Even simple science experiments done at home can be super educational and fun for kids of all ages. Each of these easy science experiments will take about 30 minutes to complete from start to finish, and uses simple ingredients from around the house.
These fun science experiments and stem challenges use simple ingredients and household items that you can find around the house, like food coloring, dish soap, paper towels, ice cubes, rubber bands, white vinegar, vegetable oil, and baking soda.
Kids of all ages, and especially young kids, will love these cool science experiments and science activities that you can do together on the weekend or after school. It’s a great way to learn about the scientific method that they’ll use throughout their schooling and perhaps their whole life!
And, you never know. One simple experiment might be the light bulb moment that inspires them to be a scientist for life.
At the very least, you’ll probably inspire some really cool science fair projects!
20 Easy Science Experiments Your Kids Will Love
1. Lava Lamp
Overview: This simple experiment is a hit with kids of all ages, and it will take their favorite adults back a few decades, too! This easy science activity teaches kids about density.
What You Need:
A clean plastic bottle (or several plastic bottles)
Fizzing tablets (like an Alka-Seltzer tablet)
Fill the bottle up with water about 1/4th full. Pour the vegetable oil into the bottle until is almost full. Use a funnel if you have one. Wait a few moment and watch as the oil and water separates. Add a few drops of your favorite color food coloring. Watch the color make its way through the oil. The next step is to break your fizzy tablet in half and drop part of it into the bottle. Watch the bubble blobs form. If you have a flashlight, turn off the lights and drop in another half tablet. Shine the flashlight through the lava lamp while the blobs are bubbling!
What’s Happening: The oil floats on top of the water because it is less dense (lighter) than water. The food coloring has the same density as the water so it sinks through the oil and mixes with the water. As the tablet dissolves it creates a gas called carbon dioxide. Gas is lighter than water so it floats to the top, bringing some color with it from the food coloring. When the air releases from the colored water blob, the water gets heavy again and sinks.
2. Exploring Surface Tension (With Black Pepper!)
Overview: Surface tension is a foundational scientific principle that even young kids can begin to learn about. This simple experience using water, soap, and black pepper will get kids of all ages exploring this useful concept.
What You Need:
a plate or bowl
First, fill the plate with a thin layer of water, less than an inch deep is plenty. Sprinkle the pepper on to the water, covering a much of the water surface as possible. The more pepper, the more fun. Then, dip your finger into the liquid soap. Now, touch the pepper and see what happens!
What’s Happening: The soap is breaking the surface tension of the water! Surface tension exists in water because the water molecules (the littles pieces of the water) like to stick together. Water has high surface tension, which mans the molecules like the pull towards each other and stick together very strongly. But, when soap is added to it, it break the surface tension. The molecules close to your fingers are pulled away by molecules that are farther away from your finger.
3. Elephant Toothpaste
Overview: Have you heard of the elephant toothpaste experiment yet? It’s a blast! You will need an adult for this experiment. Kids of all ages will love learning about catalysts and exothermic reactions in this simple fun science activity.
What You Need:
16-oz plastic soda bottle
1/2 cup 20-volume of 6% solution hydrogen peroxide liquid
1 Tablespoon dry yeast
3 Tablespoons of warm water
Liquid dish soap
First and foremost, put on your safety goggles or protective eyewear. Hydrogen peroxide can irritate skin and eyes. As a safety precaution, an adult should always be the one to carefully pour the hydrogen peroxide into the bottle.
The next step is to add 8 drops of your favorite color food coloring into the bottle. Then, add 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap and swish the bottle around the mix the ingredients together. In a separate cup, mix the warm water and yeast together for 30 seconds. Next, pour the yeast water mixture into the bottle and watch the foam form!
What’s Happening: Each tiny bubble in the foal is filled with oxygen. The yeast was a catalyst (it helper) to remove the oxygen from the hydrogen peroxide. Because it happened so fast, it created lots of bubbles. The bottle got hot because this reaction is an exothermic reaction that created heat. The foam is made up simple of water, soap, and oxygen, so you can safely pour it down the drain. Voila!
4. Light Refraction Magic
Overview: This super simple science experiment is really more of a magic trick, and it will teach your kids all about light refraction.
