Children are born scientists. They're always experimenting with something, whether they're throwing a plate of spaghetti on the wall, blowing bubbles in the bath water or stacking blocks into an intricate tower only to destroy it in one big swipe. As they get older, you may decide to enroll them in a FREE online coding class to get a leg up in today's digital world. But you can actually do some pretty mind-blowing, hands-on science experiments at home using stuff you probably have lying around the house.
Don't worry if you never made it past biology: These 50 science activities are super-easy and a lot of fun to boot, as kids are exposed to a wide variety of scientific concepts. It's a great way to spend quality time together as a family and who knows, mom and dad may end up learning a new thing or two, too.
Find more at-home fun in our Boredom Busters guide for families.
Kids can make their own sweet treat: rock candy in a glass.
1. Learn about the crystallization process by growing rock candy in a glass.
2. Place white flowers in colored water and watch how they soak up the hues.
3. Build a container for an egg that protects it from breaking and then test it out by dropping it from on high.
4. Make homemade ice cream in a bag: shake salt, ice, cream, and sugar vigorously until the consistency is right, then enjoy.
5. Drop Pop Rocks into a bottle of soda and then place a balloon onto the opening to watch it inflate.
6. Whip up some Oobleck, a fascinating non-Newtonian fluid that can act like a solid or a liquid depending on certain conditions.
7. Borax plus glue equals homemade slime.
8. Microwave Ivory soap (or any soap that floats) to create a bizarre puffy soufflé.
9. Grow a bean in a clear cup to watch the roots grow down and the stem grow up.
10. Blow bubbles outside when temperatures dip to the single digits and watch them freeze.
11. Use lemon juice to make invisible ink that can only be seen when held up to a heat source.
12. Fold a paper airplane and then bend a corner to see how that changes its flightpath.
13. Set up a row of bottles with varying amounts of liquid and then blow across the openings to hear the different tones.
Learn about surface tension when you mix food coloring and soap in milk. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
14. Learn about surface tension by dropping food coloring into milk and watch as the colors move when you add some soap.
15. Create a tornado in a bottle by taping two plastic bottles together neck to neck—one filled, the other empty—and swirling it quickly.
16. Build a marshmallow catapult out of a plastic spoon, rubber bands and Popsicle sticks.
17. Mix Diet Coke and Mentos and stand back to watch the explosion. (Really! Stand back.)
18. Make your own butter by shaking a jar of heavy cream.
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Make sure an adult lights the candle for this amazing egg in a bottle experiment.
19. Force an egg to fit into a bottle by creating a suction using heat.
20. Change how an egg floats or sinks in a glass by adding salt to the water.
21. Plop oil into water to see that they really don't mix; try it with a variety of liquids to make a rainbow of stripes.
22. Grow mold on bread by putting slices in different environments (in a bag in the dark, in a bag in the sunlight, out in the open, in the refrigerator); see which one gets moldy first.
23. Demonstrate centripetal force by spinning a bucket of water on a rope in a vertical circle.
24. Make "elephant toothpaste" (a.k.a. an impressive large foam) out of soap, yeast, and hydrogen peroxide.
25. Fill a plastic bottle to the brim with water and put it in the freezer; in a few hours the bottle will crack because ice expands.
26. Use a plastic bag and cup to build a parachute for a light toy.
27. Ask your kids to do simple tasks with their hands, feet, and eyes (like grab a ball, stand on one foot, or wink) to see which side is dominant.
28. Make static electricity by rubbing balloons on clothing or shuffling on the carpet with socks, then zap someone with a quick touch.
29. Have your kids close their eyes and hold their nose and see if they can still identify foods by taste.
30. Bounce a ball on top of another to watch how the energy transfers to the top ball and leaves the bottom one "dead."
31. Use a balloon to amplify sound by holding it to your ear.
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Make a beautiful volcano in your own kitchen!
32. Mix baking soda, vinegar, and glitter for a sparkly volcano.
33. Use food coloring and water to see how combining primary colors makes secondary colors.
34. Explore the fat content of different foods by wiping them on a brown paper bag—fatty foods leave behind a greasy spot, while fruits and vegetables leave no trace at all.
35. Mix a batch of bread dough and separate it into several different bowls; place them in different places (outside, inside, in the dark, in the light) to see which environment yeast thrives in.
36. Turn milk into a material that acts like plastic using white vinegar.
37. Polish pennies with lemon juice—a quick soak in the acid leaves them shiny.
38. Make a Rube Goldberg machine featuring a series of moving pieces that affect one another: marbles, dominoes, books and most any surface.
39. Build your own periscope using a milk container and carefully angled mirrors that allow you to see things above or behind you.
40. Test your reaction time by having a friend drop a ruler between two almost closed fingers, and see how fast you can grab it.
41. Map your taste buds by dipping Q-tips into different flavors and placing them on different areas of your tongue.
42. Find your blind spot by moving a card with a speck on it until you can no longer see the spot.
43. Build a miniature windmill using a few simple objects, and watch it spin faster or slower based on the direction of the "blades."
44. Make a sundial by placing a stick in a vertical position and a circle of rocks around it marking each hour.
45. Cut ice in half using a fishing wire—the pressure melts the ice faster than the air.
46. Make a rainbow by holding a glass of water up to the sunlight with a sheet of paper behind it to catch the colors.
47. Build a rocket balloon car using a Styrofoam tray, a balloon, and a straw; watch how air pressure moves it across the table.
49. Make a lava lamp by pouring vegetable oil into water, then sprinkling salt on it to make the blob of oil move.
49. Craft a duck call by cutting the ends of a straw into a point, then blowing.
50. Fashion your own ball with this recipe and see how various shapes bounce differently.
Top photo of a baking soda and vinegar volcano by Sara Marentette Nighswander
Unless otherwise noted, all other photos courtesy of Wikivisuals
This article was first published in 2014, but it has since been updated.