- Tornado in a bottle. If you have an educational supply store nearby, you can pick up a Tornado Tube for a couple of dollars. This is the simplest way to make a tornado; you spin two 2-liter soda bottles, one filled 3/4 of the way with water, onto the tube, give it a swirl, and watch the “tornado” form. If you don’t have a Tornado Tube, try this: Fill one 2-liter bottle about 2/3 of the way with water, and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid, along with a sprinkle of glitter to make the effect more visible. Put the top on the bottle, hold it upside down by the neck and start moving the bottle in a circle. See if you can get it to form a twister.
- Oil and water bottles. If you have empty 1-liter water bottles lying around, you can keep the kids busy for a while by filling them about 2/3 with water (add a few drops of food coloring) and the rest of the way with vegetable oil. Put the top on tightly. The water and oil won’t mix, so it will have a lava-lamp appearance. Encourage your child to shake the bottle; the oil and water will emulsify for a little while, but will eventually separate again.
- Water tension experiments. Water has a “skin” on it that you can’t see, but here are two ways that you can show your kids. For the first, fill a shallow bowl with water. Let it settle for a few seconds, then sprinkle on some black pepper. The pepper will float. Have your child gently place a finger in the middle of the pepper; a few grains will sink and some will stick to his finger, but most will remain floating on the surface of the water. Next, place a drop of dishwashing liquid on your child’s finger and have him gently touch the surface of the water. The pepper will fly to the sides of the bowl; as the soap breaks the surface tension.
- The other water tension experiment is to again fill a bowl (one without any soap residue) with water. Lay a small paperclip across the tines of a fork. Place the fork in the water gently, allowing the paperclip to float off of the fork onto the surface of the water. To show your child that it’s floating on the water surface, show her that paperclips don’t float; she can’t drop one into the bowl of water without it sinking.
A book like The Backyard Scientist will give you lots of other ideas for exploring scientific principles while using items around your house… and not making a huge mess in the process. Are there any science experiments that you enjoy doing with your kids indoors?
Sites That Link to this Post
- Outdoor Science Activities | March 27, 2013