What You Need:
Piece of Paper
Get a sheet of paper and draw two big arrow on it, one near the top, and one new the bottom. Make the arrow point in the same direction. Next, fill a glass with water. Slowly lower the piece of paper behind the glass of water. Look through the glass of water, and watch in amazement!
Refraction is the bending of ligh and it happens when light travels from one medium to another, like from air to water, or water to air. In this experiment, the light traveling from the paper through the air, then through the glass and into the water, and finally out of the glass and into the air one more before ever reaching our eyes. Light travels the fastest through air, and a little more slowly through water, and even MORE slowly through glass. That means that the light bends when it travels through the glass cup into the water, and then it bends again when it travels out of the glass cup into the air. The light paths actually cross and the image appears to be flipped.
In this very easy science experiment that’s perfect for young kids, you’ll need a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your household: clear soda, a glass of water, and a handful of raisins. With these simple ingredients, you’ll produce chemical reactions that your kids can watch in real time!
What You’ll Need:
A clear glass of water
Handful of raisins
First, you fill one glass with clear soda, and another glass with plain water. Then, place the raisins in each glass, and watch how they dance in the glass with clear soda. The gas bubbles from the soda carry the raisins upwards. When they pop, the raisin sinks again.
What’s happening? Once the carbon dioxide bubbles reach the surface of the soda they pop and the gas is released into the air. This makes the raisin lose buoyancy and fall back down to the bottom of the glass.
6. Sink or Float?
Kids of all ages will love this easy science experiment that builds a foundation to understanding density.
What You’ll Need:
Two glasses of water
Small items from around the house
A piece of paper and a pen
First, you fill two large clear containers with water. Then, ask your kids to gather small items from around the house in order to see if they’ll sink or float.
Before you test them, have you kids write a list of the objects on a piece of paper and ask them to predict if they’ll sink or float.
Now, test out each item, and compare it with their hypothesis! This is a great way to teach them the scientific method.
Finally, you can ask them, now that they have seen some of the objects sinking and floating, is there anything else they’d like to test?
7. Shiny Pennies
You definitely have some dirty pennies lying around your house, so let’s put them to good use in a simple and fun science experiment that even young kids can enjoy. Pennies are copper, and they are often in circulation for years (yuck!), so they often appear very tarnished. In this experience, you’re going to see if soap or vinegar (or other liquids) do a better job at cleaning the exterior of the dirty copper penny.
What You’ll Need
2 paper cups
Other liquids from around the house (ketchup, soda, etc.)
First, make some guesses about which liquid will make the penny the shiniest. Then, put each penny in a paper cup. In one up, pour in enough vinegar to totally cover the dirty penny. In the other cup, pour in enough dish soap to totally cover the dirty penny. Wait about ten minutes. After ten minutes, take the pennies out, rinse them in water, and rub them with a paper tower. Now compare the pennies and see how clean they got! Then, try it with other liquids from around the house.
What’s Happening: Pennies get dull over time because the copper on the exterior reacts with oxygen from the air. The copper and oxygen form copper oxides that make the penny dull and dark. The acetic acide in the vinegar dissolves these chemicals and leaves the penny looking new and shiny. Dish soap is great for cleaning lots of things, but it can’t dissolve copper oxides.
Overview: Got some celery in the fridge? Then you can begin to learn about capillary action with a simple and colorful color-changing celery experiment.
What you need:Celery
Glasses of water
Find a sunny spot, and fill the glasses up halfway with water. Then drop different colors of food coloring into each of the glasses. (It’s fun to put the colors in the order of a rainbow!) Next, cut stalks of celery and put them in the glasses of water. Let the celery sit for awhile. It will take a few hours at least, but pretty soon you’ll notice the leaves changing colors. You can also do this experiment with a light-colored flower.
What’s Happening:This easy experiment will demonstrate to your child how the small “vessels” in celery stalks can carry the water (and rainbow colors!) to the leaves of the celery, mimicking the way blood travels through the body.
9. Mixing Impossible
Overview: This super easy experiment involves mixing equal parts oil and water and adding a drop of food coloring to see what happens. Kids will love watching the food coloring make it through the oil. You will love how easy it is to set up and clean up!
What You Need:
Several drinking glasses
liquid food coloring
a toothpick (if you have it
First, ask yourselves what you think will happen when you mix oil and water together.
