White vinegar is in short supply at the moment! I’m guessing that’s because a lot of people are doing easy science experiments at home these days?? Well here are some of my favourite kids science experiments using water, with just a few other props required. They’re all easy, quick and cheap! One thing you will see come up quite often in these instructions is food colouring. This also seems to be hard to get hold of currently. It’s often not essential but makes the results easier to see (or just prettier).
Magic bag science experiment
I have included this one on my other posts, but it’s a real favourite here. You can do this science experiment with the kids using just water, pencils and a zip-lock bag. Make sure you use a decent quality bag though, otherwise it doesn’t work. All you need to do is 3/4 fill a bag with ordinary water and get some sharp pencils. Quickly push the pencils straight through the bag and out the other side. That’s it. It looks cool, but it really is that simple to do!
Hot and cold water that doesn’t mix experiment
Have you ever seen photos of the point where two oceans meet but don’t mix? This hot and cold water experiment is similar but doesn’t need an entire ocean to do!! Fill two glasses almost to the top with cold water. Add some drops of food colouring. Then fill two other glasses with hot water. Put a piece of card over the top of one glass of cold water, press down firmly and then turn the glass upside down. This should have created a water-tight seal. Place this glass on top of one of the glasses of hot water. Ensuring the two glasses are lined up, gently slide the cardboard out. Watch what happens.
Now, or the really cool bit. Very carefully repeat the process with the hot water being placed on top of the cold water. It might be best if an adult does this bit. Watch what happens as you slide the card out. This is pretty cool!!
A balloon that won’t burst
You might already know that if you put a bit of sellotape on a balloon you can stick a pin in it and it won’t burst. Well this one is more dramatic. Blow up a balloon and get an adult to put it over a candle. Obviously, it will burst. Now, add some water to another balloon and then blow it up. If you put this balloon over the candle it doesn’t burst! Nice party little trick.
Walking water science experiment
Another incredibly easy science experiment for the kids to do just using water and food colouring! 3/4 fill three cups with water and add different food colours. Put an empty cup between the full ones. Fold kitchen roll in quarters length-ways and put one piece between each cup. Then wait. Youâ€™ll start seeing results within an hour or so, leave it over night for the best result. Youâ€™ll end up with the same amount of water in each cup! Tip â€“ we actually filled the first cup significantly higher than the rest, but all five ended up with the same amount of water. Something for the kids to puzzle over.
Science experiments using super cooled water
These experiments using super cooled water for kids all involve zero science kit, except optional food colouring. They’re so good we’re going to do them again.
1 – Freeze a bottle of water for three hours. Don’t leave it longer than this otherwise it won’t work. Ideally you want a bottle that doesn’t have a label on it so you can see what’s happening. Carefully remove the bottle from the freezer, making sure you don’t knock it or mix it up. Slowly tip it on its side to show the kids it’s still liquid. Then get them to slam it hard onto a table or worktop. Watch as it suddenly freezes! The first time we tried this it took about 10 seconds to start working. The second time we did the experiment the kids could see ice crystals forming straight away.
2 – Make another bottle of super cooled water. You’ll also need a frozen grape (leave a long stem on the grape) and a glass. Carefully fill the glass with super cooled water. Dangle the grape into the water and watch as ice crystals instantly grow around it! Leave the grape in for a little while and pull it out to see all the crystals. If you drop the grape in the glass instead of dangling it then it freezes the whole glass!
3 – Freeze a plate of water until it’s solid (we left ours overnight). This experiment also uses a bottle of super cooled water, but this time you can add food colouring if you want to. Very slowly pour the water onto the frozen plate of water. As you do so it starts to forms an icy stalagmite which is very cool! The first time we tried this we just poured it from the bottle and it didn’t work particularly well. We then carefully decanted the super cooled water into a jug and used that instead. The finer stream of water frozen more quickly and built the stalagmite properly.
This is really cool and has dramatic (and pretty) results! Kids of all ages can get involved (just be careful with the Alka seltzer). All you need to do this is an empty bottle, water, food colouring (any colour), oil and Alka seltzer. Put some water in the bottom of the bottle and add enough food colouring to give a strong colour. Carefully pour in some oil. You need a decent layer as this is where the bubble show. Break an Alka Seltzer into three pieces and add them one at a time. If you add too much then so many bubbles are formed it’s hard to see what’s going on. Once the reaction has calmed down you can add more pieces to keep the lamp going for longer.
Ice in oil science experiment
The ice in oil science experiment is really cool! All you need to do is put an ice cube in olive oil and watch what happens. The ice cube floats in the middle of the olive oil because it has a similar density. Fairly quickly the ambient temperature of the olive oil starts to make the ice cube melt. Because the resulting water is more dense than the oil in drops to the bottom of the glass as a bubble. Slowly but surely the ice cube disappears and a layer of water forms at the bottom of the glass.
Whirlpool bottle emptying trick
This is really good fun, but almost impossible to get a decent photo / video of the kids doing this apparently. I gave up in the end so here’s a video of someone else doing it! It took us a couple of goes to get the whirlpool right but when it worked, it was so good. It’s actually shocking how much quicker the bottle drains this way.
Three stages of oranges
Biggest Child has christened this the three stages of oranges! Again, it’s very simple. Fully peel one orange, remove almost all the peel from another and leave the remaining one alone. Fill a tall vase with cold water and pop the oranges in (peeled, partially peeled and then unpeeled) and see what happens. Then discuss why they think the float differently
Making rain (part 1)
This experiment is all about condensation. This science experiment does involve using hot water so please be careful around the kids. Pour just boiled water into a tall jug or vase. Let it start to fill with steam and then put a glass bowl of iced water on top. Then watch it start to rain!
Make a storm in a teacup (Making rain part 2)
Well, not exactly a storm in a teacup, but very close! This is a really simple way to show how clouds work and why it rains. Simply fill a clear plastic container with water (I’ve used a cup in the photo, but when doing this with the kids we used a large tub and we did it outdoors). Squirt a good dollop of shaving foam onto the surface. I actually squirted it into my hand and transferred it onto the water. Slowly add drops of coloured water onto the “clouds”. As they become saturated the coloured water will start to “rain” into the water below.
Science experiments using water don’t get prettier, or easier than this. Chromatography takes just seconds to do. It’s perfect if you want to do a bit of science with the kids but don’t have much time. You don’t need to waste anything. If you dry the filters out you can use them for various craft projects.
With washable pens draw on the bottom of a coffee filter. Only use one colour though otherwise you’ll ruin the experiment. Fold the filter into a cone and put it in about an inch of water. You should start seeing results instantly. If you don’t see it working straight away then use different pens. How do the different colours compare?
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