School Holiday Fun: Science Experiments!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Using a few simple household items, your kids can watch in wonder at these feats of science. Have everything prepped in advance to keep the wandering attention of smaller kids focused. Older kids can help with prep.

Once you’re set up, talk to the child about the experiment first and what they think might happen.

After the experiment, talk about what happened and how or why it happened.

Put your nerd coats on and let’s go!

Candle in the Wind

Can you blow out a candle that’s burning behind a glass?

- matches
- a tealight candle
- a tall glass or round vase

How to: Place the candle just behind the glass and light it. Ask your child to blow against the glass, from the front, at the same level as the candle. What happens?

Please explain: Air flows around the contour of round containers. This is what happens to an aircraft during flight. When the flow of air meets around the back of the glass, it snuffs out the flame.

Blow Up a Friend

Can you lift a friend sitting on a heavy book simply by blowing into a plastic bag???

- a large, heavy book
- a table top or counter top
- a thick plastic, airtight shopping bag
- some lungs

How to: Lay the plastic bag on the table top so its top third hangs over the edge. Place the large book on top of the bag. Have your friend sit on the book. Gather together the end of the plastic bag and blow into it. Keep blowing and see what happens!

Please explain: This is incredible. The air blown from your lungs is spread over a wide area, so it can support a lot of weight. 

Spinning Ball 
Can a small ball stay spinning inside an upturned jar?

- a small rubber ball
- a jar with a wide mouth

How to: Place the ball on top of the table and put the jar over the top. Start moving the jar around in a circular motion whilst still flat on the table. Once the ball starts spinning around the inside the jar, lift it from the table top and the ball will continue to spin inside. This takes some dexterity.

Please explain: Due to the force of the spin and speed of the ball, it will continue to spin until it loses its speed and gravity pulls it back down and out of the jar.

Swirled Milk

Can you make food colouring dance and swirl through milk, all on its own?

- food colouring
- liquid detergent
- a shallow dish
- whole milk

How to: Pour some milk into the dish and allow it to come to room temperature. Add a few drops of different coloured food colouring to the milk. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap into the milk. Marvel at what happens. You can keep adding small drops of soap to make new patterns. 

Please explain: The fat content of the milk is broken down by the liquid soap. This causes the food colouring to swirl and twirl and boggle the eyes! 

Three Layer Float

What happens when you drop three different items into a glass filled with three different liquids?

- water
- oil
- honey
- a cork or half a wooden clothes peg
- a coin
- a grape
- a tall clear glass or bottle

How to: Pour 5cm of honey into the glass. Pour in 5cm of oil. Pour in 5cm of water. Watch the liquids separate. Drop in the coin, grape and cork and see what happens.

Please explain: All three items stop at the three different fluids because each have different densities. The most dense is at the bottom and the least dense is at the top.

Vinegar and Oil in a Bottle

Can you mix together oil and vinegar?
- ½ cup oil
- ½ cup vinegar
- food coloring
- small, plastic drinking bottle with lid

How to: Add some drops of food colouring to the vinegar and pour into the bottle. Shake. Add the oil. Shake until the two liquids blend together. Let it sit. What happens? Go to the sink and slowly pour a little of the liquid out. Which liquid comes out? Next, put your finger over the bottle opening and let the liquid drip out. Which liquid comes out?

Please explain: Oil and vinegar don’t mix.

Wet and Dry Slime

Can you make a slime that is both firm and dry, and wet and sloppy all at the same time? 

- water
- cornflour (corn starch)
- food colouring

How to: Put some cornflour into a bowl (about 1-2 cups). Add some food colouring to the water and slowly add to the flour until it becomes a runny paste. If you add too much water, just add more flour. Take a handful really gently and it will ooze out of your hand like sloppy liquid. Grab at it or thump it hard and it becomes solid!
Please explain: This amazing goo is totally addictive but be prepared for mess! 

Tomorrow's cool School Holiday Fun activity involes a little bit of technology...

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