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Easy Homeschool Science Ideas

Easy Homeschool Science Ideas

For many parents doing science in their homeschool can seem daunting. It is a subject which conjures up different preconceived ideas about expensive equipment, dangerous chemicals, or perhaps even just lots of mess. However there are many simple, yet interesting experiments that can help spark a kids interest in science.

Here are a few simple experiments in the different fields of science to begin with.

Biology

  1. Seed Germination
  2. Take a jar and fill it with cotton wool, place a butterbean seed down the side of the jar. Add enough water to moisten the cotton wool, but not so much that the seed is sitting in a pool of water. Leave the jar in a warm place to watch the seed germinate.

    This experiment can be taken further. For example, you can set up a few jars: one that is left dry, and also leave one in the fridge, but with moistened cotton wool. Doing this allows you to see the affects temperature and lack of water have on seed germination.

  3. Bird Watching
  4. Keep a journal of birds that visit your garden. To do this set up a bird feeder and record the birds that visit. Doing this will enable a child to learn the names of different birds. It will also be a practical way for a child to help local wildlife and begin to learn about conservation. The RSPB website have some excellent resources.

Chemistry

  1. Density
  2. Density is the weight of an object in a given volume. A solid will sink in a liquid if it is denser, and float on a liquid if the liquid is denser.
    This experiment explores different liquids and solids of different densities. Take a large glass and fill it with water, vegetable oil and maple syrup in equal portions. The three liquids will separate out according to their density. The most dense will fall to the bottom and the least dense will go to the top. Next drop in a stone, a piece of cork, and a grape. These will order themselves according to density.

  3. Elephants Toothpaste
  4. This is an experiment which explores catalysts. A catalyst is a substance that seeds up a reaction, but does not take part in the reaction itself. To do this experiment you will need hydrogen peroxide, 3% concentration. This is labelled food grade and is safe to use in an experiment at home, but do not consume and supervise young children. Hydrogen Peroxide is the stuff used to dye hair “peroxide blonde”. It can be bought on Amazon or eBay.

    Hydrogen Peroxide slowly decomposes into water and oxygen. However if an enzyme called catalase is added the reaction is sped up. Take a 500 ml plastic juice bottle, and add enough hydrogen peroxide to give a about 3 inches at the bottom of the bottle. Squirt in about a teaspoon of washing up liquid (this is for effect, and does not take part in the reaction). In a small jug dissolve a sachet of yeast in about 30 ml of warm water. Pour about half the yeast into the plastic bottle.

    The catalase in the yeast speeds up the hydrogen peroxide. The oxygen and water cause the washing up liquid to bubble up rapidly, thus giving the cool effect that is Elephants Toothpaste.

  5. Endothermic Reaction
  6. An endothermic reaction is one which takes in heat. This results in a deduction of the temperature. A nice experiment we did was to take a tablespoon of citric acid and a table spoon of Bicarbonate of Soda. Add to these powders some water from the tap. However, before pouring the water in measure the temperature. The citric acid and bicarbonate will bubble quite energetically, use the thermometer the measure the temperature. When we did it we managed to record a drop in temperature from 20℃ to 4℃. If you do not have a thermometer, the temperature change is so great you can feel it with you hands on the jar or glass you are using.

    Citric Acid comes in a powder form and is used in wine making. It can be easily bough from Amazon, eBay or a wine making shop.

  7. Bicarbonate of Soda and Vinegar
  8. This is one of these experiments which can be done many ways. A simple way to do this is take an empty juice bottle and add about 50 ml of vinegar. Take a balloon and use a funnel to add about a table spoon of bicarbonate. Next place the balloon on top of the bottle and empty the bicarbonate into the bottle. The vinegar and bicarbonate will react and produce Carbon Dioxide. The gas will blow up the balloon.

    Another way to do this experiment, it to make a volcano from salt dough. Pour some vinegar and add the bicarbonate to the crater. By doing this you will make a fun volcano effect. You can add some red food colouring to give a nicer effect.

  9. Lava Lamp
  10. This is such an easy little experiment. It looks at the principals of density and the fact that water and oil will not mix (the fancy chemistry name for this is miscibility). In a large glass pour some water (food dye can be added), then pour in some water. The child then pours in teaspoonfuls of salt. My six year old loves this experiment, and asks to do it frequently. The picture and video were taken from him wanting to do this just before bed!

    Lava Lamp

  11. Investigating pH with Red Cabbage
  12. This is one of these experiments I had seen mentioned, but I was deeply skeptical about: come on Red Cabbage! But it works great.

    If you boil red cabbage leaves, until the water turns reddish/purple you have made yourself pH indicator. Drain off the cabbage, and allow the water to cool. In different glasses add some acids, and some alkalis in the others, then pour a little of the pH indicator on top. The colour will change. A nice little trick is to put some cabbage juice in a jar/glass then add some vinegar (acid) then put in some bicarbonate of soda. The bicarbonate will neutralise the acid and you will water the colour change as this happens.

Physics

  1. Circuit Buidling
  2. This is one that requires an intentional purchase. But we bought a Snap Circuit Kit a few years ago and it has been excellent. The instructions are really easy to follow, and there are lots of different types of circuit you can build. I would recommend this kit as a nice introduction to electricity.

  3. Magnetism
  4. Give a child a magnet and this can allow them to find things around the house what are magnetic and things that are not. My youngest boy loves doing this also.

  5. Magnetic Fields
  6. You can buy iron filings on eBay. If you empty some of these onto a plastic lid and put a magnet underneath the filings will move to form field lines. If you have different shaped magnets then you can see how this affects the shape of the magnetic field.

  7. Make a model Compass
  8. Take a needle and run a magnet along the length of it, ensure you only run it one way. Tape the needle onto a thin slice of cork and float the cork on some water. The cork needle will turn to point north.

  9. Bubble Mixture
  10. There is some really cool physics in bubbles. A home made bubble mixture can be made with:

    1. Fairy washing up liquid (it has to be Fairy, other brands are a bit rubbish)
    2. Water
    3. A dash of glycerine

    Gently mix these together and you have bubble mixture.

    We used pipe cleaners and straws to make a cube, and played at making square bubbles, and tetrahedron also worked well. By blowing very gently into the centre of the square/ triangle through a straw you can form a bubble in the centre.

    You can also make a bubble blower but cutting the bottom off a juice bottle. Around the bottom secure a jiffy cloth with an elastic band. Dip the bottom in the bubble mix then blow through the bottle lid.

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