‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ – hasn’t rung truer for many until now! The circuit breaker has busted many a great myth, including the need for fancy kits and complicated ideas to help kids learn. It managed to put us in a unique position to teach kids to do more, with less, in enjoyable ways.
With summer break around the corner, we have compiled a list of 3 easy yet super fun science experiments, that can be carried out with things that won’t send you foraging the supermarket shelves. All you need are a few basic things from around the house, and no, we won’t ask you to sit under an apple tree! So scroll on, and remember, teaching science in a fun way is no rocket science!
Science in Everyday Life Activities
Sink or Float: Teaches Density and Buoyancy
Science in everyday life activities: what objects sink, and what floats? | Image source: Samixa Ghildial
This experiment is especially great given Singapore’s hot weather, as it doubles up as a fun splashy escapade for the kids. They end up learning an important principle of physics while having a whale of a time!
Things you need: A tub full of water and a pile of random things from around the house that won’t get spoiled when dunked in water.
Let the fun and learning begin by asking the little ones to pick out the objects one by one while guessing if they will sink or float once tossed in the water. Let them follow that up with dropping the object in water to find out if their hypothesis is correct. As object after object meets its splashy fate, the little buddies get more and more confident about their guesses.
Science: The experiment helps kids understand through observation, that buoyant objects float, and dense objects sink. Objects float when they are less dense than water and sink when they are denser than water. Explaining the concept while doing this fun experiment really puts things into perspective, so go ahead and let the kids soak it all in!
It’s best to set this experiment up in the balcony/patio, so you are less worried about the water that gets splashed around, and the tinier ones can wrap it up with a wet and wild time. It can also be done indoors of course, in the bathtub or by laying a few towels on the floor. But do watch out – the littler ones might just decide to test their own density out with a big splash!
Tip: To introduce a variation, you can do another round of this experiment using fruit and vegetables only.
Vinegar and Baking Soda Experiment: Reaction Between Acid and Base
Image source: Samixa Ghildial
The world knows that all baking ingredients are suddenly under attack! Never has so much bread been baked, and never has ‘bake your own cake, and eat it too’ been the go-to birthday mantra. In such times of tight baking supplies, if you’re suggested to carry out this baking soda and vinegar experiment with your little fellow ‘lockdownees’, you might jump with fright! But have faith, this experiment manages to enthral with very little sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) from your precious stash!
Things you need: A balloon, an empty plastic bottle, baking soda and vinegar.
Pour vinegar into the empty bottle (about 2 inches deep) and pour about 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda in the deflated balloon. Place the opening of the balloon on the neck of the bottle, while being careful to not let any baking soda fall into the bottle just yet. When you’re ready, hold the balloon straight up to allow the baking soda to fall into the bottle. Lo and behold – you’ll see the balloon getting inflated on its own, without you exercising even an iota of your facial muscles!
Science: This experiment teaches kids about the chemical reaction between an acid (vinegar) and a base (baking soda), that produces the gas called carbon dioxide. Since the gas has no room to escape, it ends up inflating the balloon!
As the balloon inflates, so does the joy in the room! This experiment is pure gold, sure to impress the curious minds, and give them an early introduction to the world of chemistry in a fun way!
- Stretch the deflated balloon out a bit before you begin the experiment to help it inflate easily
- Shake the balloon a little while conducting the experiment to help all the baking soda get into the bottle.
Leak-Proof Bag: Flexibility of Polymers Molecules
Image: Samixa Ghildial
This experiment is very exciting for the kids and adults alike! Easy to carry out and so awe-inspiring, its unexpected results are sure to baffle the little participants (and their adult supervisors!)!
What you need: A zip lock plastic bag, water and a few sharpened pencils.
Fill about 3/4 of the plastic bag with water, sharpen a few pencils to a point, and let the excitement begin! Ask your child (and yourself!) what’s going to happen if the bag of water is poked with a pencil. The answer seems deceptively obvious, which is why it’s not easy for adults to carry this experiment out. The fear of a bag full of water exploding in your face and leaving a big mess to clean is very real!
However, we suggest you muster all your courage and poke a pencil right through the bag (try not to scream while doing it!) and wait for the most unexpected outcome. The bag does not leak! Now ask your kids to do the same, and witness how the bag remains sealed even after being poked through by multiple pencils. If you wish, in your next round (oh there will be several rounds of this, be assured!) you can hold the bag on top of your kid’s head and earn some excited squeals!
Science: This experiment teaches kids about polymers, which are long, flexible chains of molecules. If poked, the molecules spread apart and then seal themselves around the pencil, preventing a leak! In case it wasn’t clear by now, most plastic bags are made of polymers! Fascinating!
This experiment is a showstopper, sure to make those tiny jaws drop in amazement, plus, the reactions given out by the adults are nothing short of gold! An absolute must-try as a fun family activity that ends up teaching some Chemistry along the way.
Tip: Pierce the bag through both sides quickly, else it may leak!
To conclude, science doesn’t belong in the wordy pages of a boring textbook alone. You can apply science in everyday life activities—seen in common objects and activities. So, carry out these fun and easy experiments to let your little scientists experience their Eureka moments sitting right at home (and to wake up the long hibernating mad scientist in you)! No better way to learn, while having fun together as a family!
Samixa Ghidal is a mother of two who is also a corporate lawyer who has practiced both in India and Singapore. She writes about her parenting experiences without sugar-coating them, because she believes parenting is not about just gummy smiles and sloppy kisses, but also leaky diapers and supermarket meltdowns!
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