15 Science Experiments You Can Do With Your Kids

These boys are about to demonstrate osmosis with gummy bears.
These boys are about to demonstrate osmosis with gummy bears.
G&J Fey/iStock via Getty Images

Parents and teachers across the internet have found fun ways to teach kids science, and have documented the experiments for the rest of us. Here are 15 hands-on science lessons that will stick in a kid’s brain far longer than anything they get from a textbook.

1. Make a lemon-scented volcano

Fun Quotient: It's like the classic baking soda and vinegar volcano experiment, but it smells a lot nicer.

Teaches: The baking soda base and the citric acid create an endothermic reaction while releasing carbon dioxide in bubble form. You have to look up endothermic reaction on your own.

Find it: Fun Littles

2. Set money on fire

Fun Quotient: Wait, what? You’re burning money? Why?!

Teaches: Combustion, the process behind fire. Rubbing alcohol is flammable, but the wet, cottony dollar isn't. The fire will go out once the alcohol has been consumed.

Find it: Barefoot in Suburbia

3. Create rock candy skewers

Fun Quotient: It makes pretty rocks you can eat.

Teaches: Water evaporates, but the sugar crystals don’t. The sugar precipitates meaning it separates from the supersaturated sugar water. Seed crystals form on your stick, attracting more sugar crystals, until finally, about a week later, you got yourself some tasty science.

Find it: Science Bob

4. Build an electromagnet

Fun Quotient: Kids get to use sharp things and electricity, which is Frankenstein-level cool.

Teaches: Electromagnets are everywhere. They make motors spin, CDs play, and most modern cars run. This experiment shows the difference between a permanent magnet (the ones on your fridge) and the kind that can be turned on and off at will. When turned on, the electricity forces the molecules in the nail to attract metal, even though the nail itself isn’t magnetic.

Find it: Science Bob

5. Write a message with invisible ink

Fun Quotient: Kids can pretend they're spies sending highly classified information (not recommended in real life).

Teaches: Oxidation, a.k.a. the process that creates rust. Lemon juice is acidic enough to resist oxidation in open air, but a little heat “rusts” it right up.

Find it: Scientific American

6. Walk on eggs

Fun Quotient: Like walking on hot coals, but not as painful.

Teaches: Structure matters. No matter how flimsy an egg shell is, its shape gives it amazing strength, as long as you put the weight in the right place.

Find it: Steve Spangler Science

7. Make a tea bag rocket

Fun Quotient: Every child enjoys watching things burst into flame and fly around the kitchen.

Teaches: Hot air rises and cooler air sinks. But it also demonstrates convection current, which is the force that makes it shoot into the air.

Find it: Physics Central

8. Discover how cornstarch and water can dance

Fun Quotient: Oobleck is a mix of cornstarch and water that can act like a liquid and a solid. By itself it’s fun, but add a sub-woofer and the glop will shimmy in its container.

Teaches: Sound waves. You can’t see them, but they exist, and they like to party.

Find it: Housing a Forest

9. Create an Ivory Soap monster

Fun Quotient: You get to nuke a bar of soap until it becomes a frothy cloud of 99 percent pure mess.

Teaches: When the gas molecules trapped in the soft pliable soap get hot, they need more space. They make a break for it and take the soap with them. As the temperature of the gas increases, so does its volume.

Find it: ThoughtCo

10. Launch marshmallows across the room

Fun Quotient: Weaponized marshmallows, hello!

Teaches: Force equals mass times acceleration. A little thing going very fast will hit you just as hard as a big thing going slow. That’s Newton’s second law.

Find it: Adventure Science Center

11. Poke a "magic" plastic bag

Fun Quotient: You'll find out it's possible to poke a pencil through a plastic bag of water without spilling it.

Teaches: How polymers work. Also, on a different level, why you’re not supposed to take the arrow out of a person after they get impaled in movies.

Find it: Tinkerlab

12. Make gummy bears change shape

Fun Quotient: Deform gummy bears by dunking them in a variety of potions.

Teaches: Osmosis, and which kinds of liquids do it best.

Find it: Sciencing

13. Design an optical illusion

Fun Quotient: Animate a cartoon the old-fashioned way.

Teaches: Your eyes aren’t entirely reliable. Optical illusions occur because our brains fill in the gaps for whatever our eye isn’t processing, so two pictures become one.

Find it: Science Sparks

14. Set up a chain reaction

Fun Quotient: It’s tough to get started, but the payoff is clatter and splatter.

Teaches: A demonstration of potential energy, kinetic energy, and chain reactions.

Find it: The Kid Should See This

15. Make Molecules Move

Fun Quotient: Slow and steady wins here; kids with an artistic streak will love creating designs as the colors move through liquids.

Teaches: Why oil and water don't mix. Kids will witness how molecules of water, fats, and proteins come together and move apart in different substances.

Find it: American Chemical Society

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The Psychological Tricks Disney Parks Use to Make Long Wait Times More Bearable

© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

No one goes to Disneyland or Disney World to spend the day waiting in line, but when a queue is well-designed, waiting can be part of the experience. Disney knows this better than anyone, and the parks' Imagineers have developed several tricks over the years to make long wait times as painless as possible.

According to Popular Science, hacking the layout of the line itself is a simple way to influence the rider's perspective. When a queue consists of 200 people zig-zagging around ropes in a large, open room, it's easy for waiting guests to feel overwhelmed. This design allows riders to see exactly how many people are in line in front of them—which isn't necessarily a good thing when the line is long.

Imagineers prevent this by keeping riders in the dark when they enter the queue. In Space Mountain, for example, walls are built around the twisting path, so riders have no idea how much farther they have to go until they're deeper into the building. This stops people from giving up when they first get in line.

Another example of deception ride designers use is the "Machiavellian twist." If you've ever been pleasantly surprised by a line that moved faster than you expected, that was intentional. The signs listing wait times at the beginning of ride queues purposefully inflate the numbers. That way, when a wait that was supposed to be 120 minutes goes by in 90, you feel like you have more time than you did before.

The final trick is something Disney parks are famous for: By incorporating the same level of production design found on the ride into the queue, Imagineers make waiting in line an engaging experience that has entertainment value of its own. The Tower of Terror queue in Disney World, which is modeled after a decrepit 1930s hotel lobby down to the cobwebs and the abandoned coffee cups, feels like it could be a movie set. Some ride lines even use special effects. While waiting to ride Star Wars: Ride of the Resistance in Galaxy's Edge, guests get to watch holograms and animatronics that set up the story of the ride. This strategy exploits the so-called dual-task paradigm, which makes the line feel as if it's going by faster by giving riders mental stimulation as they wait.

Tricky ride design is just one of Disney's secrets. Here are more behind-the-scenes facts about the beloved theme parks.

[h/t Popular Science]