Remember when you got your first chemistry set and couldn’t wait to get your hands on all the mysterious liquids and potent powders that promised all sorts of smells, colors, and perhaps even an explosion or two if you made the tiniest mistake? Even if you were more of a bookworm than the mad scientist type, it’s never too late to experience the wonders of science. So, the next time you need a break from publishing about science, take some time to enjoy these simple, family friendly, and inexpensive experiments.
Even if you grew up after this bit of ‘70s décor was all the rage, you can create the same hypnotizing effect with this easy lava lamp project.
- Empty 8-ounce transparent jar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Food colorings
Fill the jar with 2/3 cup water and add 1/3 cup oil. Drip several drops of food color on the oil, and slowly pour the salt in the jar.
Oil is lighter than water and floats until the salt drags it down to the bottom. As the salt dissolves, the oil bubbles back up to the surface, creating a visually mesmerizing effect.
Sometimes, the best part of an experiment is leading your audience down a prolonged path to an increasingly apprehensively expected outcome — that never comes. Try it yourself with this balloon experiment.
- Lighter or flame
Fill the limp balloon with water without allowing it to expand, then blow it up with air. Hold the balloon and lower it close to the flame.
Usually, a flame will heat a rubber balloon to the point where it melts and bursts. However, in this experiment, the water absorbs the heat, allowing the flame to pass through the intact balloon.
This one is likely to delight your kids, amaze your friends and confound your cat — but it’s not a laser pointer. Oobleck is a substance whose name comes straight from the mind of Dr. Seuss. Get goopy!
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups corn starch
- Food coloring
Slowly mix 1 1/2 cups of the corn starch into 1 cup water, then add enough of the remaining corn starch to reach a consistency that is neither liquid nor solid. Add food color as desired.
Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid, meaning it behaves as both a solid and a liquid. You’ll see firsthand what that means when you see the weirdly gyrating forms that spring to life if you put the goop on a vibrating sound source like a speaker.
Don’t leave science in the classroom or journal pages. Bring it into your home — and add a little fun and excitement to your life!
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