Children love science, especially when they can participate in chemistry experiments. This should be cause for great joy for their parents. Be it a long weekend, vacation, snow day or home school science class, parents can guide their eager children through many exciting experiments using household items.
Parents planning to engage their children in home chemistry experiments should take precautions. Cheap plastic goggles, plastic gloves and an apron are all it takes to prepare your child for her first experiment.
Cut a three-sided square hole about an inch from the edge in the top of a left-over pizza box lid. Cover the inside of the flap with aluminum foil. Cover all the sides and the bottom of the box with smooth, wrinkle-free aluminum. Put a layer of glue around the opening that you cut. Then cover the inside of the lid, along the uncut edges with tightly drawn plastic wrap. Tape it tightly so it is air tight. Add a black sheet of construction paper to the bottom of the box. Put food inside. Take the box outside and angle it toward the sun. Hold the lid flap open with a dowel held on by masking tape. Your solar oven demonstrates the power of passive solar.
Fill an old-fashioned film canister one-third full of water. Add one-fourth of an Alka-Seltzer. Place the lid on the film canister and point it away from your body, toward an empty space. The gases formed by the mixture will cause the lid to pop. Play with differing amounts of liquids and tablets and find which solution makes it fly the farthest.
Cut a three-inch strip from a short paper towel sheet. One inch from the top of the towel, color three dots using purple, brown and black markers. Fill a drinking glass with water. Place the paper towel into the water but do not let the markers touch the water. As your absorbent towel soaks up the water, it will move past the colors and separate them, showing how many colors are used to create each shade.
Cover your table with newspaper. Lay one-half of a potato on the paper, add a tablespoon on flour mixed with water on another spot. Lay a slice of bread, a carrot slice, onion slice, tomato slice and any other food you want to test for starch. Get the Tincture of Iodine from the medicine cabinet. Add a two or three drops of iodine to each food. Those that have starch will turn a bright blueish purple color.
Fill two six-ounce cups half full. Add one tablespoon of salt to one cup and stir it until the salt dissolves. Mark one of the cups and place them in the freezer. Will the salt water freeze the same way the fresh water will? Check them in a couple of hours and find out.
Place an unboiled egg in a jar of vinegar. Observe it over a couple days. Notice any signs of gas formation or any other chemical reaction that might be taking shape.
Place a chicken bone in a jar of vinegar for several days. Make observations and draw conclusions about the chemical effect the vinegar has on the bone.
Tongs and dish soap
Add a teaspoon of dish soap to a bowl filled half-way with warm water. Using tongs, place a piece of dry ice into the bowl and water the foaming reaction. Warm the tongs and squeeze them on the dry ice. Listen for the song they sing. Using dilutes dish soap, blow bubbles on to the dry ice and watch what happens to them. Light a match the you hold over the dry ice and observe some more. For safety reasons, never touch the dry ice with your bare hands.
Cut a kitchen sponge into small, one-inch squares. Soak them and squeeze out the excess water. Place them in the bottom of a Styrofoam bowl. Cut a toilet paper tube into sections every inch or so, cutting down two or three inches. Set the tube in the center of the bowl. In a paper cup, mix equal parts of table salt, bluing and ammonia. If you want, add food coloring. Stir them with a plastic spoon. Pour the mixture over the sponges. Add a little water and add a couple of spoonfuls around the base of the paper towel tube. Sprinkle on a little more salt. Watch the crystals that grow over the next few hours. Add more mixture and they will continue growing for days.
Chemistry is such a versatile science that there are many household items you can use while you conduct the experiments. Remember to use disposable bowls and spoons that you can throw away or designate certain ones for use in your next chemistry day with the kids.