Then, pour about ½ cup of oil into a drinking glass
Next, pour the same amount of water into the same glass
Watch how the two separate from each other!
Ask what they think will happen when you put one drop of water-based food coloring into the oil
Have the child put a drop in and observe (if the drop needs encouragement to move downward, use a toothpick)
Ask again which is denser, the water-based drop or oil (the water-based drop sinks, showing it’s more dense than oil)
What’s Happening: Explain what density is. Imagine two objects that are the same size but different weights. The one that weighs more has more matter packed into it. It is denser. A good way to tell if something is more or less dense than water is to put it in water. If it sinks, it’s denser, if it floats, it’s less dense. The oil floats, showing it’s less dense than water.
4. Use a pipette or eye dropper to place a few drops of the colored vinegar onto the tray of baking soda. Watch what happens!
5. Continue exploring with other colors.
One reader said this kept her kids busy for an hour! Priceless.
11. Mini Volcanos
Overview: This super easy baking soda and vinegar volcano eruption is a real crowd-pleaser for kids of all ages, and your kids will be begging to do it over and over again! All you need is a few very basic household ingredients, and your colorful volcano will be erupting in no time. It only takes about three minutes to prep. If you want this to be a no mess science experiment, plan to do it outside on the dirt or on rocks.
3-4 Tbs of baking soda at least
1 tsp of dish soap
Food coloring (or washable paint if you want to avoid staining)
1 cup (8 oz) of Vinegar
First, combine your base ingredients by putting the water inside of the plastic cup and filling it about 2/3 full. Then add the baking soda, dish soap, and a little bit of food coloring or washable paint. Using washable paint instead of food coloring will help you avoid staining. Stir the ingredients together. Then, pour in the vinegar until it starts foaming and pouring out of the cup. Repeat as necessary with more colors. Your kids will definitely be asking for more.
What’s Happening: The “lava” bubbles that erupt are filled with carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is a gas that forms when an acid — the vinegar — reacts with a base — the baking soda.
12. Static Electricity Hair
Overview: Want to provide your kids with (literally) hair-raising good time? It’s super simple to teach your kids about static electricity with this easy, no-mess science activity.
What You need:
an inflated balloon
a piece of cloth
Rub the surface of the balloon with the cloth for at least40 seconds. Then, hold the balloon a short distance above your head and watch your hair stick to it!
What’s Happening: The balloon gains electrons from the cloth and becomes negatively-charged when you rub it together. Then, when the balloon touches you hair, it attracts your hair, which is positively charged.
13. What’s That Mystery Smell?
Overview: Kids of all ages can recognize a lot of different smells, and the process of using your senses is very important to the scientific method. In this experiment, you’ll use your senses to see how many different smells you can recognize.
What You Need:
A grown-up or friend to help
Small, lidded containers that you can’t see through
Smelly things from around the house such as bananas, an orange peel, lemons, a cotton ball soaked in perfume, chopped onion, coffee (or a used coffee filter!), rose or flower petals, pencil shavings, vanilla, vinegar, ginger, etc.
First, have a grown up put the smelly items in the containers. Write a number on the side of each container. The next step is to put your blindfold on and have them help you smell each object. Write down what you think is inside of each container.
14. What’s That Mystery Object?
Overview: The process of using your sense of touch is very important to the scientific method. In this experiment, you’ll use your sense of touch to see how many different textures you can recognize.
What You Need:
A grown-up or friend to help
A “feely” bag that you can’t see through
Small objects from around the house that have different textures, such as: a plastic bag, a water bottle, a banana, a piece of paper, a cell phone, a rubber ball, a cotton ball, a tooth brush, a washcloth, etc. Try to find objects of different materials like velvet, wool, cotton, leather, metal objects, wooden spoons or toys, pieces of aluminum foil, and other interesting objects and textures.
First, put on your blindfold. The next step is to have a grown up or friend put a mystery object in the bag for you to fell. Can you guess what each object is?
15. Sugar Water Rainbows
Overview: This science experiment is especially meant for older kids, but it can me modified for kids of all ages. Your kids will love this colorful experience about density and buoyancy, and all you need are some common household ingredients.
