the oil rises to the top of the jar or bottle once again. We add food colouring because it makes the experiment incredibly fun to watch. Shining a flashlight through the jar or bottle adds to the visual appeal.

2. Make Hot Ice

Sure, it may be an oxymoron, but hot ice is actually a thing, and it’s truly amazing to watch.

Gather these ingredients:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • A medium pot
  • A glass measuring cup or heat-safe jar (We prefer a measuring cup with a spout.)
  • A glass pie pan or a similar dish
  • A tablespoon

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Measure out 4 cups of vinegar, and pour it into the pot.
  2. Slowly add 4 tablespoons of baking soda.
  3. Stir the mixture until the baking soda is completely dissolved and no longer fizzy.
  4. Boil the mixture on medium-low heat for approximately an hour, or until the mixture has reduced by 75-percent or so.
  5. Remove the mixture from the stove and pour it into a glass measuring cup or heat-safe jar. There should be about ¾ cup to 1 cup in the vessel.
  6. There will be excess powder on the sides of the pot. Save some of this powder for later.
  7. Place the measuring cup or jar in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes, or until cool.
  8. With a spoon, take some of the powder you saved from the pot, and place it in the glass pie pan.
  9. Carefully remove the measuring cup or jar from the refrigerator and slowly pour the mixture over the powder in the pie pan. Crystals should begin to form.
  10. Continue pouring the mixture to form a “tower.” If you touch the mixture, it’s hard just like ice, but it’s surprisingly warm to the touch.
  11. It can be fun to crumble the hot ice, but be sure to handle with care.
  12. The mixture is reusable, so you can melt it again and again to your heart’s content. This experiment never gets old!

Variation:

Try adding food colouring to create hot ice in your favourite colour(s).

How it works:

The scientific name for dry ice is sodium acetate trihydrate. The vinegar/baking soda mixture you created is below its melting point, resulting in a “supercooled” liquid. The ice you created feels hot because the mixture releases heat when it crystalizes.

3. Create a Rainbow

Whether you’re a kid or an adult, there’s nothing quite like seeing a rainbow form in the sky. With these simple steps, you can create your very own rainbow at home. Unlike the Hot Ice experiment above, this experiment requires no wait time. You can create a rainbow on demand!

Gather these ingredients:

  • A shallow pan
  • A mirror
  • A flashlight
  • White paper

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Pour water into the pan, filling it about halfway full.
  2. Submerge the mirror in the water, placing it at an angle.
  3. Turn on the flashlight and shine it into the water/mirror.
  4. Hold a sheet of white paper above the mirror. You should see a rainbow appear on the paper.
  5. If a rainbow doesn’t appear, move the mirror and/or paper until you see a rainbow.

Variation:

If it’s a sunny day, try taking this experiment outside. Instead of using a flashlight, use the sunlight to create your own rainbow.

How it works:

You’ve probably seen a real-life rainbow in the sky, and this experiment uses the same exact scientific processes: reflection and refraction. Put simply, refraction occurs when light passes through an object, causing the light to “bend.” In this case, the light bends when you shine light into the water. Although the light coming from the flashlight (or sun) may look white, it’s actually a rainbow of colours. When the light bends, we are treated to a beautiful array of colours. Every individual colour you see bends at a unique angle, as each shade travels at its own speed through glass or water.

The coolest part? You are able to create a rainbow by reflecting light out of the water using the mirror. Instead of seeing white light, the components (colours) of the rainbow appear through refraction.

When you see a rainbow in the sky, drops of water are refracting the sunlight. Isn’t nature incredible?

4. Make a Volcano

It’s amazing how you can use the same ingredients to create completely different experiments. To make a volcano, we’ll be using vinegar and baking soda once again with different results. We like to do this experiment outside.

Gather these ingredients:

  • A cookie sheet or tray
  • A plastic cup
  • Baking soda (You’ll need about 4 to 6 tablespoons.)
  • Dish soap (A teaspoon will do.)
  • Washable paint (We use about 2 ounces. We prefer washable paint over food colouring, as it’s easier to clean and doesn’t stain.)
  • Vinegar (You’ll need one cup for each eruption.)
  • Clay, sand, or gravel to form a mound

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Fill the cup with water until it is approximately 2/3 full.
  2. Carefully add the baking soda, dish soap, and washable paint.
  3. Form your volcano around the cup by using clay, sand, or gravel.
  4. Stir the ingredients in the cup to ensure they’re well combined.
  5. Pour in the vinegar into the cup, and watch the “lava” start flowing.
  6. Repeat step 5! You can pour more vinegar into the cup several times before you’ll need more baking soda.

