Get Messy with these Family-Friendly Science Experiments

Science has many benefits to kids of all ages as they plan and prepare, problem solve, explore reactions and develop resourcefulness. Watching baking soda and vinegar react can also be a lot of fun! Check out these family-friendly science experiments that will allow your kids to explore, discover and make a parent-approved mess. 

Bubbling Lava

Join Ms. Maris for this fun twist on the standard baking soda and vinegar experiment. You'll need baking soda, vinegar, dish soap and food coloring.

The Science: Baking soda is a bicarbonate (made of carbon) and vinegar is an acid. When the two combine, they react and create carbon dioxide, which causes the bubbles. With the addition of dish soap, even more bubbles are created as the reaction occurs.

Microwave Puffy Paint

Turn your artwork 3D with this microwave puffy paint experiment. You'll need baking powder, water and food coloring.

The Science: Baking powder is a leavening agent, which means it releases carbon dioxide when mixed with water and heat. Salt mixes with the baking powder to release more carbon dioxide. All of this carbon dioxide is what makes the paint puff up! When we put the paint in the microwave, the heat helps make more bubbles which make the art pop. This is the same reaction that happens when we bake! Baking powder helps our cookies and cakes stay fluffy by producing those small bubbles.

Oozing Oobleck

Is it a liquid? A solid? You’ll need cornstarch and water. You can also add food coloring to make oobleck in different colors. 

Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid, which means it acts in different ways depending on the pressure applied to it. With more pressure, like poking or squeezing, oobleck becomes more like a solid. This is because the pressure is pushing the particles of cornstarch together. When we do not use force, like if we slowly push our hand in, the oobleck will act like a liquid. When we move slowly, the cornstarch particles have time to move away from each other. It is named oobleck after the Dr. Suess book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. A perfect ratio of water to cornstarch is about 1:2, 1 cup of water to 1.5-2 cups of cornstarch.

Oily Masterpieces 

The Science: Water is made up of polar molecules, which means they have a charge to them and are attracted to each other. Oil is made up of non-polar molecules, which means they do not have a charge so they are not able to link to the water molecules. When we add salt or sugar to water, it is able to dissolve because salt and sugar are also polar molecules and can stick to the water molecules! When we force oil and water to mix, like in salad dressing, it is called emulsion. If you mix the two on your plate, you emulsified the oil and water! 

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

Join Laura and Maya for this fun - and timely - activity and make your own hand sanitizer. You’ll need aloe and rubbing alcohol.

The Science: Alcohols destroy disease-causing agents, or pathogens, by breaking apart proteins, splitting cells into pieces or messing with a cell's metabolism, according to a 2014 review published in the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews. Aloe is added to reduce the drying effects of alcohol on your skin. 

Caution: For this experiment, be careful to monitor the ingredients. Ingesting rubbing alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizers is dangerous. This experiment is best conducted with careful supervision and is best for older children. Washing your hands is still the most effective step in reducing the spread of bacteria or viruses. Hand sanitizer should only be used when you do not have access to running water.