Category: 10 Minute Science

Fun science ideas you can set up and do in under 10 minutes.

How to make Fizzy Old-Fashioned Lemonade

How to make real old-fashioned lemonade from scratch, that really bubbles! Fun edible (or drinkable) science project for kids.

Make your own Fizzy Lemonade - a tasty science project for kids. GSK

I’ve been wanting to make homemade lemonade with the kids for AGES! It’s one of those classic “must-do” childhood activities, and if you make yours with an acid-base reaction like we did, it also doubles as an impressive & tasty science demonstration.

There are different ways you can add bubbles to (or carbonate) drinks. One way is to use something like a soda stream which forces carbon dioxide gas (Co2) from a pressurised cylinder into drinks, making them fizzy. Another way is to produce an acid-base chemical reaction, which creates the carbon dioxide from within the drink. That’s what we’ve done with our homemade lemonade recipe here. And the best bit is that our recipe doesn’t require a fancy soda stream machine – it uses common pantry items that you probably already have at home.

We’ve played around with acid-base chemical reactions in the kitchen before, like when we made Anzac biscuits, or our Violet Crumble honeycomb bars, and let’s not forget our homemade sherbet! There’s something so impressive about watching things froth up and bubble, especially when you get to taste them afterwards.

Our lemonade recipe will taste a little different to the store-bought lemonades that you might be more used to. Fair-warning that the baking soda does have a slightly soapy after-taste. But if you add enough sugar (!), and if your kids enjoy the process, then the results are certainly impressive and memorable . We made two glasses of lemonade, (reducing the quantity of baking soda in our second glass, until we found our ‘sweet spot), and my kids are asking to make more today, so I think that means it was a winner.

Drinking homemade lemonade

Suitable for

Tasty science is fun for any age! You could try this from preschoolers through to primary school aged kids – Bumble Bee was 7.5 years old when we did this at home.

Younger kids will be fascinated by all the bubbles in this demonstration, and it can start to develop their understanding of acid base reactions, and that ‘chemicals’ can occur naturally and be useful in cooking!

Older kids might like to turn this into an experiment (perhaps by studying the effect of varying the baking soda quantities) using the scientific method: form a hypothesis, create a fair test, by changing just one variable, and record results. They can share their findings in the comments below!

How to make fizzy lemonade - a tasty kids science project

Please note…

Mixing together pantry ingredients is a safe and fun way to explore chemical reactions with kids. The ingredients used here are all generally taste-safe, however, please don’t let kids eat baking soda in its concentrated form (ie, don’t let kids eat plain baking soda by the spoonful please). Baking soda is OK to taste once it’s with the other ingredients in the lemonade.

Kids knife skills vary – use your own discretion as to whether you would like your child to try using a sharp knife, or if you would like to pre-cut the lemons for them.

All kids’ activities on this blog require attentive adult supervision. Parents and carers will need to judge whether a particular activity is appropriate their child’s age and skill level. Click here for more information.

How to make old-fashioned lemonade that really fizzes

How to make Old-Fashioned Lemonade

Read More How to make Fizzy Old-Fashioned Lemonade

Zooming Hearts

Zooming Hearts – a fun Valentine’s Day science activity kids love!

Zooming hearts science activity

This is such a cute and fun science activity for Valentine’s Day (or any day)! Can you make a paper heart zoom? If you’re sneaky with the dipping part, you can also make it look like a cool party trick and amaze your friends. Science magic!
 

Suitable for

This activity is fun for a bunch of age groups, from preschoolers to grade school kids. Jewel is 9 and Bumble Bee is 7 in the videos below – they can easily do all the elements without help, but they still found it fun!

How to make a heart zoom

Read More Zooming Hearts

C is for Catapult!

How to make (and test) DIY craft stick catapults! Fun catapult STEM project for kids, that combines physics, engineering and math with play.

Catapult STEM - how to make DIY craft stick catapults

Making catapults is one of those classic STEM activities that are so much fun.

Y’all know what a STEM activity is, right? STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and a great STEM activity is one that incorporates two or more of these pillar subjects, in an open-ended, lets-find-out, hands-on kinda way.

Making catapults involves three of the four pillar STEM subjects – there’s the whole projectile, forces, physics thing (Science = tick!), creating a machine and evaluating different designs (Engineering = tick!) and measuring the height and distance of your projectiles (Maths = tick!).

