Curiosity is one of our children’s greatest teachers. This summer, help your kids look at ordinary things around the house and in the yard with an expectation that there is something to be learned – a mystery to unveil. Consider doing these simple science experiments at home with your child. (No special equipment or fancy chemicals required.)
- 1 cup of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate)
- 1 cup of hot water
- Beaker, cup, or bowl
- Food coloring (optional)
In your beaker or container, stir together all of the salt and hot water. The hotter the water, the more salt that will dissolve, which is good because you want a saturated solution that can’t dissolve any more salt. Add a few drops of food coloring if you’d like colorful crystals. Put the container in the refrigerator for a few hours, which helps the crystals form more quickly, and then observe a container full of beautiful salt crystals.
Lesson: Crystals occur in chemical compounds like salt and sugar, as well as in minerals. The atoms in crystals cling to each other by electrical forces, forming three dimensional patterns. Rubies and emeralds are crystals, as are snowflakes.
Tornado in a bottle
- A clear plastic bottle with a cap (that won’t leak)
- Liquid dish soap
Fill the plastic bottle ¾ full with water and add a few drops of liquid dish soap. Add no more than one teaspoon of glitter. Put the cap on tightly, turn the bottle upside down, and swish the bottle in a circular motion for several seconds. Once you stop moving the bottle, the glitter will continue moving like a tornado in the middle!
Lesson: When you started swishing the water, you created centripetal force, which takes a circular path and is directed toward the center. The water continues spinning around the center of the vortex, much like a tornado, which forms during thunderstorms when warm, humid air collides with colder air to form a swirling vortex.
- Wading pool filled with water
- Pieces of aluminum foil of varying sizes
- Gravel, pebbles or rocks
Create boats out of the aluminum foil. Try folding the foil much like a paper airplane, balling it up into a swan or other shape, or keeping it low and flat. Once the foil is floating on the top of the pool, see which boat can hold the most weight by slowly adding pebbles or gravel to each one.
Lesson: The more surface area the boat has, the greater the upward force from the water, so it can hold more weight. While a swimming swan of foil might look great, the flat, large boat will win this competition.
If you like these simple science experiments and are looking for a school that teaches young minds in creative and fun ways, contact us at (480) 641-2640 or (602) 274-1910 to get more information about our K-8 nationally awarded charter school of excellence with an advanced learning curriculum. In addition to online learning, we have campuses in Phoenix, Glendale, East Mesa, and Mesa.