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Fun Science Projects

By Bonnie Owens on April 8th, 2009

Science projects are not only a great way to teach your kids, they are also a great way to bond with them.  Many dads (and moms) get as much of a kick out of watching natural element interact as their kids do.  Here are a few experiments that will entertain and amaze the whole family.

Salt Monster

  1. Have an adult bring 1 cup water to a boil in a saucepan and remove from heat.  Add 1/2 cup epsom salt and stir until it dissolves, you can also add food coloring for fun. 
  2. Keep adding epsom salt until it no longer dissolves when stirred (1/4 to 1/2 cup more).  Let the mixture cool, then pour it into a glass jar.  
  3. Tie one end of a piece of cotton string around a pencil, and the other end to a washer; string should be long enough so washer hangs at least one inch above the bottom of jar.
  4. Set the pencil across the rim of the  jar with the washer dangling inside.  Over the next few days, break away any crust that forms at the top of the jar, and watch as the “salt monster” emerges.

Why It Works
As the water evaporates, the salt flakes will form large crystals that will cling together.  To keep your salt formation on display, pull up the crystal-covered string, and hang it in a clean, clear jar.
salt-crystals-1

Ocean in a Bottle

  1. Use a clean, clear, dry bottle with flat sides.   Fill  the jar 1/3 of the way with white vinegar, and add several drops of blue food coloring.
  2. Fill the rest of the bottle with a light-colored cooking oil like canola.
  3. Screw the cap on tightly; then rock the bottle back and forth to watch the waves.

Why It Works
Oil is lighter than vinegar, so oil droplets float to the surface and stay there. The two will never mix, even when you tilt the bottle.
ocean-in-bottle-1

Fireworks In a Jar

  1. Fill a clear jar with water, leaving a little room for 1 tablespoon of oil.
  2. In a separate cup, combine 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and a few drops each of red, blue, and yellow liquid food coloring and mix them together with a fork.
  3. Pour the colored oil into the jar of water, and watch as streamers of color descend.

Why It Works
The food coloring is water-soluble: it cannot dissolve in oil, only in water. When you first pour the mixture into the jar, the food coloring is trapped in the oil.  Eventually it sinks, makes contact with the water, and dissolves.
fireworks-jar-1

Cornstarch Quicksand

  1. In a bowl, combine 1 cup cornstarch with 1/2 cup water, and stir with your fingers until mixture forms a thick paste.  If the mixture is too crumbly, add 1 tablespoon water (wash hands afterward).
  2. Punch the surface: Your fist will barely make a dent. Now slowly dip your hand into the paste.  You can pick it up, and it will ooze through your fingers. Squeeze it, turn it over and over in your hands, and watch how it goes from goopy liquid to dry powder and back to glop.

Why It Works
This mixture is called a “hydrosol”, a solid scattered throughout a liquid. Applying pressure to it, as you do when you punch it, traps tiny drops of water between tiny bits of starch, making the surface feel solid. When the pressure lets up, the mixture becomes watery again.
quicksand-1

Hands-Free Inflation

  1.  Pour 4 tablespoons of vinegar into a clean bottle. 
  2. Use a funnel to fill a small balloon with 1 tablespoon of baking soda.
  3. Be sure that the bulb of the balloon falls to one side as you carefully slip its mouth over the neck of the bottle.Then lift the bulb to let the baking soda fall into the bottle. The balloon will inflate all by itself!

Why It Works
When baking soda and vinegar come into contact, they form carbon dioxide. This gas fills the bottle and can’t escape, so it rushes into the balloon, causing it to inflate.
gas-ballon-1

  • Karen

    Great ideas! I used to do this kind of stuff all the time when I was kid. I even wanted to grow up and be a scientist – an ambition that later died in 10th grade Chemistry.

  • amani

    i luv these ideas there so good and eassyy to dooo……………

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