How it works:

Baking soda combined with vinegar causes a chemical reaction. CO2 bubbles drive the mixture upwards, resulting in a volcano-like eruption.

5. Create a Jumping Coin

Don’t let the simplicity of this experiment fool you. It’s one of our absolute favourites, it only requires three ingredients, and it’s not time intensive. Altogether, this experiment takes approximately 15 minutes.

Gather these ingredients:

  • An empty glass soda bottle with its cap removed
  • A coin (Make sure it’s bigger than the bottle’s opening.)
  • Water

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Freeze the glass bottle for a few minutes.
  2. Dip the coin in water.
  3. Take the glass bottle out of the freezer, and set the coin on top of the bottle so the mouth is completely covered.
  4. Watch as the coin starts jumping on top of the bottle.

Variation:

You can place the bottle upside down in icy water to reap the same results. Avoid filling the bottle with water, but be sure to submerge the bottle’s neck and opening. You can also submerge the coin in the icy water to create a seal when you lay the coin on top of the bottle. Try wrapping your hands around the bottle, then releasing the bottle.

How it works:

When you remove the bottle from the freezer (or icy water), the air inside the bottle heats up and expands. The air is released through the bottle’s mouth, which makes the coin jump.

6. Walk on Eggshells – Literally!

Believe it or not, you can actually walk on eggs without cracking them! We recommend conducting this experiment in pairs or groups.

Gather these ingredients:

  • Two egg cartons, each with 10 eggs
  • A garbage bag
  • A thin board (optional)

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Spread out the garbage bag, and place it on the floor.
  2. Place the egg cartons side by side on the garbage bag.
  3. Open the cartons and make sure there are no cracked eggs. Replace any cracked or broken eggs.
  4. Arrange the eggs so they are all facing the same way. (We typically make sure the pointier side is facing down and the rounded side is facing up.)
  5. Remove your shoes and socks, and place one foot on top of one of the opened cartons. (The key is distributing your weight evenly across the eggs.)
  6. Holding onto a chair, a counter, or a friend, place your other foot on the second carton, being careful to evenly distribute your weight.

Variation:

This experiment may take some trial and error. If you’re concerned about breaking the eggs, try placing a thin board on top of the eggs in their cartons. That way, even if some of the eggs break, your feet are protected.

How it works:

Eggshells are much tougher than we give them credit for, which is evidenced by proud bird parents incubating their babies’ eggs. As mentioned above, the trick is even weight distribution.

7. Make an Egg Float

It’s hard to believe that one household ingredient can make an egg go from sinking to floating, but it can!

Gather these ingredients:

  • A clear drinking glass or bowl
  • An uncooked egg
  • Water
  • Table salt (You’ll need approximately 5 tablespoons.)

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Pour water into the clear drinking glass or bowl until it is about 2/3 full.
  2. Carefully place the egg in the drinking glass or bowl, and watch it sink.
  3. Remove the egg from the drinking glass or bowl, and set it aside.
  4. Stir salt into the water-filled glass or bowl, and place the egg back into the vessel.
  5. If the egg doesn’t begin to float, add more salt until it floats to the top.

Variation:

After completing this experiment with an egg, try using different objects to see if they sink or float. This is a great way to teach kids about density. You’ll need to adjust the amount of salt you add depending on the density of each object.

How it works:

The egg is more dense than the water, which causes the egg to sink. When salt is added to the water, the water becomes more dense, causing the egg to float.

8. Watch an Egg Stand Up on Its Own

Who knew eggs could be so spectacular? You’ll only need two items from your kitchen to complete this egg-cellent experiment.

Gather these ingredients:

  • An uncooked egg
  • Salt

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Pour a tablespoon of salt onto a counter, table, or any flat, smooth surface.
  2. Lick the rounded end of the egg (or dab it with water), and place the egg on top of the salt, pointy side up.
  3. Blow away the excess salt, and watch as the egg stands upright.

How it works:

The salt holds the egg in place, forming an invisible base.

9. Make Multi-Coloured Milk

You can conduct this experiment in a matter of minutes, but chances are, you’ll be admiring the results for hours!

