StemToy Expert recently came up with a list of cool science experiments for kids that are easy and fun. Some of them are:

Science Experiments at Home that take Less than 1 Hour

1. Tie-Dye Milk

Sounds delicious, right? You’re not actually drinking it, but instead watching science magic happens when you combine dish soap with milk and food coloring. This is a very pretty experiment that draws the focus and mind into what’s happening on the plate, and all because of a little chemistry with everyday items. Well, food dye may not be an everyday item, but it might be after your kids get a hold of this!

So, what’s going on here, scientifically-speaking? Milk is made up of two major ingredients: water and fat. When you add a little dish soap, it bonds with the fat in the milk so strongly that it literally pushes the food coloring and water away from the cotton ball. On a microscopic level, the dish soap is wandering around the milk, which causes the colors to swirl and swirl.

Questions to ask beforehand:

  1. Before knowing what will happen to the food coloring, ask the kids what they think will happen when dish soap mixes with milk.
  2. Since the major catalyst is fat in the milk, what would happen if you used other types of milk: Skim milk, soy milk, coconut milk?

You’ll need:

  • Round cake pan or plate with high edges
  • Cotton ball (some tutorials show cotton swabs)
  • Dish detergent
  • Different colors of food dye (three or four should do)
  • Milk

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. Fill the pan halfway with milk.
  2. Drip one color of food dye in one section of the plate away from the center. Four to five drops works and later you can play around with more or less. Do the same for the rest of the colors around the plate.
  3. Soak the cotton ball in dish detergent, and when you’re ready for action, place the cotton ball into the center of the pan.
  4. Watch the colors racing around, creating a psychedelic tie-dye effect!
  5. You can add more cotton balls throughout the dish to see more action.
  6. If some food coloring hugs the wall of the plate, take a cotton swab dipped in dish detergent and place it into the food coloring. It will move away!

2. Saturn’s Glowing Rings

using a flashlight for a Saturn’s Glowing Rings experiment

I don’t know about you, but I love everything about space. This experiment shows you how Saturn’s rings are made of rocks and ice chunks even though they look so smooth in pictures. You’ll also see why there are big gaps in the rings. Younger kids take delight in using a flashlight and sprinkling powder, while older kids can get more specific with questions about Saturn and how the rocks and ice stay in orbit.

Questions to ask beforehand:

  1. Do Saturn’s rings give off their own light?
  2. Why are some rocks and ice chunks more lit up than others?
  3. Compare the results of light sprinkles to thicker sprinkles.

You’ll need:

  • Newspaper
  • Strong flashlight
  • Powder (flour, baby powder, etc) in a shaker
  • Very dark room

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. Darken a room and set the flashlight on the edge of a table or counter, pointing it at a blank wall. Lay the newspaper on the floor between the flashlight and the wall.
  2. Turn on the flashlight and notice where the light comes from the flashlight and where it hits the wall. You should only see the light from these two places and not from the space between them. This shows you that the light travels through the air without being seen until it hits the wall. The light represents the sun’s light.
  3. Now to see how Saturn’s rings glow: Hold the powder shaker and sprinkle some powder over the beam of light where you know the light is traveling. You’ll notice the powder lights up and sparkles in the beam of light. The powder shows in glowing clumps, just like in Saturn’s rings.

3. Breaking Down Colors

We all know that the fun, vibrant colors we see in our lives are created by mixing the basic red, yellow, and blue. In this experiment, you and your child will learn which colors make up those fun shades they have in their art supplies. This also teaches some basic chemistry and uses materials you already have at home. It can be done very simply and expanded to create a large-scale investigation if you love it.

Questions to ask beforehand:

  1. Which colors separate out first?
  2. Is the same order for each test?
  3. Which colors make up the original shade?
  4. Do the different types of color (pen, pencil, paint) separate in the same way or differently?
  5. Are some separated in a shorter space are the colors the same mixture?

