Kids love exploring in hands-on ways. Science is a great way to pique their natural curiosity about the world around them.
The kitchen is a fantastic ‘laboratory’ for inspiring young scientists. From instant reactions to experiments that develop over time, food and baking supplies can provide inexpensive and readily available materials for scientific inquiry.
Here are some simple science experiments using everyday kitchen items:
Fizzy Baking Soda
• Baking soda can be the catalyst for numerous reactions, including the classic one with vinegar.
• Baking soda with lemon also makes a great silver cleaner.
Fun with Food Colouring
• A celery stalk in coloured water demonstrates how water is carried through the cells of a plant.
• Place drops of different colours into milk, then dip a chopstick that’s been dipped in dish soap into the milk for a visual spectacle.
• Children can predict and study psychological reactions of cookie-eaters by baking cookies with and without green food colouring.
• Cornstarch mixed with water and food colouring makes an amazing ‘wet/dry goo’ that kids love.
• Watch beans grow by placing seeds within moist paper towels in baggies.
• A simple piece of bread in a baggie can visually explain mold growth to your child, which could prompt further research into the development of penicillin.
• Children can learn about food preservatives while observing the difference in the rate of decomposition between fast food French fries and homemade fries.
Magic Salt, Vinegar and Lemon Juice
• See how much salt needs to be added to water to float a hard-boiled egg in it.
• Make ice-cream in a baggie by vigorously shaking a baggie filled with cream, sugar and vanilla inside a larger baggie filled with ice and salt.
• Use lemon juice to write a message with ‘invisible ink’, and later expose it with the heat of a lamp.
• Soak a chicken bone in vinegar to make it bendable.
The Wonders of Water
• Mix oil and water in a jar, shake together, and watch them separate.
• How about using a spoon to hit glasses filled with different levels of water to create your own musical instrument?
• Have your son or daughter observe light refraction by looking at a straw in a drinking glass.
Of course, cooking and baking are great tools to stretch your child’s curiosity. Ask children what they observe happening, and use the oven light to peak at reactions taking place inside. Something as simple as explaining how cornstarch thickens a sauce, or how condensation creates water on a pot’s lid can prompt children to ask more questions about their environment.
Make your home science experiments as formal or informal as you’d like. Simply predicting what will happen and discussing observations is a great way to encourage learning. Simple science experiments are a great way to explore any areas your child is naturally inquisitive about. Any personal scientific inquiry will help children come up with ideas for future science fair projects, as well as become active learners in the world around them.