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Unleash Your Child’s Inner Scientist with these Five Home Experiments

 Children are natural born scientists. Whether they are playing with your favourite glass vase, plucking petals off flowers, or throwing food on the floor, they are always exploring and experimenting with something.

With the unfortunate spike of COVID-19 and its impact on children’s education, growth and social development, the pandemic has taken an enormous toll on families with young children. This leaves parents exhausted figuring out pandemic-friendly schedules and activities to keep them entertained. 

The Movement Control Order (MCO) may feel never-ending; but before you turn into a Mad Parent, try these five (5) educational science at-home experiments and be a Mad Scientist instead. By following the instructions carefully, you can help stimulate your child’s mind with scientific principles through these fun learning approach. Be sure to test out each experiment yourselves before trying it with the young ones as the activities below would require parental supervision. 

Watch your water walk overnight

A challenge for you: Move the water from one glass to another, without touching the glasses. 

Materials needed: Five clear glasses, water, two to three colours of food colouring, a spoon and four to five paper towels. 

To do this: 

1. Arrange five glasses in a row, alternating coloured water in one glass followed by an empty glass. Use the spoon to mix the food colouring in each filled glass.

2. Fold a one-inch-wide piece of kitchen towel into a ‘V’ shape. Repeat this step to get four pieces of the same kind. 

3. Form a ‘bridge’ connecting the adjacent glasses by inserting the kitchen towels. Ensure the kitchen towels are long enough to be soaked in the glasses of water. 

Due to capillary action, you will find that the water has “walked” over into the clear containers overnight, forming new colour mixes. Your child will be wow-ed when he/she wakes up the next day.

Make your own lava lamp

Even if you stir vigorously, water and oil will never mix due to density. 

Materials needed: A clear glass or mason jar, water, vegetable or mineral oil, food colouring, sodium bicarbonate tablets, and a flashlight.

To make your own DIY-lava lamp:

1. Fill a quarter of the clear glass with water and add several drops of your chosen food colouring before filling the rest of the glass with oil (not all the way to the brim).

2. Break a sodium bicarbonate tablet into four equal-sized pieces and drop one of the parts into the glass.

3. Place the glass on top of a large flashlight and drop in another piece of the sodium bicarbonate tablet.

The sodium bicarbonate tablet reacts to water instead of oil, forming carbon dioxide bubbles that spark a lava-looking reaction. You can bet that your child will be stirring and shaking them to see its effects!

Learn more about this experiment at the 3M Science at Home website. 

Get messy with a rainbow bubble snake 

Take a break from the at-home chaos and bring your children outdoors for fresh air and messy play. 

Materials needed: A small plastic bottle, a washcloth or thin towel, a rubber band, food colouring, water, dish soap, a small bowl, and a pair of scissors. 

Through the gasses from your breath, create different coloured snakes made of bubbles: 

1. Look through your pile of recyclables and get yourself a clean, empty plastic bottle. 

2. Cut the bottom of the bottle off and use a rubber band to fasten a washcloth or thin towel to the opening that has been cut.

3. Here’s where you get to explore your creativity: Add different food colourings and create patterns on the towel before dipping it into a mixing bowl of dish soap and water.

Take a deep breath and blow with force into the mouthpiece to form a long colourful bubble snake. This will keep your child entertained for a good 15-minutes, guaranteed.

Learn more about this experiment at the 3M Science at Home website. 

Understand how the lungs work

Since you have taken a deep breath to form your long bubble snake, did you know that humans breathe approximately 10 times per minute?

We know that our bodies get oxygen by breathing in fresh air, and exhales carbon dioxide. But what actually goes on in our bodies? 

Materials needed: A disposable transparent drinking bottle, two balloons, and a pair of scissors. 

To visualise the “insides” of our ribcage when we breathe, create a model of a lung with these simple steps: 

1. Cut the bottom of the bottle off and place it down on its opening before lowering a balloon into the mouth of the bottle.

2. Once you have lowered the balloon, fold the opening of the balloon over the mouth of the bottle.

3. Next, flip the bottle over and place it down on its mouth.

4. Secure your second balloon into a knot and cut off 1/3 of the balloon to create the diaphragm. 

5. Stretch out the wide opening of the balloon over the wide opening of the bottle.

Gently pull down the knot to see how the balloon in the bottle expands. Now, observe what happens when you gently push the knot in.

Learn more about this experiment at the 3M Science at Home website.

Tune up your rubber band guitar

Did you know that music is also a form of science?

To encourage children to build observation and problem-solving skills, explore science sounds by making your own guitar.  

Materials needed: Four rubber bands of varying thickness, an empty tissue box, two popsicle sticks, an empty paper towel tube, glue, strong tape, and a pair of scissors. 

Explore how frequency changes the pitch of the sound we hear: 

1. Remove the plastic from inside of the tissue box to give more space for the invisible sound waves to move.

2. Cut one end of your paper towel tube into an inch-wide slits or flaps before sticking it at the end of the tissue box using tape.

3. Glue two popsicle or craft sticks perpendicularly across each opening of the tissue box. 

4. To make the guitar strings, take four rubber bands of varying thickness and gently fit it over the tissue box.

String each rubber band down and observe the sound that the rubber band makes. Now that you have your guitar, get ready to tune-up!

Learn more about this experiment at the 3M Science at Home website.

There are many more simple, at-home experiments for parents and kids to follow. Head on over to Science at Home to see what the 3M scientists are up to. Hopefully, it will inspire you and your little one to explore more wonders of science.