Want to turn your home into a kid-friendly scientific laboratory? You don’t need bubbling beakers and centrifuges to produce awesome at-home science experiments for kids. In fact, everything you need to help them feel like a tiny Nikolai Tesla or miniature Marie Curie is likely sitting in your home already. And we’re not just talking about the make-things-fizz genre of experiments. With a few simple ingredients, your kids can make everything from fake snot to invisible ink and actual lightning. They’re simple, educational, and a lot of fun. The best part? You don’t need a Ph.D. or particle accelerator.
Make Fake Snot
Similar to slime, fake snot is a great tool to have around the house for the purposes of … well, having fake snot around the house. Concocting your own nasty goo is a great way to get into some chemistry fundamentals with kitchen items.
What you’ll need:
- A cup
- A teaspoon
- A fork
- Boiling water
- Corn syrup
- Fill half a cup with boiling water.
- Add three teaspoons of gelatin.
- Let the mixture soften, then stir it with a fork.
- Add a quarter of a cup of corn syrup.
- Stir the mixture again with the fork.
- As the mixture cools, slowly add more water, small amounts at a time.
Tip: For some particularly fun goo, add green food coloring to the mixture along with the corn syrup.
Turn Pennies Green
This experiment might just be the only useful thing pennies are good for. Pennies are mostly made of copper, meaning they’re susceptible to oxidation like other metals. Instead of rusting, though, with the right mixture, the coins can produce a blue-green substance known as malachite!
What You’ll Need:
- Pennies, duh
- Small tray
- Paper towels
- Soak a paper towel in vinegar and place it at the bottom of the tray.
- Place the pennies onto the paper towel.
- Sprinkle the pennies with salt.
- Like a long time. Seriously. The process can occur in as fast as a day or as long as two weeks.
- Voila! Over time, the vinegar and salt have dissolved the penny’s top layer of copper-oxide. The copper atoms mixed with oxygen in the air and chlorine in the salt to produce blue-green malachite!
Make an Eggshell Disappear
Dissolving an eggshell is another easy activity with a longer wait but huge payoff: a rubbery, translucent egg!
What You’ll Need:
- White vinegar
- Jar with lid
- Put the egg in the glass jar.
- Pour enough vinegar into the jar to completely cover the egg. Don’t worry if it floats at first, it’ll sink.
- Be sure to check out the carbon dioxide bubbles that quickly form on the eggshell!
- Tighten the lid, and leave the concoction for a few days to a week. You’ll know the egg is ready when the brown color of the shell has paled to a whiter hue.
- Remove the egg and carefully wash it under water to wipe away the shell, gently rubbing it as you do so.
- You’ll be left with a translucent, amber egg! The naked egg is squishy and bouncy almost like a ball, but be careful not to break it unless you’re in the mood for a bigger cleanup.
Create Your Own Lightning
The lightning you see during storms is essentially just massive amounts of static electricity. You can safely replicate a similar effect at home by producing smaller amounts of charge, which is still pretty cool.
What You’ll Need:
- Inflated balloon
- Metal spoon (or any metal utensil)
- You know the drill! Rub the inflated balloon vigorously on your head for two minutes.
- Turn the lights off or go into another dark room.
- Touch the metal spoon to the balloon.
- Watch the spark!
Turn your kid into a secret agent with this simple recipe to concoct invisible ink that only they know the trick to revealing.
What You’ll Need
- Half a lemon
- A spoon
- Cotton Q-tip
- White paper
- Lamp, or similar lightbulb
- Squeeze lemon juice into the bowl.
- Add a few drops of water.
- Use the spoon to mix the water and lemon juice.
- Use the Q-tip as your pen. Dip it into the mixture and write a message on the paper.
- Wait for the juice to dry so you can’t read any of the message.
- To reveal the secret message, hold it close to the lightbulb to heat the paper.