Doing experiments with the boys is an easy way to keep them entertained. I particularly like doing science experiments using food as most of us have the necessary ingredients kicking around the house anyway. All of the science experiments below are easy to do with children and don’t cost a lot of money.
Bouncy Egg Experiment
This one is weird! Really really weird. It’s also incredibly easy! All you have to do is put an ordinary egg in a glass of white vinegar and wait at least 24 hours. Thankfully you start seeing results fairly quickly so you can keep their interest. The bubbles start to form on the surface almost instantly. Within 10 minutes there are so many that their boyancy actually lifts the egg off the bottom of the jar.
After 24 hours carefully lift the egg out of the glass. You should then be able to (again gently) rub the shell off the egg. What you’re left with is an egg that you can squeeze and bounce! Don’t bounce it from too high though, otherwise it will break.
Magic Milk Experiment
You only need a couple of items for this food science experiment. Cover the base of a shallow dish or plate with full fat milk. You don’t need a lot of milk, just enough to cover it. Then add in some drops of food colouring or gel. Finally dip a cotton bud into washing up liquid and touch the surface of the milk. Then just watch what happens – it’s Magic Milk!
Milk and Vinegar Experiment
I’ll be honest, the milk and vinegar experiment is the least favourite of all the food science experiments. It’s really gross. That said, it’s also pretty cool and some kids will love it. You can actually make a kind of plastic as part of this experiment.
Get one cup of warm full fat milk and add 4 table spoons of vinegar. The mixture will immediately start to curdle. Stir it for a couple of minutes until it has finished reacting. Warning – this smells! You then need to pour it through a fine mesh sieve. Turn out the remaining mush and squeeze the last water out using a tea towel. It’s fairly crumbly at this stage, but still mouldable. Shape the “plastic” and leave it to dry for a few days. The end result is surprisingly hard.
Bread Hand Washing Experiment
More than ever, washing our hands is at the foremost of everyone’s minds. Just shoving your hands under a running tap isn’t enough. The bread hand washing experiment is a great way of showing kids how important proper hand washing is. All you need for this is some slices of bread and some zip-lock bags. The best bread to use is apparently either bakery or home made bread because it has less preservatives. We did just use normal bread though.
We decided to do four experiments but there are other variations you can do. You need one control – use clean tongs to put it into the bag or turn the bag inside out to pick the slice up. To avoid cross contamination I used tongs to get all the different slices out of the bread bag. Put your hands on the slice of bread and then put it into the bag. We did hands washed with just water, hands washed with soap and water and dirty hands. I picked the kids to do each one carefully to get the most spectacular results. I did the soap and water slice myself and scrubbed for England to minimise the growth. Smallest Child had not long come out of playing in the garden so she was the perfect candidate for dirty hands! You can also do alcohol hand gel but I decided to leave this one out. I didn’t want the kids thinking that hand gel is pointless. Leave the bags in a cool, dry place for several days / a week and compare the results.
Currently the handwashing bread experiment is a WIP in our house so I’ll post a picture of the end results when we get there.
Cress Growing Experiment
The cress growing experiment is a classic. We decided to add in a few variations to step it up a gear. You’ll need some cress seeds, 6 tubs, some kitchen roll, a sharpie and some water. Put a sheet of kitchen roll (folded into a square) into each of the tubs and sprinkle some seeds. On one tub write “light, no water”, on one tub write “dark, no water”. Add some water to the other four tubs. On these write “light, water”, “dark, water”, “no light, water, started” and “no light, no water, started”. Put the two “dark” tubs somewhere dark (obviously) and put the other four on a windowsill.
Make sure the tubs that need water are kept moist and watch what happens over the next few days. Once the two tubs labelled started are well established move them into the dark. This lets you see what happens to when light is removed from healthy plants as well as when there’s no light during germination.
Coke and Mentos Experiment
This experiment took a bit of trial and error to get right. The first time I did it I wanted both boys to have a turn so I decanted half of the coke into another bottle. I only used five mentos in each bottle. Underwhelming would be a generous description!!
Then I did a whole tube of mentos into a 2ltr bottle of coke (you literally just drop them in and step back). That’s much better!!
The skittles experiment is also included on my easy science experiments list but I thought I’d include it here because it’s really easy and fun. Put a ring of skittles around the edge of a white plate. Carefully pour warm water into the middle of the plate and watch as the colour from each skittle spreads towards the centre of the plate, without mixing. We only poured enough water to half cover the skittles and it worked well. For some very cool variations of this add an additional, smaller circle of skittles within the first one and see what happens. You can also try this using lemonade and/or vinegar.
Lemon Volcanoes Experiment
The lemon volcanoes experiment is slightly less messy than the bicarb and vinegar one because there’s less of a reaction. It’s still good fun, and a bit easier for smaller children to help with. Simply cut lemon in half. Cut a small bit off the bottom so it sits flat. Using an icelolly stick smoosh the lemon up a bit so plenty of liquid is sitting on top. Add a couple of drops of food colouring. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of bicarb of soda onto the top of the lemon. When it comes to this stage, less is most definitely more. If you have too much bicarb you’ll smother the reaction. As the reaction starts to slow down smoosh the lemon again with the lollipop stick.
If you want an experiment using bicarb of soda that results in something edible then have a look at my easy recipe for honeycomb here.
Tips for easy science experiments using food
Some of these science experiments using food take hours, or days, to show results. That can get a bit frustrating for the kids sometimes. It might be a good idea to do a couple of these experiments on the same day – one of the quick ones and one of the slower ones.
I hope you find these science experiments with food fun and easy to do. If you’re looking for other ideas and activities to do with the kids check out the activities section by clicking here.
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with out three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook