We’ve tried to make Billie’s science experiments as kid-friendly as possible, using objects and ingredients you are likely to already have in your cupboards at home. So, go ahead and make science fun for those curious minds.
*Experiments should always be supervised by a responsible adult.
Baking soda and vinegar have chemistry, and we know that these two substances react with each other because of an acid-base reaction. Baking soda is bicarbonate, and vinegar is acetic acid. One of the products of this chemical reaction is carbon dioxide, which is what makes the bubbles.
- Dirt (or other ‘hill’ making material)
- Empty 2 litre soft drink bottle (adjust measurements of other ingredients if using a plastic cup or smaller bottle)
- 10ml dish detergent
- 100ml cold water
- 400ml white vinegar
- Food colouring (a few drops of red or orange is best)
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup water, extra
- Stand the empty soft drink bottle upright, then build a dirt ‘hill’ around it so that you can only see the top opening.
- Mix the dish detergent, cold water, vinegar and food colouring in a jug then pour into the empty bottle.
- Rinse and dry the jug, then using a spoon, mix the baking soda and extra water in the jug until it becomes a slurry.
- Pour the baking soda slurry into the bottle quickly. Stand back and watch the eruption.
POTATO POWERED LIGHT BULB
A small amount of voltage is created due to the chemical reactions that take place between two dissimilar metals and the juice in the potato.
IMPORTANT: Be careful when handling the wires, because there is a small electric charge running through them. Also, Hydrogen gas may also be a byproduct of the chemical reactions in the potato, so for your safety, do not perform this experiment near open flames or any heat source.
- 1 large potato
- 2 coins
- 2 zinc-plated nails
- 3 pieces copper wire
- 1 very small light bulb or LED light
- Cut the potato in half, then make a small cut into each half (large enough to slide a coin inside).
- Using a different piece of wire for each coin, wrap some copper wire around each coin a few times.
- Stick the coins into the cuts you made in each potato half.
- Wrap some of the remaining piece of copper wire around one of the zinc-plated nails and stick the nail into one of the potato halves.
- Take the wire connected to the coin sitting in the potato half that has the nail and wrap some of it around the second nail, then stick that second nail into the other potato half.
- To make the light bulb or LED glow, connect the two loose ends of the copper wires to the light bulb or LED.
Water that evaporates from the leaves ‘pulls up’ other water molecules behind it to fill the space it left. This water movement process through tiny tubes is called capillary action. Colouring the water with food dye allows you to see the movement of water into the flower. The food dye will not harm the plant.
Option #1 Materials:
- 2 long-ish stemmed white flowers (roses, carnations, etc)
- 2 glasses of water
- 2 food dyes (colours of your choice)
Option #1 Instructions:
- Mix each colour into each of your glasses until you have two glasses of different coloured water. The stronger you make the colours the better.
- Add one flower to each glass.
- Move both of the water glasses away from direct sunlight. You should start to notice some interesting results within a couple of hours (as the coloured water creeps up the stem and begins to colour the leaves). It will take a few days for the petals to change colour.
Option #2 Materials:
- 3 long-ish stemmed white flowers (roses, carnations, etc)
- 4 glasses of water
- 4 food dyes (blue, yellow, green, red – or colours of your choice)
- Sharp knife
Option #2 Instructions:
- Mix each colour into each of your glasses until you have four glasses of different coloured water. The stronger you make the colours the better.
- Add one flower to one glass and another flower to a different glass. (You should have two colours and one flower remaining at this point.)
- Take your last flower and cut the stem lengthwise. Place one side of the cut stem in one glass and the other side into the remaining glass. This flower should now be drinking from two glasses at the same time.
- Move all of the water glasses away from direct sunlight. You should start to notice some interesting results within a couple of hours (as the coloured water creeps up the stem and begins to colour the leaves). It will take a few days for the petals to change colour.
Egg, Milk and Vinegar method
Stink bombs are an awesome prank and you can easily make one at home. The ingredients are pretty common, so you probably already have them in the house. The stench of a rotten egg and spoiled milk is disgusting, and the smell gets worse the longer you let your mixture brew.
Sneaky note: this type of bomb works best if you hide it somewhere, like under your sibling’s bed.
- Container with an airtight lid
- 1 egg
- 1 tbspn dairy milk
- 1 tbspn white vinegar
- Break an egg into the container then add the milk and vinegar.
- Put the lid on the container tightly. Be sure to seal it well to make it airtight.
- Put the container somewhere warm where it won’t be disturbed.
- Let the brew do its thing for about a week before using the bomb. (Another sneaky note: the longer you wait the more intense the stink will be.)
- Find a good spot to put the bomb, and only remove the lid when you’re ready to unleash the stench. When taking the lid off the container be careful not to get any of the mixture on yourself because it smells horrible.
Lemon juice is an organic substance that oxidizes and turns brown when heated. Diluting the lemon juice in water makes it very hard to notice when you apply it to paper, so no one will know it’s there until it’s heated and the secret message is revealed. Other substances which work in the same way include orange juice, honey, milk, onion juice, vinegar and wine.
- Half a lemon
- Cotton bud
- White paper
- Lamp or other light bulb
- Squeeze some lemon juice into the bowl and add a few drops of water.
- Mix the water and lemon juice with the spoon.
- Dip the cotton bud into the mixture and write a message on the paper.
- Wait for the mixture to dry so it becomes completely invisible.
- When you are ready to read your secret message or show it to someone else, heat the paper by holding it close to a light bulb.
More salt can dissolve in hot water than cold, so when the hot water cools in the fridge, the Epsom salts create crystals on the side of the cup. The unique shape of Epsom salt molecules makes them form long needle-like crystals, however, different crystals have different shapes, so if you’ve got a magnifying glass get it out and have a look at sugar and salt crystals.
- 1/4 cup Epsom salt
- 1/4 cup hot water (from the sink)
- Food colouring
- Small jar with a lid (optional)
- In the cup, measure out 1/4 cup Epsom salt and 1/4 cup of hot water from the sink. Stir them together.
- You must dissolve the salt, so if all the salt doesn’t dissolve, heat the cup in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and stir again.
- Once all the salt is dissolved, put a drop or two of food colouring in the cup and stir to mix.
- Place the cup in the refrigerator. Check on it every half hour or hour. Crystals should form in the bottom of the cup within four hours.
- Using a fork, scoop the crystals onto a plate.
- The crystals will last longer if you put them in a jar with a lid.
As light moves through lenses it bends. Your jelly lenses work the same way as telescopes, microscopes and binoculars.
- 1 packet of jelly crystals (light colours – lemon or lime - work better than dark colours)
- 3/4 cup of water in a mug
- Round-bottomed measuring spoons and measuring cups
- Paper towel
- Cutting board or tray
- Glass plate or bowl (clear glass)
- Heat the cup of water in the microwave for about a minute and a half until it is hot.
- Pour the jelly crystals into a bowl, then pour the hot water over the powder. Stir for two minutes to mix them together (jelly crystals must be dissolved).
- Let the jelly liquid cool for about ten minutes.
- Cover a cutting board or a flat tray with a paper towel.
- Scoop out some liquid with the small measuring spoons and cups and place them on the paper towel. Try not to spill any because the jelly will make a sticky mess.
- Carefully move your tray or cutting board to the fridge then wait four hours for the jelly to cool and set completely.
- After four hours, take the jelly out of the fridge.
- Remove the jelly from the spoons and cups, but wash your hands in the sink before you touch them because wet hands means the jelly won’t stick to your skin while you’re pulling them out.
- Add a little water to the bottom of a glass plate or bowl. Then place a jelly lens inside, flat side down.
- Move the bowl over different things to see them up close.
Oil floats on top of water because it’s not as dense as water. The food colouring has the same density as the water so it sinks through the oil and mixes with the water. When you add the tablet, it sinks to the bottom then starts to dissolve. As it dissolves it makes gas (carbon dioxide). Gas or air, is lighter than water so it floats to the top, and the air bubbles bring some coloured water with them to the top. When the air comes out of the coloured water blob, the water gets heavy again and sinks. It does this over and over again until the tablet is completely dissolved.
- A clean plastic bottle (try to use one with smooth sides)
- Vegetable Oil (or you could use Baby Oil)
- Fizzing tablets (such as Alka Seltzer)
- Food Colouring
- Fill the bottle up about 1/4 with water.
- Pour the oil in the bottle until is almost full (a funnel will make this job easier) then wait a couple of minutes for the water and oil to separate.
- Add a few drops of your favourite food colouring. The colour will sink through the oil and mix with the water.
- Break your fizzy tablet in half and drop it into the bottle then sit back and watch your ‘lava’ blobs bubble to the top.
Tip: If you have a torch at home, turn the lights off and make your room dark, then drop in another half tablet. Shine the torch light through the lava lamp while the blobs are bubbling.
SOLAR ECLIPSE PROJECTOR
One of the easiest ways to safely watch a solar eclipse is to use two sheets of cardboard and make your own pinhole projector.
Don’t do what Billie did. You should NEVER look directly at the Sun or else you may seriously hurt your eyes and even go blind.
- 2 pieces of stiff white cardboard (paper plates can be used)
- a drawing pin (can also use a sharp pin or needle)
- Take one piece of cardboard and make a tiny hole in the middle of it using the pin or needle. Make sure that the hole is round and smooth.
- Turn your back to the Sun and hold the cardboard above your shoulder allowing the Sun to shine on the cardboard.
- The other piece of cardboard acts as a screen. Hold it at a distance and you will see an inverted image of the Sun projected on the cardboard screen through the pinhole.
- To make the image of the Sun larger, hold the cardboard screen further away from the cardboard with the pinhole.
Remember to always keep your back towards the Sun while looking at a pinhole projection, and do not look at the Sun directly through the pinhole.
Whilst slime is great, fluffy slime looks more like a cloud and is softer to touch. It also creates more mess when you’re making it (depending on how crazy you go with the shaving cream).
- 4 cups Shaving Cream (this is the fluffy bit)
- Food Colouring
- 1/2 cup PVA Glue
- 1/2 tspn Baking Soda
- 1 tbspn Saline Solution
- Add 4 cups of shaving cream to a large bowl.
- Add a couple of drops of food colouring to the mixture.
- Add 1/2 cup of PVA glue and mix thoroughly.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Add 1 tablespoon of saline solution then go crazy and whip yourself into a frenzy. The slime should start to form.