1. Create a geyser using Mentos candy, diet soda, tape, and construction paper.
These thorough instructions require adult supervision if young children are around. Essentially, you and your kids are going to quickly drop Mentos into a bottle of soda. A chemical reaction will occur, which causes the soda to shoot up with incredible force!
2. Tell the temperature by counting cricket chirps in a 14-second period, then adding 40 to that number.
It’s true! Since crickets are cold-blooded insects, their reaction time increases when it’s warm out and slows down when it’s cold — thus the difference in chirps. This is an easy, accurate, and fun way to teach kids how to figure out the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Create art by filling a Ziploc bag with vinegar and crushed chalk to make an exploding paint bag.
Go outside and place a poster board under a bag filled with about 1/3 cup of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of crushed chalk or powdered tempera paint. Quickly seal the bag, set it down, and watch it expand right before your eyes until it pops!
4. Make magnetic slime by mixing glue, borax, and iron filings.
5. Make a bottle “disappear” by putting it inside a clear glass container and filling both with glycerin.
6. Bake snacks in a solar oven by gluing a piece of foil to construction paper and turning it into a cone.
This step-by-step guide suggests putting simple foods like cut-up apples into a pot and covering with the cone. Place it in the sun and wait a few hours for the food to cook. Kids learn how the sun heats and cooks food and how to cook without electricity.
7. Have young kids practice “cooking” by making goop and flower cupcakes.
Have your child gather fistfuls of grass and dandelion flowers and mix all the ingredients listed here together. They’ll see their “cake” mix is an interesting concoction of solid and liquid. This activity is good for outside, sensory, and messy play.
8. Purify water with a condensation experiment.
With this experiment, you’ll need to pollute a large bowl of water set in the sun by adding some spices, salt, and food coloring. Place an empty drinking glass in the center, making sure water doesn’t overflow into it. Cover the entire bowl with plastic wrap, and place a pebble in the center. Condensation will eventually form on the underside of the plastic wrap, and gravity will pull the droplets down toward the center (where the pebble sits). When that happens, “rain” will start dripping into the glass. You just purified water!
9. Make sand waterproof with Scotchgard.
Spend time outdoors making this project. Gather sand and put it on a baking sheet. Then, liberally spray Scotchgard onto the sand until it’s completely covered. Pour the sand into a clear container of water and impress the whole family with the formations you make.
10. Construct a rocket by placing an Alka-Seltzer tablet inside a film canister. Add some water and give it a shake.
The carbon dioxide buildup from the Alka-Seltzer tablet inside the canister increases the air pressure so much that when the canister can’t take any more, it’s lid will pop off and shoot up into the air. This activity is for kids of all ages, but adult supervision is recommended for young children. For actual visuals on how this works, watch the YouTube video on this page.
11. Create a rainbow in a jar by stacking common household liquids.
You’ll need a glass container, honey, light corn syrup, dish soap, olive oil, rubbing alcohol, water, and food coloring. This project teaches kids 2 years and up about density.
12. Build a sundial by placing a pencil in a ball of clay. Every hour, mark the time with a stone.
Doing this will teach young kids about the rotation of the sun and how to tell time.
13. Discover molecules by sealing a Ziploc bag full of water and pushing sharp pencils through both sides.
Zip bags are made of polymer; the chain of molecules that makes up polymer prevents water from coming out when you poke a sharp object, like a pencil, through the bag. Try using many pencils!
14. Learn about quicksand with cornstarch and water.
Mix a cup of cornstarch to a half a cup of water. This medley of ingredients teaches kids how some materials act like a solid, while other times, they can be liquid. It can get messy, so we recommend taking it outside.
15. Measure the height of a tree by looking at its top while bent over at a 45-degree angle.
Bend over near a tree. If you can’t see the top, move until you can. When you can see the top, you’re as far away from the tree as its height. While this method is only an estimate, it uses trigonometry and gives younger kids a fun kick-start to a subject most people don’t learn until they’re in high school.
16. Create art by freezing bowls of water overnight, then melting the ice with salt and food coloring.
Have food coloring handy to drop over the ice so you can highlight the ravines, crevasses, and tunnels that form as the salt melts the ice away. This is an easy and visual science experiment for the kid in all of us.
17. Cause an egg’s hard shell to disappear by placing it in a cup of white vinegar for a few days.
This process teaches kids as young as 4 about osmosis and the science of molecules passing through a seemingly solid membrane. If you’re holding the egg’s rubbery membrane afterwards, just be careful—you don’t want it to burst into a runny mess!
18. Form giant bubbles with glycerin and a few kitchen staples.
This concoction calls for six cups of water, 1/2 cup of Dawn, 1/2 cup of cornstarch, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, and 1 tablespoon of glycerin. Blowing bubbles is fun for everyone and teaches kids about concepts like elasticity, chemistry, light, and even geometry.
19. Form rain clouds by filling a glass with water, then adding shaving cream and a few drops of food coloring.
Do this project to show young kids how rain clouds and precipitation work. Best of all, it’s not too messy.
20. Inflate a balloon by filling it with Pop Rocks and attaching it to a bottle of soda.
This fun and simple experiment teaches kids about chemical reactions and gasses. Adult supervision is required.
21. Build a worm hotel with dirt and sand to learn how worms mix soil.
If you didn’t appreciate worms before, you’ll appreciate them after this experiment. Learn the value of worms, which help create the dark brown soil packed full of the nutrients needed for plant growth. See how this mom built her kids a worm observation hotel.
22. Construct an outdoor, erupting volcano by burying a water bottle filled with baking soda and adding vinegar.
This is a classic experiment in seeing how baking soda and vinegar together create carbon dioxide.
23. Discover osmosis by placing celery in colored water overnight to see the stems and leaves change color.
Transpiration is the process of water movement in a plant. Even though this experiment is designed for preschool and elementary-aged kids, you’ll be amazed to see transpiration in the works!
24. Form a tornado by adding water, dish soap, and glitter to a jar and giving it a little shake.
Have a tight lid ready to go, and wow the kids using these instructions.