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Kids love science. Whether they’re willing to admit it or not, everyone loves a good chemical reaction or a fun sensory activity. Even all of those super cool high school students will get excited about some at-home science experiments, so why not take advantage of the opportunity to do some interactive science activities this summer? Especially if you’re already beginning to hear the typical summer complaint of “I’m bored,” you can hand your kids some basic supplies and simple instructions and set them off on a magical scientific journey of adventure, exploration, and maybe even learning!
This interactive activity can be done with scientists of any age, from toddlers up to high schoolers. You may have to adapt it slightly based on age, and this one does require a bit of simple preparation, but your kids will love it. Essentially, you freeze an object (or objects) in ice and let your kids excavate it. You can present them with materials to dig out the “fossil”, or you can have them come up with their own ideas about how to best get the fossil out safely and carefully. You may wish to freeze small objects, such as Lego figurines, in an ice cube tray. You might freeze small dinosaurs inside water balloons to make “dinosaur eggs,” or you could put several toys and objects in a larger Tupperware bin so that multiple fossils come out of the same block of ice.
1. Freeze your objects of choice in your container of choice
2. Give the frozen fossils to your scientists
3. Let them lead the way in the best approach to carefully getting their fossils out of the ice
Remember when you were a kid and lava lamps were the coolest thing ever? As it turns out, kids these days still think lava lamps are awesome. They’re even cooler now that parents can teach their kids how to make their own lava lamp! This interactive science activity will help your students learn about chemical reactions, solubility, density, and more.
1. Pour about 1/2 cup of water into a clear container and add food coloring.
2. Pour about 3/4 cup vegetable oil into the colored water.
3. Break up the alka seltzer tablets into 2-3 pieces each and begin dropping them into the mixture one at a time. If you put too many in at a time or the mixture is too close to the top of the container, it will bubble over the top.
4. If you used a lidded container for your lava lamp, you can put the lid on and put a light underneath it for a true lava lamp effect.
Though this is a simple experiment, it can teach kids all about how lightning is created with just a little electricity and the right environment. There are other experiments out there that demonstrate how static electricity is created, but since lightning is just a much larger and more dramatic display of static electricity, this experiment will likely be more satisfying to your students.
1. Blow up the balloon and tie it.
2. Rub the balloon vigorously on someone’s hair for a solid two minutes.
3. Turn the lights off in a dark room and simply touch the spoon to the balloon to see the lightning creation!
Egg Drop Challenge
Most people have heard about the egg drop challenge, but few have actually done it. Let your kids see what all the excitement is about with your very own egg drop activity this summer! The idea behind this experiment is to learn what will best protect a raw egg when it is dropped from a height. You can select a handful of supplies for your kids to use for this activity, or you can give them complete control and let them pick whatever they think will work from around the house. This is about engineering, but it’s also about learning from mistakes, so it’s best to start with some lower drops first to test out what your kids came up with so they have a chance to make changes if needed.
1. Depending on how much creative freedom you are giving your kids, have them start by making a list of supplies they want and need for this activity.
2. Gather the supplies or have them look through the house for what they need.
3. Let them build and create their egg-holding contraptions and ask some questions to learn about their processes.
4. Do a test run of the egg drop from a lower height than the final goal and let the kids make adjustments as needed before the final drop.
5. Do the final drop from a second story window or other high height. Be sure to record the drop and discuss possible changes that the kids may have made if they had another opportunity.
Bottle Rocket Launch
Students of all ages are sure to love this classic interactive science activity. With just a few simple supplies that you probably already have at home, you can make an amazing bottle rocket launch right at home! The pressure will build up inside the bottle from the pump, and it will eventually pop the cork out and the pressure of the water will make it launch. Be sure not to approach the rocket after starting pumping, even if it appears nothing is happening.
1. Decorate the bottle with the cone and fins, and paint it if you’d like.
2. Push the needle adaptor from the pump all the way through the cork. If it’s too short to come out the other side, you may need to cut part of the end off.
3. Fill the bottle about ¼ full of water and push the cork in it.
4. Connect the needle adaptor to the pump and set it up on its launch pad.
5. Have all kids stand back as an adult begins pumping the pump.
6. After a few pumps, the rocket will launch suddenly.
Hot Ice Magic
Starting with two classic science experiment must-haves, baking soda and vinegar, you know this activity is going to be amazing. By far one of the coolest interactive science activities out there, this is sure to mesmerize toddlers and adults alike.
1. Start by pouring the 4 cups of white vinegar into the pot (not yet on the heat).
2. Slowly mix in one tablespoon of baking soda at a time. If you dump it all at once, it will bubble too much and overflow.
3. Boil the mixture over medium-low heat for about an hour. It should reduce by 75% and leave you with around 1 cup.
4. Once it’s been reduced, pour the mixture into a glass measuring cup or another glass container (with a spout to pour from) and put it in the fridge.
5. Scrape a bit of the crystallized mixture from the inside of the pot before washing it and put it in the center of your deep plate or pie dish. This is an important step in offering a starting place for the crystals to form later.
6. After about 30-45 minutes in the fridge, take the solution out and be very careful not to bump it at all.
7. Begin pouring very slowly into the center of the dish where you put your crystal powder. Rather than pouring like a normal liquid, the solution will form crystals on top of each other and create a tower of hot ice! It will look just like ice, but it will be hot to touch.