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3 Fun Science Experiments

  • Ngoc Minh Ngo

    Your kids have been working hard in the classroom all year -- and so have you. Now it's time for some real fun! Try these do-it-yourself science experiments with your kids and watch their minds expand. Who said science isn't super cool?

    Parents, be sure to supervise all experiments.

    Our science experts: Rick Sanborn, former director of Sanborn Western Camps, in Florissant, CO; Brian Jones, director of the Little Shop of Physics at Colorado State University; and Pat Murphy author of family science books from the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco.

    Plus:
    Super-Cool Science Toys

  • Sink or swim?

    What you'll need:
    Corn syrup
    Green and blue food coloring
    Water
    Vegetable oil
    A paper clip
    A grape
    A plastic bottle top

    What to do:

    1. Pour one inch of corn syrup into a tall glass or jar, and stir in a drop of green food coloring.

    2. Have your child mix a drop of blue food coloring into a cup of water. Let him carefully pour an inch or two on top of the syrup.

    3. Add one inch of vegetable oil.

    4. Once the liquids have settled into distinct layers, have her drop a paper clip, a grape, and then a small plastic bottle top into the jar

    5. Watch how the objects slowly fall and eventually suspend in the different layers.

    The science behind it: Corn syrup, water, and oil are all made up of tiny particles called molecules. The more tightly packed the molecules, the more dense -- or heavy -- the liquid. Here, the syrup is the heaviest, followed by the water, and then the oil, which is why they form layers. The same holds true for the objects dropped into the jar, which is why the paper clip sinks to the bottom, the grape hangs in the middle, and the cap floats.

  • Getting fizzical

    What you'll need:
    A zipper-lock sandwich bag
    1/2 cup vinegar
    1 Tbsp liquid soap
    Glitter (optional)
    1 Tbsp baking soda

    What to do:

    1. Fill a zipper-lock sandwich bag with the vinegar and soap (add a pinch of glitter, if you have it).

    2. Take it outside, and add the baking soda.

    3. Seal the bag, shake it once, hard, then set it down on a sidewalk or driveway (you may not want to put it on the lawn, since it can leave a small burn mark).

    4. Stand back! Within three or four seconds, the bag will quickly fill with bubbles, then burst, sending suds flying.

    The science behind it: When the baking soda comes into contact with the vinegar, it causes a chemical reaction, and a bubbly gas called carbon dioxide (the same fizzy substance found in soda) is created as a result. The gas fills up the bag, causing it to expand and explode.

  • Ngoc Minh Ngo

    An egg-cellent trick

    What you'll need:
    An egg
    Matches
    A milk or salad-dressing bottle

    What to do:

    1. Hard-boil and peel an egg; set aside.

    2. Drop two lit matches inside a glass bottle with a long, narrow neck and an opening just wide enough to keep the egg from falling in (we used a milk bottle).

    3. Have your child set the egg on top of the bottle's mouth while the matches are still lit.

    4. Watch the egg get sucked down into the container.

    The science behind it: After the matches burn out, the air inside cools, lowering the pressure there. Because the air pressure outside the bottle is now greater, it pushes the egg inside.

    Plus:
    Super-Cool Science Toys

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