Chemistry, physics, biology, and environmental sciences are all areas we want our kids to explore. But it needs to be fun if anyone is going to have a chance at tempting kids off the screens. So what are exciting and interesting science actives for kids?
We are highlighting 50 science activities for kids. These experiments and projects can mostly be done at home using things you probably already have, such as milk, eggs, cardboard, and glitter. These 50 science activities will encourage children to discover their world and universe.
Children’s ages and maturity widely range, and so do our 50 suggestions. You are sure to find something here that works for the kids in your life and the materials and resources you have to hand. From making paintball bombs to your own hand sanitizer, there is something for everyone.
50 Science Activities for Kids
Here are 50 activities for kids to enjoy while learning about chemistry, physics, biology, and environmental science.
Air Cannon Smoke Ring
The Air Cannon Smoke Ring project requires little more than an old plastic bottle, balloon, incense, and a match. An easy activity that creates a lot of happiness. But as entertaining as making smoke rings can be, it is actually a lesson on how vortexes are created. An instructional activity that brings much delight.
Every teacher and parent knows that making volcanoes with kids is a sure crowd-pleaser. But have you made an apple volcano? This is a fun twist on the experiment and a bit easier to clean up, too. One modification to this activity is to add a few drops of food coloring. Could create some very interesting results.
Astronomy Lesson: 6 Activities
Check out these astronomy experiments from Sky at Night magazine.
The six easy-to-do-at-home activities are:
- How do craters form?
- Measuring the size of the Sun and Moon
- How does spinning change the shape of planets?
- Measuring the size of the Solar System
- Why does Earth experience seasons?
- Why do eclipses happen?
These experiments use everyday objects such as toilet paper, cardboard, aluminum foil, ruler, and, for one, cocoa.
Learn how to balance a compass with this simple project. It will require a horseshoe magnet, modeling clay, a pencil, and a compass. In the end, you will have located the Earth’s magnetic north pole, all without having to leave your home.
On your marks, get set, release your engines…Who needs batteries or fuel when you can use balloon power? Challenge children to a race where first, they have to build the cars. Balloon cars, as a matter of fact. An entertaining way to illustrate Newton’s Third Law of Motion.
Teach kids about how sound travels by using balloons as speakers. This incredibly simple exercise is an interactive way to demonstrate the conductivity of sound. A great conversation starter about how we hear, air compression, and sound waves.
Bendy bones sounds like a Halloween party recipe, but this is actually an interactive anatomy lesson. Using chicken bones (the longer the better), a glass, some vinegar, and patience (you need this one to sit for a few days) will result in bendy bones. And while this could very well be an excellent Halloween trick, it is also a great lesson on why calcium is such an essential nutrient.
Have fun bending those bones.
Make some charming decorations for windows, doorknobs, rearview mirrors, and Christmas trees with this borax crystal experiment. This tutorial specifically designs “icicles,” but there is nothing preventing kids from getting creative. For example, they could make hearts for Valentine’s Day, stars for winter solstice, or happy angel halos (circles). The possibilities with this fun activity are wide.
Butterfly Life Cycle
Raising butterflies is a beautiful way for children to observe the cycle of life. This activity comes with a free butterfly life cycle coloring sheet and advice for raising various specifies of the species. In addition, if you live in an area where monarchs fly by, you can also take part in Monarch Watch, a citizen science program.
Changing Color Flowers
This experiment turns white flowers into different colors. It is a pretty way for children to learn the importance of a flower’s stem and how they, in a way, act like a straw. The activity requires very little to conduct: food coloring (a different color for each flower, preferably), glasses with water, white flowers, and patient children. (We wish you the best of luck with the last item.)
Circuit Flowers is a beautiful project which combines chromatography, crafts, and electricity. The results are an eye-catching centerpiece that would be the perfect decor for a children’s party. The materials are pretty easy to source, the most difficult being the LED lights and the CR2032 coin battery. The rest you probably already have, from coffee filters to clothespins. A delightful project.
Coffee Can Ice Cream
Teach chemistry and make dessert all in one science experiment with coffee can ice cream. It only requires four ingredients, but you will also need to source rock salt or ice cream salt. Aside from that, you probably already own the rest. Who knew science could be so delicious?
Compost cups is a small-scale science project which was inspired by the forest floor. To explain decomposition, nature’s own recycling process, have the children make mini composters. Then, as the cups sit in a sunny spot in your home, the kids can observe nature gradually breaking down the organic material into rich soil.
While the experiment is simple and informative, a nice addition would be to take samples and different stages and look at them through a microscope. This project would also pair nicely with the butterfly’s cycle of life listed above.
Edible Cell Model
The edible cell model is a delicious and fun hands-on science project that demonstrates the properties of a cell. It is also a wonderful birthday cake idea for any budding biologists, doctors, or veterinarians. This fun model has all the details any cell model could possibly desire, from the nucleus (cupcake) to the cell membrane (purple icing) and right down to the ribosomes (disc sprinkles). Yum.
