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

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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Taco Bell Quarterly, a Taco Bell-Themed Literary Journal, Exists—And You Can Read It Online

What does the Crunchwrap Supreme have to do with queer politics? A lot, actually.
What does the Crunchwrap Supreme have to do with queer politics? A lot, actually.
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Taco Bell

In August 2019, writer and “Editor Grande Supreme” MM Carrigan launched the first edition of a free online literary journal called the Taco Bell Quarterly. It wasn’t a publicity stunt—in fact, it wasn’t affiliated with the fast food chain at all—but rather a quality collection of Taco Bell-themed literary musings that ran the gamut from satirical to totally serious.

According to Food & Wine, about 1500 people downloaded that first issue, and viewership grew to 40,000 for the second issue, which was released in February 2020. The Quarterly is gearing up to launch Volume 3 in September, and it promises to be the most zeitgeist-y edition yet.

“Volume 3 will be very much informed by the state of the world. The pieces we're gravitating toward are foreboding, existing on the precipice of an alternate history in which we might have prevented the pandemic," Carrigan tells Mental Floss. “People think we're a joke, but this will be the issue that proves we're not. Writers are taking chances in writing in our magazine that I don't think the literary world has seen in a long time. We're writing with radical sincerity.”

Capturing the cultural atmosphere of this year through Taco Bell-related poems, essays, and short stories might seem like a tall order, but the Quarterly is no stranger to tackling tough topics. While some early pieces are silly and upbeat—take Alana Saltz’s poem “Ode to Nacho Fries,” for example—others use Taco Bell as a backdrop for deeper musings about “homelessness, suburban dread, poverty, American identity, and so much more,” as Carrigan told Food & Wine.

Carrigan chose Taco Bell as the journal's unifying thread because, to put it plainly, it was the first idea that popped into her head.

“Brands are a symbiote that live in our brains. We're telling that story,” she says. And, as far as brands go, Taco Bell's offbeat, innovative menu items and neon beverages are more “seductive” and “daring” than McDonald's classic Big Macs and smiling clown mascot. In other words, the subversive fast food chain is the perfect theme for an online journal that aims to subvert people's stereotypical understanding of “The Writing Life,” which Carrigan describes as a “journey of MFA programs, writing retreats, [and] rubbing elbows at conferences.”

As interest in Taco Bell Quarterly grew, Taco Bell itself began to take notice, and Carrigan says the company has sent the team hundreds of dollars' worth of free tacos as an unofficial "thank you" for all the free advertising. She distributes them to writers whose work has been rejected by other literary magazines.

While you wait for Volume 3 to hit the internet this fall, catch up on the first two volumes on the Taco Bell Quarterly website here.

[h/t Food & Wine]