5 top tips: science experiments to try at home

A bowl of cornflour paste dyed purple with food die being stirred by a spatula with food dye and other bottles in the background

Let out your inner investigator with these 5 science experiments to try at home, brought to you by science teacher Kirstie.

It’s a bit of a strange situation we find ourselves in lately, and without all our normal activities to keep us occupied we need to get creative! While we’re in lockdown our wonderful staff are sharing their 5 top tips of things to do, whether it’s a new way to experience old favourites, or the chance to try something completely novel.

Today’s tips are a way to explore chemistry, biology and physics with some simple kitchen experiments.

Kirstie says: ‘There’s loads to be curious about even in your own home and with just the equipment from your own kitchen. Here are some of my favourite ways to play with science. Make sure you get permission from an adult, and adult help where hot and sharp things are involved though.’

1. Cornflour Slime

You need: cornflour, a bowl or mug, water, a teaspoon, food colouring (optional), newspaper (advisable). Mix together some cornflour and water.

When you get the proportions of flour and water right you have created a non-Newtonian fluid. That means when you stir it slowly it behaves like a liquid, but if you stir it quickly, or squeeze it hard with your hand it’s like a solid. Try jabbing the surface of your mixture fast with your finger. Then gently put your finger in so that it touches the bottom of the bowl. Now try to pull your finger out quickly. How cool is that?!

2. Balloon Blow Up

You need: a balloon, an empty bottle with a neck narrow enough for your balloon to fit over it (a 2l fizzy drink bottle or wine bottle both work well), two large bowls, or sinks, hot water, ice.

Put very hot water in one bowl and iced water in the other. Stand your bottle with the uninflated balloon over the neck in the hot water for a while, then transfer it to the iced water.

3. Dancing Raisins

You need: fizzy water or lemonade, raisins, a tall glass. Fill your glass with fizzy water to within a couple of cm of the top. Drop in 2 or 3 raisins. Watch and enjoy.

4. Curling Dandelions

You’ll need: the stem of a dandelion flower (it doesn’t matter if the flower is out or has already turned into a ‘clock’), scissors or a sharp knife and a chopping board (get someone to help you if you are not used to using these), two small cups or glasses, water and salt.

Get rid of those pesky weeds from your garden whilst experimenting. The instructions are on this set of slides.

5. Orange Peel Flamethrower – Adult supervision required!

You need: Orange peel (other citrus fruits are worth trying), a candle and definitely a supervising adult!!

Light your candle. Take a piece of orange skin about 3-4cm2. Hold the shiny orange side of the peel outwards and towards the candle flame. Sharply squeeze the peel so the white pithy sides come together.

Happy experimenting, everyone!

We hope you’ve found these top tips helpful, and we’d love to hear your top tips via facebook and twitter. We’ll be sharing more tips over the coming days.

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