You’ll need:

  • Coffee filters
  • Color sources (markers, colored pencils, paint, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • A plain pencil
  • Glasses
  • Water

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. To complete this experiment, cut the coffee filters into strips, mark one end with a line the same distance from the bottom on each strip.
  2. Color in each strip (between the bottom and line) with your colors, and write at the top what the color and source are (e.g., purple marker).
  3. Place each strip in a glass and help it to stand up by folding the top over a pencil (a chopstick, table knife, or any long narrow object will also work) so that it stands up in the glass.
  4. Fill the glass up to the top of your colored block, and wait. The water will move up the filter, and the colors will separate out as it goes.
  5. Remove the strip once the water gets near the top of the strip to stop the experiment. 

To make this a true experiment, we recommend testing multiple colors and using markers, colored pencils, and paint (as some starting examples). You could test the same colors from each type of art supply to investigate whether they all use the same mix of basic colors to create the same end product.

This post has a nice full description of the methods if you need more detail.

4. Water Xylophone

Water Xylophone - let kids experiment with sound and liquids

This simple experiment will teach your child about sound and pitch using glasses, water, and something to act as a mallet. Don’t let the simplicity deceive you, there are a lot of ways to experiment and learn through this process, and it also brings in an element of music that makes it interesting and engaging.

Questions to ask beforehand:

  1. Do you think more water makes the sound higher or lower in pitch?
  2. How do you think the shape or size of the glass will affect the sound?
  3. How should we arrange the glasses to play a simple song?
  4. Do you think this will work with a plastic cup, why or why not?

You’ll need:

  • Some glasses
  • Something wood to act as a mallet (we recommend wood so you don’t break the glasses!)
  • Water

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. A great way to start is with glasses that are the same size, shape, and material, and filling them with different amounts of water.
  2. Have your child use the mallet to test how the amount of water affects the sound.
  3. From there, it’s a really simple extension to use different sized and shaped glasses (or any glass vessel like jars and bowls) to experiment with how the shape, size, and amount of water in the glass affect the tone. 

To take this one further and really bring in the musical component, you and your child could work out a simple song and create the right tones to play it. If you or your child are musical, you could get very elaborate and creative (try googling harry potter or star wars theme songs on glasses, there are so many options that I couldn’t even choose one)!

5. Ultimate Bottle Flipping

Ah, bottle flipping. The fad that kids can’t get enough of, but parents are well and truly over. The constant thud of semi-filled water bottles being tossed (and hopefully landing upright) is guaranteed to send parents around the twist!

If you can stand it for a bit longer though, there’s a lot of STEM knowledge to be gained in this bottle flipping experiment. As we know, the aim of bottle flipping is to flip a partially filled water bottle underhand and get it to land upright.

In this experiment, kids will learn the importance of observing a result multiple times before changing a variable (the amount of water in the bottle).

Questions to ask beforehand:

  1. How much water should you put in the bottle?
  2. What is the ideal amount of liquid to get the perfect flip?
  3. What should be the ideal amount of water?
  4. Was their prediction correct?
  5. Why do they think the amount of water affects the chances of landing the bottle?

You’ll need:

  • A plastic water bottle
  • Measuring jug
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Paper to record results

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. Get the kids to start by flipping their bottle with no water in it at all. Kidspot recommends flipping it 50 times for each step, but you could do less if you need to.
  2. Try it again with 50ml of water.
  3. Keep adding more water until the bottle is full.

If they’re keen, you could try other types or sizes of bottles, or even try different liquids to see if that affects the results!

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6. Rainbow in a Jar

Rainbow in a Jar - a kitchen chemistry experiment for kids

This simple science experiment is not only very visually appealing, but it’s also a great way to learn about the density of liquids. Warning though, this one could get messy so make sure kids are in some old clothes and you might want to take it outside! I like this experiment because you’ll probably have most of the materials in your kitchen already!

Questions to ask beforehand:

  1. Which liquids they think will be heaviest?
  2. Which ones will be lightest?
  3. Why do they think that?

You’ll need:

  • A glass jar
  • Food coloring
  • Various liquids like honey, corn syrup, dishwashing liquid, olive oil, rubbing alcohol and water.