Gather these ingredients:

  • Whole milk (Low-fat and fat-free varieties won’t work for this experiment.)
  • Food colouring
  • Liquid detergent
  • Cotton swabs
  • A paper or Styrofoam plate

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. To make pouring easy for little ones, pour some of the whole milk into a liquid measuring cup or any lightweight container with a spout.
  2. Pour a small amount of milk onto the plate.
  3. Add 3 to 5 drops of food colouring.
  4. Dip one end of the cotton swab into the liquid detergent.
  5. Place the covered end of the cotton swab on the plate near the centre.
  6. Watch closely as the milk swirls and makes beautiful colours.

How it works:

The fat in the whole milk combined with the detergent causes a chemical reaction, prompting the milk to swirl.

10. Create a Lemon Volcano

We never get tired of watching volcanoes erupt! This is another fun way to create a volcanic eruption using inexpensive ingredients from your kitchen.

Gather these ingredients:

  • Two lemons for each volcano
  • A knife
  • A tray
  • Baking soda
  • Food colouring
  • A popsicle stick
  • Dish soap
  • A cup or glass
  • A tablespoon

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Cut off the bottom of one lemon to ensure it can sit flat, and remove the lemon’s core. (It’s best for an adult or older child to complete this step.)
  2. Cut the second lemon in half and squeeze the juice from both halves into a cup or glass.
  3. Lay the cored lemon on a tray.
  4. Using the popsicle stick, mash the centre of the lemon. (Do not remove the juice from the lemon.)
  5. Add a few drops of food colouring directly into the lemon.
  6. Add a tablespoon or so of dish soap into the lemon for extra frothy bubbles.
  7. Add a tablespoon of baking soda into the lemon, and stir the mixture. (At this point, it should start to bubble.)
  8. To keep your volcano bubbling, continue adding more baking soda, food colouring, and dish soap. You can also add more of the lemon juice you set aside in step 2.
  9. To amp up the eruption, squeeze the lemon.

Variation:

If you don’t have lemons on hand, or you’d just like to try a fun variation of this experiment, powdered drink mixes containing citric acid, like Kool Aid, work just as well. Mix the drink powder and baking soda together before adding water, and watch the magic!

How it works:

When combined with baking soda, the citric acid in lemons forms carbon dioxide (CO2) and sodium citrate. This reaction results in an “eruption.”

11. Create an Inverted Balloon in a Bottle

Like many of the experiments we’ve included on our list, this experiment is surprisingly quick, easy, and incredible to watch!

Gather these ingredients:

  • A glass bottle (Choose a bottle with a narrow neck.)
  • A tablespoon
  • Water
  • A standard rubber or latex balloon
  • Oven mitts

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Pour approximately one tablespoon of water into the glass bottle.
  2. Place the bottle in the microwave for one minute, or until the water is boiling. (If your bottle doesn’t fit upright in your microwave, simply place the bottle diagonally in a microwave-safe bowl.)
  3. Remove the bottle from the microwave using oven mitts, as it will be very hot.
  4. Place the bottle on a counter or heat-proof surface.
  5. Carefully stretch the balloon over the mouth of the bottle. (The balloon should be cantered.)
  6. Watch as water droplets form in the bottle. After several seconds, the balloon will be sucked into the bottle and will continue to expand.

How it works:

When you boil water inside the bottle, the water becomes vapour, which drives air out of the bottle. As it begins to cool, the vapour converts back to water, resulting in higher pressure outside of the bottle and lower pressure inside. This difference in pressure causes the outside air to gust into the bottle, while pulling the balloon inside. The balloon continues to expand inside the bottle as more air enters.

12. Make Invisible Ink

This is a fun rainy day experiment that will keep your kiddos entertained for hours!

Gather these ingredients:

  • A lemon
  • A knife
  • A cotton swab
  • White construction paper
  • A hair dryer

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Cut the lemon and squeeze the juice into a small glass or bowl. (This step should be completed by an adult or older child.)
  2. Dip one end of the cotton swab into the juice, and use it to draw a picture or write a message on the white construction paper.
  3. Watch as your picture or message disappears into the paper.
  4. Turn the hair dryer on its lowest setting, and blow air on the paper until you see your picture or message reappear. If it’s difficult to see, hold it up to a light.

Variation:

Try conducting this experiment with different liquids, such as a variety of juices, vinegar, or milk.

How it works:

The hair dryer causes the lemon juice to warm up and release carbon. The combination of air and carbon causes oxidation, making it the perfect duo to create invisible ink.