So I’m pleased to present this as the C is for Catapult submission in this year’s A-Z of STEM Activities for Kids series that Little Bins for Little Hands is running. (We also submitted a Why STEM for Girls is So Important post to that series too – because that’s something that we tend to be a bit passionate about around here!)

Anyway, I digress.

We’ve made easy upcycled catapults before (which were so much fun!). But this time, I thought we’d try making classic craft stick catapults – mostly because I’ve been wanting to make some for ages and ages and ages.

Launching a DIY craft stick catapult
Read More C is for Catapult!

DIY Heart Shaped Bubble Wand

Fun science project for Valentine’s Day! How to make a heart-shaped bubble wand, and encourage some learning about bubble physics with play.

How to make heart shaped bubble wands, and some fun bubbles science for kids

We’ve been having  so much fun making bubble wands in different shapes lately, we thought we’d try again, with heart shaped bubble wands this time. Bubble fun!

Suitable for

I’ve yet to meet a child that doesn’t like bubbles! Babies and young toddlers are usually entranced with the bubbles themselves, rather than the implement used to make them, so I recommend this activity is for the preschooler and kindergarten / early primary school age group. Older kids might enjoy making their own versions. Either way, be sure to ask them to predict what shape the bubbles will be, and then let them experiment to find out if their hypothesis was correct!

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How to make a Heart Shaped Bubble Wand (or two)

We used:

Materials to make heart shaped bubble wands

We made two heart bubble wands (because I have two daughters, and life is just easier when there’s once each), but you could make as many as you like. Once you have all your materials ready, it only takes a minute or two to make each one!

I started by creating a loop in one of the pipe cleaners, twisting to create a rough oval, leaving about 2 inches on the ends. I threaded on pony beads (purely for decorative purposes), and then wound the ends of the pipe cleaners tightly around a chopstick to act as a handle.

Adding pony beads and a chopstick handle

As an optional extra step, I added red tape around the handle to secure the pipe cleaners in place.

Adding tape to reinforce the handle

(We’ve made pipe cleaner bubble wands without the tape before, and they still work. It just means kids have to be a bit more gentle when waving the wands around, lest the pipe cleaner falls off the chopstick. If it does fall off however, it only takes a second to put it back on…)

And lastly, I bent the oval into a heart shape. And then I started again to make a second one!

DIY Heart Bubble Wands

How to make DIY heart shaped bubble wands, and some fun bubbles science for kids

Do they work? Do they create heart shaped bubbles?

That’s the big question! What’s your hypothesis? Now test and see if it’s true!

Fun Bubble Science Facts

Our (store-bought) bubble mix is made up of (mostly) soap and water. The soap makes the surface tension of water weaker than normal, and also forms a very thin skin (or film) that is flexible, perfect for making bubbles.

Bubbles are actually a film of soapy water with air trapped inside. There are two forces occurring here: the air inside the bubble is pushing out, whilst at the same time, the soapy film is pushing in. To balance these forces, the soapy film assumes the smallest surface area it can, and that shape (in the absence of other forces) just happens to be a sphere. Therefore, in the absence of other forces, bubbles that float in air are always round, regardless of the shape of the bubble wand used.

We’d done this experiment before, so Jewel used her prior knowledge to predict the bubbles would come out round, even though our bubble wand is heart shaped. This time however, she experimented with the force of her breath, and worked out that a slow gentle breath will create one or two bigger bubbles, whereas a more powerful fast breath will create a stream of smaller bubbles.

Blowing bubbles with the DIY heart bubble wand

Blowing bubbles with a homemade heart bubble wand

She also thought she would be extra tricky, and see if she could create a heart shaped bubble within the bubble wand itself. And look, she did it!

A heart shaped bubble!

Can you make a heart shaped bubble

It’s heart shaped on one plane and round on the other – how’s that for awesome!

Jewel is learning that science is fun, you can replicate a science experiment with slightly different variables to test how this changes the results, and bubbles are fun in all sorts of shapes and sizes!

DIY heart bubble wands

For more bubble science fun, you might like our other bubble science posts. Each post how to make a cool new DIY bubble wand, and you can also see the progression of the girls’ bubble knowledge over time. They’re playing AND they’re learning!