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. Use the food coloring to make all your liquids a different color. A dropper comes in handy here, but if you don’t have one you can manage without.
  2. Slowly add each liquid to the jar (pouring into the middle of the jar is best).
  3. Soon, you’ll have different layers of colored liquid forming your very own rainbow in a jar.

You might even get them to draw a diagram of what they think the jar will look like at the end. They can compare this with the experiment results to see if their prediction was correct.

It might also help to talk to your kids first about what density is and how materials are all made of different amounts of molecules. The more molecules a liquid has, the heavier it will be. Playdough to Plato demonstrates a great way of introducing this concept using marbles. 

7. Write Your Own Secret Messages! 

We love science experiments that are made up primarily of supplies that you likely already have in your home.

Questions to ask beforehand:

  1. Why do you think this will work?
  2. Which liquid do you think will make the best secret message?
  3. Why do people write secret messages?

You’ll need:

  • Juice (eg. Lemon)
  • Milk
  • Honey
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Paper
  • Q-tips
  • Lamp (or anything else that can be used as a heat source)

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. In order to complete this experiment, you’ll need to gather all of your supplies along with a piece of paper, some q-tips, and a lamp or other item that you can use as a heat source.
  2. Next, you’ll mix your lemon juice with a slight amount of water. 
  3. Using your q-tip, use the mixture you’ve created to begin writing your message. 
  4. Allow it to dry. 
  5. Once dry, apply heat to it in order to get your message to appear.

Extend this project by attempting to write with a juice and water mixture, a milk and water mixture, or any other variation of the liquids we listed as necessary supplies!

8. Create Your Own Butterfly

Create Your Own Butterfly and learn about capillary action

Your little ones will love practicing their color mixing by creating their very own coffee filter butterflies. Hang them in the windows of your home to spread some cheer and to watch the sun flow through their beautiful wings! 

Questions to ask beforehand:

  1. What colors can mix together to make other colors?
  2. How do butterflies fly?
  3. What do you think will happen when we add water to the markers?

You’ll need:

  • Coffee filters
  • Markers
  • Water spray bottle
  • Clothespin

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. Allow your child to draw on the coffee filter to their heart’s content.
  2. Spray it with water and allow the colors to mix together.
  3. Allow it to dry thoroughly.
  4. Once dry, fold it like a fan and then clip it in the middle.

Ta-da, you’ve created a beautiful butterfly! 

9. Make A Duck Call

Give your family an excuse to head outdoors by allowing your children to craft their own duck calls. Test them out at a local pond and see if you can get the ducks to come closer to you for a healthy veggie snack! 

Questions to ask beforehand:

  1. Do you think ducks will be able to hear us with this?
  2. What other materials do you think could make this noise?
  3. How is what we have created similar to a duck’s beak?

You’ll need:

  • Plastic straw
  • Scissors

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. Push down on the straw to flatten one end and then cut the flattened end into a point.
  2. Flatten out your straw and then blow into it.
  3. Feel free to experiment with different amounts of flattening and different point shapes to see how you can adjust the sound.
  4. When finished, take your duck call into the wild to test it out.

10. Make Ivory Soap Boats

Make Ivory Soap Boats - a home science experiment that is fun

Did you ever carve items out of soap at camp when you were a child? Give your child the same opportunity. Soap can be carved using safe items, like plastic knives. 

Questions to ask beforehand:

  1. Why are we able to carve soap so easily?
  2. Do you think our boats float?
  3. Why do you think they float or sink?

You’ll need:

  • Soap
  • Carving tools (for kids)

Procedure/Instructions:

  1. Allow your child to express their creative side by carving their boat out of soap. 
  2. Once they have finished carving it, allow them to test them out in the bathtub. .Extend their learning by discussing density with them–the soap floats because it is less dense than the water.

To view all 32 experiments with videos (in some cases), visit: https://www.stemtoyexpert.com/science-experiments-for-kids/#1_Tie-Dye_Milk