13. Create Frozen Slime

Sure, slime is fun, but frozen slime is even better! This experiment is fun on a hot summer day.

Gather these ingredients:

  • Borax
  • Glitter glue
  • A glass container
  • Water
  • A teaspoon
  • A separate container (A small bowl works just fine.)

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Pour the glitter glue into the glass container.
  2. Fill the empty glue bottle with water, and pour it into the glass container.
  3. Mix 1 teaspoon of borax and ½ cup of warm water in a separate container. (This step should be completed by an adult. Be sure to mix until the borax is completely dissolved.)
  4. Slowly pour the borax mixture into the glass container with the glue mixture.

Variation:

After making your slime, form it into balls and try bouncing them.

How it works:

This experiment is all about polymers—long strands of connected molecules. The glitter glue contains liquid polymer. The borax fuses the polymer strands together to create frozen slime.

14. Make a Fireproof Balloon

This is one of the easiest experiments on our list, but it can also be dangerous. For that reason, an adult should always conduct this experiment.

Gather these ingredients:

  • A standard rubber or latex balloon
  • Water
  • A lighter

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Fill the balloon with water.
  2. Blow air into the water-filled balloon, and tie it.
  3. Ignite the lighter while holding the balloon from the top. Lower the balloon over the lighter and watch what happens (or doesn’t happen). You can even touch the lighter to the bottom of the balloon. Observers are always stunned when the balloon doesn’t pop!

How it works:

When you hold a flame to an air-filled balloon, it will pop due to the heat weakening the state of the balloon. When you hold a flame to a water-filled balloon, the water absorbs almost all of the heat, so the balloon isn’t exposed to much heat, keeping it intact.

15. Create Flaming Hand Sanitizer

We’d be remiss not to include this fun and fiery experiment on our list, but we urge you to use extreme caution when conducting it. This is one experiment you should demonstrate without letting your kids participate. Don’t worry, your kids shouldn’t be too disappointed, as watching this experiment is even more fun that conducting it!

Note: Conduct this experiment outdoors on concrete, and steer clear of people and objects.

Gather these ingredients:

  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (Look for the flammable variety.)
  • A lighter or match
  • A washcloth (We recommend wetting the washcloth and adding soap before beginning the experiment.)
  • A dry towel
  • A bowl filled with water (optional)

How to conduct the experiment:

  1. Open the hand sanitizer, and apply a small squirt to the pavement.
  2. Use your finger to create a thin, even layer.
  3. Wipe off your finger with the dry towel.
  4. The alcohol in the sanitizer will begin to evaporate the moment it hits the pavement. Use the lighter or match to ignite the liquid.
  5. Watch the sanitizer glow. (You should see a subtle blue flame.)
  6. Take one finger and quickly run it through the flaming sanitizer. Your finger will look as if it’s on fire.
  7. To avoid burns, move your wrist quickly with force to fan the flame.
  8. Don’t blow on the flame, as it may move the sanitizer to other areas of the skin. Snuffing is best. You can even dunk your hand in a bowl of water.

How it works:

The water in alcohol-based hand sanitizer won’t boil until it reaches very high temperatures, so the water works as a barrier, keeping your skin free from burns.

Tips for At-Home Science Experiment Fun

As you can see, the majority of our favourite science experiments use very few ingredients, most of which can be found in your home. After conducting these experiments with our children, we compiled a few helpful tips to make these cool science experiments extra fun:

  1. Gather all of your ingredients in advance. There’s nothing worse that realizing you’re out of baking soda in the midst of creating a volcano.
  2. Conduct more than one experiment. Many of the experiments on our list use the same ingredients. Choose a few experiments, gather the ingredients, and set the day aside for back-to-back science experiments. Have each participant rate each experiment.
  3. Try the variations. After you’ve completed the experiments, try the variations, and note which approach worked better.
  4. Share your scientific knowledge. Invite your children’s friends to help conduct the experiments, or volunteer to share your knowledge and conduct these experiments at a local nursing home. People of all ages love these experiments!
  5. Record your experiments. While these experiments are amazing, many of them last only seconds. Record a video of each experiment to watch with your children later to ensure the memories last forever.
  6. Have fun. Above all else, these experiments are intended for family fun. Enjoy the process, and repeat the experiments as your kids get older. We’ve found that they’re just as awe-inspiring to teens as they are to toddlers.

Happy experimenting!

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