Edible Skin Layers
Another great science cake is the edible skin layers, although this one might better suit Halloween than a birthday. Then again, there are some quirky birthday party themes out there. But this edible skin layers cake is a brilliant way to illustrate our epidermis and provide a wicked sugar rush.
Let kids make their own superhero gadgets with this make your own electromagnet project. The nice thing about this tutorial is that it provides variables for the kids to test after completing the project. This allows them to think deeper about what they’ve made and how the various components contribute to how the device works. A great project for older kids.
Egg in a Bottle
If there is an egg in a bottle, which came first: the bottle or the egg? Yes, it is possible to put an entire boiled egg inside a bottle. All that is required is a change in air pressure to overcome friction. Nonetheless, it does look like a very cool magic trick. Thus, you can teach your kid science along with skills for the next talent show.
Making your own chalk to use for your art is a satisfying experience. This clever project uses eggshells, and the resulting chalk makes vivid colors. The kids will be delighted and be eager to use it wherever they can. However, before they run off, this stuff is unsuitable for surfaces such as chalkboards and is very much an outside pavement and sidewalk substance.
Exploding Pop Rockets
At the word “explosion,” you’ll have the kids ready to do science with these exploding pop rockets. Never fear, no gunpowder is involved, but an over-the-counter antacid. This is a thrilling way to show the power of a chemical reaction. Carbon dioxide has never been so much fun.
How do you know if your breakfast cereal really has iron in it like it claims? Sure, it lists it on the nutritional label, but what if the manufacturers are lying? Well, have your kids test it following the instructions from Rookie Parenting. The activity is surprisingly simple to do, but the results are fascinating.
Find the Fat
Find the fat is a bit different from finding the iron, as there are no cool gadgets like magnets involved. The hotplate or stove is as exciting as it gets, so perhaps not a great one for smaller children. But older children might be intrigued by this experiment, especially those learning about nutrition. It is one thing to be told calories such as fat are energy; it is another to demonstrate the concept.
Flying Tea Bags
The flying tea bags experiment is another one for the talent show’s magician act. It’s a heat experiment demonstrating how the density of air changes with heat. The children will love it. (Let’s be honest, adults get a kick out of it too.) It’s simple, really: there is fire and flight, all the things needed for good times.
If you live in an area where it snows, you lucky humans because frozen bubbles are a fun winter science experiment. A wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors, even when the weather is far from cozy.
If you are brave and live in an area where it at least gets cool, it might be worth trying this with an open cooler box of crushed ice. The frozen bubble experiment requires the bubbles to land on the snow. So if you can aim your bubbles to land in the cooler of crushed ice, it might work. Be fun to at least try, yes?
Geodes from Eggs
This tutorial on making crystal geodes from eggs is a beautiful and artistic science experiment. The process is delicate, so it might not be the best project for small children. But middle-school children might enjoy this new twist on making crystals that do not, for once, involve a string or pipe cleaners.
Glitter Germs is an incredibly timely experiment that demonstrates how easily even non-airborne germs spread between people. This could be done during dinner, a picnic, or even teaching a class. We will warn you, from personal experience, that glitter is tenacious stuff, and you will be finding these “germs” for weeks to come, even on your pets.
Gravity Defying Magnets
Gravity Defying Magnets is a delightful science project for young children. It not only teaches them about gravity but also illustrates how magnets work. This demonstrates that magnets do not, in fact, have to involve the object touching them for there to be a “pull.” This provides a great conversation starter not only about our own world’s gravity but the crucial role it plays in our solar system and universe.
Green Flames is a very cool experiment that is perfect for older children. Kids love “playing” with fire, and frankly, so do many adults. Younger kids will be amazed by it, but it is best for the adult to do all the work, then, given what is involved.
If you are not a science teacher, the trickiest part is getting your hands on copper sulfate. The linked article has some suggestions of where to source it, just be sure to look up any additional ingredients found in the copper sulfate products. You want this to be the green flame experiment, not the green bomb or green poison experiment. Be safe and have fun.
Handy Movement is a wonderful anatomy project that involves no blood or gore. Essentially, children make a working “hand model” by cutting out a card template and constructing the main bones and tendons of the hand with straws and string.
So often lessons of the human movement focus on the skeletal and muscular structure of the body, overlooking the crucial role of tendons. Thus, this project beautifully illustrates how the human body is akin to a robotic marionette.
Discovery Magazine has put together five NASA Science projects that teach kids astronomy.
The five projects are:
- The Hunt for Planet Nine
- Seek Out Sungrazer Comets
- Learn About the Northern Lights
- Help NASA Search for Asteroids
- Real World Cloud Science You Can do at Home
Not only will children learn something by taking part in these activities, but they will also be helping NASA. Using volunteers is a common element in massive science studies. Many science projects around the world, from tracking butterflies and bird migrations to keeping tabs on the health of bees, rely on everyday people who simply love science. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Thermometers are their own type of magic, but now you and the kids can even make them at home with this fantastic project. The materials are simple: modeling clay, food coloring, water, a clear straw, rubbing alcohol, and a clear bottle. Put them together correctly, and the kids will have built their own functional thermometer. A fun, inexpensive, and easy project.
