7 Kitchen Science Experiments Kids Love
You can do all kinds of fun science projects in the kitchen. The ideas here will come together with things you have on hand, so get ready for plenty of aha moments!
Make Marbled Milk
For this experiment, you’ll need 2% or whole milk, food coloring, liquid dish soap, a glass dish and toothpicks. Pour the milk into the dish. Then, add a few drops of food coloring. But don’t stir! Dip the toothpick into the dish soap, then into the milk. Use the toothpick to swirl the colors. (Check out these brilliant uses for toothpicks around the house too!) You should see the colors run all over the surface of the milk.
Remember, you can’t drink this milk. Snack on one of these rainbow recipes instead.
Clean Pennies with Pantry Ingredients
This will help kids start to understand chemical reactions. You’ll need a few dirty pennies, 1/3 cup white vinegar and a teaspoon of salt. Put all the “ingredients” in a small glass bowl and stir. Count to 60, then rinse. Your change should be shiny! The acetic acid in vinegar dissolves dark copper oxides and leaves each penny looking as good as new. Find more ways vinegar can work magic at home.
Create Rainbow Columns
Learn about density with this rainbow experiment. You’ll need sugar, water, five glasses and four food dyes. Line up four of the five glasses and fill each with exactly 45 mL of water. Then, use a couple drops of food dye to make each glass of water a different color. The next step is to add the sugar in order of decreasing density (4 tablespoons, 3 tablespoons, 2 tablespoons, 1 tablespoon) to each glass.
Start with the glass that is the most dense (the one with 4 tablespoons of sugar). Use it to fill the empty glass one quarter of the way. Add the other solutions in order of decreasing density (3 tablespoons, 2 tablespoons, 1 tablespoon). Done carefully, you should have four different, expertly separated layers!
Psst: The best way to add each layer is to turn a spoon upside down (curved side up) so the water slowly drips in from multiple sides.
Find out Why Salt Melts Ice
Why does salt melt ice? Here’s how it happens. Simply fill a glass with three to four ice cubes and dip a string inside. You’ll notice nothing happens. Then, sprinkle some granular salt, keeping the string in the glass (touching the cubes). Pull the string out. You’ll notice that a few ice cubes will temporarily stick to your line!
The salt thaws the outer layer of the ice cube. Then, when the salt moves past, the cubes will re-freeze, trapping the string next to the cube. Here’s how to keep your ice cubes from sticking together.
Make Invisible Ink
Time to get top-secret. Ingredients such as vinegar, white wine, milk, citrus or onion juice can double as heat-activated invisible inks. Write a message on a piece of paper with your chosen ink.
Let the paper dry. To see the message again, hold it up to a heat source—a hot light bulb works best so as not to burn the paper. Your hidden message should appear!
Use this trick to make treasure maps for your next party (and munch on some of these treats).
Watch a Plant Eat
Putting vegetables in food dye shows you exactly how plants work at a cellular level. You’ll need romaine lettuce, food dye and a cup of water. Cut off the bottom of a lettuce leaf. Place it in dyed water and check back in over the next two days. Plus, check out the indoor plants that are practically invincible.
Editor’s Tip: Darker dyes are easier to see than lighter colors.
Do Another Penny Experiment
This is another surface tension experiment. It teaches how strong surface tension forces are; specifically, with water molecules. You’ll need a coin, medicine dropper or pipette, and water. Lay the coin down flat. Drop water one droplet at a time onto the coin’s surface and count how many drops you can fit before the water spills over the side. It’s more than you expect, right? Or put a penny to work by fixing wobbly furniture.