All children are born scientists — that’s why babies love to drop things from their high chair over and over again. They love to test their theories and not just once!
You can harness their enthusiasm and blow their little minds with these simple science experiments for kids — they’re easy to set up and are perfect for school holiday or weekend fun.
Some of these ideas have come straight from our wonderful Bub Hub forum members, so you know they’re tried and tested!
This experiment is super easy to do and perfect for when your child is starting to learn about directions — north, south, east, and west. And if they’re not at that stage yet, this can be just a cool magic trick!
- a bowl of water
- thin paper or foam
- a sewing needle
- a magnet
- Draw a circle on the paper or foam (you can trace around a drinking glass to get it exact if you want) and cut it out.
- Thread the needle through the middle of the circle, and back out again so it sits flat (see image)
- Stroke the needle with the magnet about 15-20 times, always in the same direction with the same side of the magnet – make sure to lift the magnet away from the needle at the end of each stroke.
- Place the circle on top of the bowl of water so it floats, and wait. After a few moments, the circle will spin and then stop – and the pointy end of the needle will be facing north!
- Spin it around again and watch as it rights itself back to pointing north. You can test it with a real compass if you have one.
Make your hair stand on end
This experiment only takes a few seconds to conduct, but will amaze the littlies! Great for a quick entertainer at parties, too. This can introduce the concept of static electricity to bigger kids as well.
- Blow up the balloon — you can use more than one for multiple kids or one for yourself too.
- Rub the balloon on your hair and your child’s hair vigorously for a few seconds.
- Pull the balloon away from your head slowly and watch the hair stand straight up!
- Either stand in front of your child while you do it so they can see, or do it together in front of a mirror so they can see their own hair stand up.
Does it float?
You and your child can have a great time testing out whether or not certain objects float on water. This can be done super easily with just a few household items.
- A big container or bucket of water — not too full, but enough so things can sink
- Floating items – e.g. a cork, a bottle cap, a scrap of paper, a feather, a leaf, an empty plastic bottle etc.
- Sinking items – e.g. a rock or stone, a coin, a spoon, a plastic bottle filled with water etc.
- Lay all of the objects out beside the bucket of water — but mix up the order of sinking and floating.
- Have your child guess which things they think will float and which will sink.
- One at a time, let your child drop each item into the bucket.
- Explain each item after you figure out if it floats or sinks — the lighter items will general float and heavier ones will generally sink. The more dense an object the more likely it will sink.
How much air is in your lungs?
This is an easy experiment that even little children can do. It shows how all bodies are different — even two children who are about the same size might have very different lung capacities.
- a big bowl half full of water
- a large, empty plastic bottle
- drinking straws – bendy
- Fill the bottle with water and put the lid on.
- Turn it upside down and place it in the bowl of water, so the lid is touching the bottom of the bowl.
- Hold the bottle upright and gently remove the lid.
- Keep holding the bottle upright, and place one end of a bendy straw into the soda bottle.
- Get one child to take a deep breath and blow into the other end of the straw until they have no air left in their lungs.
- The air will force some of the water to come out of the soda bottle and flow into the water bowl, and there will be a big air bubble at the top of the soda bottle – mark where the air and water meet with a marker.
- Fill the bottle again and repeat from step 4 for each child. The child who managed to put the most air into the bottle is the one with the largest lung capacity!
This is an old favourite among kids and can still make for a lot of fun! It doesn’t take long to set up, but can become hours of fun with a little imagination.
- 2 paper or plastic cups
- a sewing needle or sharp pencil
- String – fishing line or kite string work well
- Cut a long piece of string – to start off with make it about 20 metres. You can experiment with length once you’ve mastered creating it.
- Use the needle or pencil to poke a small hole in the bottom of each cup.
- Thread the string through the holes at each end and tie a knot in the string inside the cup to stop it pulling back through – or tie the string to a small object like a paperclip if that is easier.
- Hold the cups at a distance that means the string is pulled fairly tight, and make sure the string isn’t touching anything apart from the cups.
- One person puts the cup to their ear, and the other talks into it – you should be able to hear each through the string!
Baking soda and vinegar volcano
This is a surefire entertainer for little kids, and bigger ones too, and can teach them a bit about chemical reactions.
- Baking soda
- A tall container to mix the soda and vinegar in (and watch it explode)
- A big container to put the other container inside (to avoid mess)
- Paper towels, or a cloth, just in case of mess
- Place the tall container inside the bigger one and pour in some baking soda.
- Slowly pour some vinegar into the tall container.
- Watch the mixture sizzle and erupt like a volcano!
- Try it again, but make it like a real volcano made out of paper mache, and add red food dye to the mixture so it’s like lava.
These science experiments will keep the kids occupied and fuel their little imaginations. Try them out with your toddlers or bigger kids — you might even get a kick out of the experiments too.
Check out our Things to Do Hub for more great activity ideas and games.