Instant Ice is another fun, inexpensive, and easy project. Nor do you need to live where it snows or limit this one to winter (although it would be challenging to do outdoors on a hot day.) The best part about the instant ice experiment is its dramatic result. This is sure to cause an abundance of glee for all involved.
Inflate a Balloon with Baking Soda and Vinegar
Balloons are a great source of excitement. Baking soda and vinegar never fail to bring a positive reaction from kids. Put them together, and you have unbridled joy. Inflate a balloon with baking soda and vinegar is sure to be an experiment child will want to do again and again.
Lightning in Your Mouth
Lightning in your mouth is a dead-simple science activity that brings laughter and intrigue. Besides, the experiment has a cool name. What more could a kid want?
Magic Milk was the most beloved science experiment at our house when the children were small. They’d do it for their friends, for guests, and whenever they were bored. Good times.
There are two infamous occasions, however: the time I bought fat-free milk and the time I purchased eco-friendly dish soap. Both items caused the experiment to fail for obvious reasons and created much sadness. You’ve been warned.
Magnetic Field Sensory Bottle
Magnetic Field Sensory Bottle is a project that combines the spirit of MacGyver with the stereotypical Mad Scientist. In short, it has all the right stuff to make middle school and high school kids interested. It also makes an excellent fidget toy. A crowd-pleaser, all around.
Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer
Make your own hand sanitizer is a very practical and timely science activity for our pathogen-filled world. This activity can easily be pair with an economic-type project. For example, last year, our youngest’s class was challenged to design a product and pitch it. They made and sold pandemic kits: one mask, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and a bottle of hand lotion.
Science and entrepreneur skills all in one.
Making Ricotta Cheese
Science can make the best food, and this experiment results in ricotta cheese. A delicious way to expand a child’s education. We love it.
Make Sparkle Slime
Young children adore slime. They are crazy for glitter. Sparkle Slime puts the two together to create one glorious experiment. This is also a wonderful Part I project for those wishing to do the Slime Art activity listed further down.
Olympic Flame in a Bottle
Yes, the 2020 Olympics are over, but the winter ones are right around the corner due to the chaotic world events. So celebrate these unique times in sporting history by having kids create their own Olympic flames in a bottle. The site also provides a free printable, which is handy.
Celebrate literature and science by making Oobleck, which was named after Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss. This messy science experiment is loads of fun. As the instructions explain, this goo is a non-Newtonian fluid, so it behaves like a liquid when poured but responds like a solid when force is applied. Fascinating.
Paintball bombs are an explosive way to bring science and art together. As you are probably already assuming, this is an activity that is best done outdoors. Well, the actual making of the paintball bombs involves some inside time, but afterward, shoo the young people out of the house. They’ll love it.
Sink or Float
Sink or Float is a wonderful science activity for the little ones. They’ll enjoy the water play while being introduced to some scientific theories too. It’s very sweet. Although you might want a towel or three handy in case the young ones get really into it.
Kids squish slime, and that’s nice, but slime tends to serve no purpose. This is why we love these slime art activities. It is a wonderful way to combine creativity and art while exploring the properties of slime beyond its “squish” factor. As mentioned earlier, this is an excellent activity to combine with making sparkle slime listed above. We suggest the more colors the better.
Solar Oven Project
Tell the kids they can have nachos so long as they build the oven. The solar oven project is a perfect STEM activity that teaches some science behind solar power and more. Bonus: your children might be willing to take over more dinner duty in the future. Well, so long as there is enough sun.
Sparking Steel Wool
Sparking steel wool is a great science activity for middle grades and higher. The experiment combines steel wool with the power of a nine-volt battery, bringing together electricity, physics, and chemistry. Safety is paramount with this one, so put on the safety glasses and tie that hair back. But also, have fun.
Tornado in a Bottle
Tornado in a bottle is a classic that has entertained generations of children again and again. It’s fun, easy, inexpensive, and teaches science. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Turn Milk into Plastic
No, the world doesn’t need more plastic. But turning milk into plastic creates a much more eco-friendly substance called casein plastic. This is a good bridge activity to combine science with art. After making the plastic, have the kids create a vessel or ornament with the stuff.
The volcano experiment is an oldie but goodie. When the kids were bored, we used to do this in the sink. Modifications were that we’d start by pouring salt into the drain before the baking soda. We’d also have hot water to hand to pour in after the foaming vinegar fun was finished. That’s right, while the kids were being entertained by science, we were also giving our drains a good scrub. Parenting multitask hack.
Walking water is a cute and easy experiment that brings happiness to tiny scientists. There is physics, gravity, and food coloring. Basically, it’s joy.
One of the common pitfalls of teaching children about germination is the amount of poking and “checking” children tend to do to their poor battered seed. Windowsill germination is a wonderful compromise between kids’ natural curiosity and the seed needing a bit of peace. Besides, it’s cool to see a seed sprouting on a window.