What You Need:
food colorings (preferably in rainbow colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)
a clear straw
First, fill each of the cups with the same amount of water. Add the food coloring, one color in each cup, preferably in rainbow order. Line the cups up next to each other. In the first cup, do not add any sugar at all. In the second cup, add one tablespoon of sugar. In the third cup, add two tablespoon of sugar. In the fourth cup, add three tablepoons of sugar, and so on. Stir each mixture until all the sugar is dissolved in each glass.
The next step is to make a sugar rainbow by placing the end of the straw in the first cup (the cup with no sugar), only about a half of an inch. Cover the top of the straw with your thumb before lifting it out of the water so that the water does not fall out of the straw. Now dip the straw in to the second cup. Now dip the straw into the second cup (1 tablespoon sugar). This time, insert it deeper so that the end is one inch below the water level. In one quick move, release the thumb and recap again. Now you should have two layers of color. Keep dipping the straw into each solution from the one with the least sugar to the one with five tablespoons of sugar. Each time, the straw is inserted half an inch deeper.
What’s happening? Density is the amount of substance (mass) within the volume occupied by the object. If two cups have the same amount of water (i.e. same volume), the one with more sugar is denser than the one with less sugar. Buoyancy is determined by relative density. The solution with less density floats above the solution with higher density. That is why the color don’t mix. Sugary water has higher density than plain water. The solution with more sugar has higher density than the one with less sugar. If you have inserted the straw in the solutions from the least sugar to the most sugar, then the color don’t mix and you have a sugar water rainbow.
16. Painted Nature
Have your child search for natural objects in nature and bring them into the “classroom” or home to closely observe and paint them. As you paint, you can discuss the natural colors and features of these objects. What is their texture? What do they notice about each object? They’ll be closely observing natural phenomena, looking for signs of life and growth, and using their senses to experience natural materials. These skills are extremely important scientific foundations.
17. Magnet Fun
First, dump out a selection of metal objects onto the table and ask your kids to help you “clean up” by using the magnets to pick up different objects and sort them into containers. They’ll learn which objects are attracted to a magnet and which are not. They will also practice skills of classifying and sorting.
18. Will it melt?
Gather a range of materials (within reason) and put them in a muffin tin. Ask your kids about how temperatures can get high, especially on hot days. Ask your kids to hypothesize about what will and won’t melt. Then put it to the test! Be extremely careful about what you put in the muffin tin so that you do not start a fire.
Overview: This colorful experiement is a super simple way of demonstrating capillary action and color mixing. Kids of all ages will love watching the color move through the paper towel on its own, and they’ll have a better idea of how plants get their nutrients.
What You need:
6 glasses or jars
Food coloring (red, yellow, & blue)
Fold six sheets of paper towel lengthwise. You may need to cut a few inches off so that it fits into the glasses well. They should go from the bottom of one jar to the next without sticking up too high in the air.
Next, fill the first glass with a generous squirt of red food coloring, the third with yellow, and the fifth with blue. Leave the other glasses empty. Then, add water to the glasses with color until the colored water almost reaches the top. Now add the paper towels. Starting with red, add once end of the paper towel and put the other end in the empty glass next to it.
After several minutes, the colored water will travel almost the whole length of each paper towel. You can watch the water do its magic for about 20 minutes!
The colored water travels up the paper towel by a process called capillary action. Capillary action is the ability of a liquid to flow upward, against gravity, in narrow spaces. This is the same thing that helps water climb from a plant’s roots to the leaves in the tree tops.
Paper towels (and all paper products) are made from fibers found in plants called cellulose. In this demonstration, the water flowed upwards through the tiny gaps between the cellulose fibers. The gaps in the towel acted like capillary tubes, pulling the water upwards.
The water is able to defy gravity as it travels upward due to the attractive forces between the water and the cellulose fibers. The water molecules tend to cling to the cellulose fibers in the paper towel. This is called adhesion. The water molecules are also attracted to each other and stick close together, a process called cohesion. So, as the water slowly moves up the tiny gaps in the paper towel fibers, the cohesive forces help to draw more water upwards.
20. LEGO Boats
Challenge your kids to build their own boat out of LEGO bricks. It’s a great way to get them thinking about engineering and design. For an added challenges, only give them a certain number of pieces. Once everyone has finished building, put the boats to the test in a tub of water. Add pennies a few at a time to see how many each boat can hold. Talk to students about how weight and design matter. Reflect on good designs and help them understand why they worked well.