Fun Activities for Teaching Kids Basic Chemistry

Many parents face the challenge of diverting their children’s attention away from television and video games. While you probably won’t entice them away from screens to do homework, building curiosity and an interest in the things around them is something you can do. This will build lasting habits, an eagerness to learn, ask questions, and experiment. Chemistry surrounds us. Baking a chocolate cake is an example of how chemistry interacts with our daily lives. Offering age appropriate chemistry experiments is an excellent way to increase family interaction and boost an interest in science. Here are a few different experiments great for children of any age.

Preschool and Elementary

This simple experiment demonstrates how positive and negative charges in molecules interact.

Pour milk into a shallow dish. Add a few drops of food coloring to the milk. Various colors will add visual appeal.

Saturate a cotton swab with dish detergent. Dip the swab into the milk mixture and observe the reaction. The colors will move depending on the location and depth of the swab.

Expand the experiment by using different types of milk and soap. Note the differences.

Middle School

Making homemade soap is a good way to explore one of the earliest organic chemical reactions discovered by our ancient ancestors. This easy exercise demonstrates how various compounds combine and offers your child the opportunity to create her own personalized soap.

(This soap is not made from scratch.)

Begin by grating 1 pound of uncolored and unscented soap. This will become your base. Place half of the grated soap into a double boiler. Add just enough milk or water to cover the soap. Melt over a low heat. Gradually add remaining grated soap and stir frequently. Remove from heat as soon as the base is melted.

Add your colors and scents to the base. Experiment with fresh herbs or organic essential oils. Consider adding sugar, salt, or oatmeal for an exfoliating soap. Mix well. Pour the mixture into molds. Cupcake tins work well. Cover and let rest overnight. Remove from molds and enjoy.

 

High School

Dancing oobleck is a non-Newtonian substance. This means it is a solid under some circumstances and a liquid in others.

Mix I cup of water to 2 cups of cornstarch. Stir until the oobleck is smooth and free of lumps. Check the mixture with your fingers. It will solidify as you squeeze it and return to liquid when released.

Now it is time to bring out the stereo system. Lay your subwoofer on its back. Pour the oobleck into a foil tray and place on the speaker cone. Crank the tunes and let the dance begin.

 

Safety is a priority. Young children should always be properly supervised and provided protective gear such as safety glasses and gloves. Make your next experiment one that involves fun and family!

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