You can find more physics fun on our physics activities for kids page too.

And you might like to follow our  Go Science Kids and Fun Science for Kids boards on Pinterest.

And, of course, you can always subscribe to our newsletter, to receive all our latest activities straight in your Inbox. We’d love to have you join us!

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‘Magic’ Drawing with Refraction of Light: an art meets science activity for kids

How to ‘magically flip’ drawings using refraction of light. Fun art meets science activity for kids.

Create magic drawing with refraction of light - fun art meets science activity for kids

This is a fun ‘magic’ science trick that even little kids can do.

Draw two arrows, both pointing the same way, and then look at one (or both) through a glass of water. Which way are they pointing now? Does it matter how far away the glass of water is? What happens if you move your head from side to side?

Suitable for

This activity is fun for 5-6 year olds. (Younger kids can certainly have a go too, but they don’t seem to be as amazed as the school-aged crew are.)

Thumb image flipped due to refraction

You can do this science experiment almost anywhere. I love that it’s one of those activities that takes just a few minutes to set up and do, although you can spend more time on it if you want to. It’s also practically free as well, as it uses only common everyday items.

We’ve done this experiment a couple of times when we’re at a restaurant with the kids, as a way to keep everyone entertained while we wait for the food to arrive….

Drawing of a girl with 'magic' eyes due to refraction of light

What you need:

  • glass of water
  • paper (or paper napkin works if you’re at a restaurant)
  • pen

Draw something on a piece of paper, and see how it looks when you look through a glass of water. You don’t have to limit it to arrows! Be creative! You can draw anything you like and see how it looks through the glass.

Questions to ponder: How does your picture change? What bits stay the same? Does image size matter? What happens if you try with a wider (or narrower) glass? What happens if you move the glass closer to the image? Or further away? You could use a ruler to measure the distances and record your results. Does it change if you look at it straight on or slightly from the side?

A fun idea is to draw a picture of a face, with the eyes looking one way, and see which way the eyes are looking when you look through the glass.

Magic eyes drawing using refraction of light through a glass of water

Can you change the variables around so that the girl is looking at herself?

Magic drawing with refraction of light - fun art meets science activity for kids

The more creative you are, the more this activity becomes a STEM + Art, or STEAM activity. STEAM is a way to link art into STEM activities, which is a great way to make STEM subjects fun and relevant for young kids, especially those who are creatively inclined.

JJ drawing a girl and then seeing it change due to refraction

Once you’ve played around with it for a while, can you start to guess (hypothesise) how you think a picture might look given particular variables, and then look through the glass to check if your hypothesis was correct?

Art and Science - flipping drawings using refraction of light

Fun Science

What we are seeing here is a physics concept called refraction, or the bending of light. When light passes through transparent objects (in this case, the front of the glass, the water, and the back of the glass), it refracts or bends. When the glass is full of water, it acts as a cylindrical convex lens, and produces an inverted image. The inverted image may appear larger, smaller or the same size, depending on where you position the paper, the glass, and your viewpoint. Another variable is the size (diameter) of the glass.

Fun art meets science activity - flip drawings using refraction of light
 
This is post is part of the 28 Days of Hands-On STEM Activities for Kids blog hop, hosted by Left Brain Craft Brain. This week’s theme is STEM on a Budget. Pop over to find loads more budget friendly STEM (and STEAM) ideas!

28 Days of Hands On STEM

STEM Challenge: Can you build a 3D structure?

STEM Challenge. Building 3D structures.

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We’re joining in again for the second week of the 28 Days of Hands-On STEM Activities for Kids, and this week’s theme is STEM Challenges! (In case you missed it, last week’s theme was STEM Goes Green and we made this upcycled catapult.)

This is our first try at doing a ‘stem challenge’. I wanted to come up with an idea that would be age appropriate for my five and a half year old daughter Jewel, as I was worried that something too difficult would drain her awesome enthusiasm-for-all-things-science that she has going at the moment. After a lot of thought (and a little bit of inspiration from Jamie’s kid-made abacus), the STEM challenge I decided to give Jewel was: can she build a 3D structure of her choice, using just straws and pipe-cleaners (and scissors, to cut the straws and pipe-cleaners to length, if required).

The first thing Jewel asked was, “What’s STEM?” Read More STEM Challenge: Can you build a 3D structure?