Break chemistry out of the laboratory and move it to your house. Not all chemistry experiments require the use of dangerous chemicals that have the potential to explode. In fact, many experiments are perfect for the home setting. Don goggles to protect your eyes and rubber gloves to protect your hands; now you are ready to complete a chemistry experiment in your home.
The first step necessary to complete chemistry experiments safely at home is to set aside equipment that will be used, exclusively, for your experiments. Do not use your drinking glasses, spoons or other items that will be used for your consumption of food. Mark your chemistry tools clearly with a permanent marker.
Get your kids interested by taking them outside with a bottle of coke, a package of Mentos and a note card. Line the Mentos up on the note card. Carefully move the card; let the Mentos drop into the soda and run! The chemical reaction will engage your students and make them want to try a chemistry project at home. Let them try these:
Hypothesis: Polymer balls can bounce.
Mix one-half teaspoon of borax with two tablespoons of water. Add three drops of your favorite food coloring color and mix until the borax is completely dissolved. In another container, add one tablespoon cornstarch, one tablespoon of glue and one-half teaspoon of the borax solution. Let the solution set for one-half minute. Pour the mixture into your hands and squeeze it together, mixing it well. Roll it into a ball and, once the sticky feel is gone, try to bounce your ball.
Hypothesis: The properties of cornstarch are effected by heat.
Place two cups of cornstarch into a small bowl. Slowly add water, mixing it with the cornstarch. When the cornstarch is firm, roll it in a ball and hold it in your hands. If it melts, you have found the right consistency.
Hypothesis: Combustion produces water and gas.
Adhere a birthday candle to the bottom of a cake pan by melting a little wax and setting the candle in the wax to dry. Pour water around the candle. Place a jar in the water beside the candle. Record the water level.
Light the candle and place the jar over the top of the candle. Measure the water level. Slide a piece of cardboard under the jar while it is still under the water and trap the gas inside. Light a match; slide the cardboard a little to the side and hold the match in the jar. Observe what happens.
Hypothesis: Food coloring will dissolve in water, but not in oil.
Pour one-third of water into a mason jar. Add one-third cup of cooking oil to the jar. Le them settle. Add five drops of red food coloring and watch it in the oil. Take a skewer and push the drops of food coloring down past the oil. Observe what happens when the red food coloring reaches the water.
Hypothesis: Not every substance becomes part of a chemical solution.
Fill two wide-mouthed mason jars with tap water. In one mixture, add two tablespoons of salt and in the other, add two tablespoons of plant soil. Stir both mixtures and observe them. You will find that one substance has molecules that mix and the substance becomes invisible to the eye, forming a solution. The second substance will be resistant at first and will be in a state called suspension. In time, the suspension will end but the substance’s molecules will not combine with the water to become part of a solution.
Hypothesis: Air takes up space.
Fill a wide bowl with water. Cover the top of a small, clear, plastic cup and place it in the water. Observe the water level in the cup. Tilt the cup, still under water and place a medicine dropper under it. Squeeze the air from the dropper into the cup. Watch what happens to the water level in the cup. Is the any indication that air takes up space?
Hypothesis: Baking soda creates a gas when it is combined with water.
Put one tablespoon of baking soda in the middle of a coffee filter. Gather up the sides and hold them shut with a rubber band. Fill a clear glass bowl with water. Fill a tall clear glass with water, add the coffee filter filled with baking soda. Cover the top of the glass and invert in into the bowl of water. When the glass is at the bottom of the bowl, remove the cover and set the glass down. Mark the water level on the glass. Keep your eye on your project for the next hour and observe the water line. If the water level goes down, gas was formed that forced it from the glass.
Hypothesis: Fruit juices contain iron.
Brew a strong pot of tea. While it is brewing, put four tablespoons of juice from several different types of real juice such as apple juice, cranberry juice, pineapple juice and white grape juice in clear plastic glasses. When the tea has brewed, add four tablespoons of tea to each glass of juice and stir the mixture. Let it set for twenty minutes. Do not touch the glasses during this time. After twenty minutes, check the glasses for a dark substance at the bottom of the glass. Check again two hours later. By the end of two and one-half hours, any juice containing iron will have developed the dark substance. The juices forming the particles the fastest contain the most iron.
Hypothesis: Milk contains both liquid and solid.
Fill a small jar with milk. Add two tablespoons to the mixture and stir. Sit the jar aside. In three minutes, check the milk mixture again. Little Miss Muffet describes the results; the solid is curds and the liquid is whey.
Chemistry in the kitchen is fun, easy and inexpensive. There are no real top experiments because you will love them all.
The last two experiments can be found in Chemistry for Every Kid by Janice Van Cleave. I recommend her books on every science subject.