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SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS
Science Experiments
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Science is a way of thinking and working toward understanding the world. Preschool and primary level science is an active process of finding out and a system for organizing and reporting discoveries. Concepts used in science grow and develop as early as infancy. Babies explore the world with their senses. They look, touch, smell, hear, and taste. Children are born curious and want to know all about their environment. As they explore their surroundings, they actively construct their own knowledge. 
 

Borax Crystal Snowflake 
Grow a snowflake in a jar during this winter science experiment from Carol W.

Materials you will need: 
* string
* wide mouth jar
* white pipe cleaners
* blue food coloring (optional)
* boiling water (with adult help)
* borax (available at grocery stores in the laundry soap section)
* pencil 

Description: With a little kitchen science you can create long lasting snowflakes as sparkly as the real ones.

1.  Cut a white pipe cleaner into 3 equal sections. Twist the sections together in the center so that you have a "six sided" star shape. Pipe cleaners and string form a snowflake base for the crystals to grow on. If your points are not even, trim the pipe cleaner sections to the same length. Now attach string along the outer edges to form a snowflake pattern.

2. Attach a piece of string to the top of one of the pipe cleaners and tie the other end to a pencil (this is to hang it from). Fill a wide mouth jar with boiling water. Mix borax into the water one tablespoon at a time. Use 3 tablespoons of borax per 
cup of water. Stir until dissolved, (don't worry if there is powder settling on 
the bottom of the jar). If you want you can add a little blue food coloring now 
to give the snowflake a bluish hue.

3.  Insert your pipe cleaner snowflake into the jar so that the pencil is resting on the lip of the jar and the snowflake is freely suspended in the borax solution. Wait overnight and by morning the snowflake will be covered with shiny crystals. Hang in a window as a sun catcher or use as a winter time decoration. 

Comments: This is an eye opening experience for the children as well as their 
teacher.

The following 2 Sink & Float activities have lots of ideas that can be incorporated into your pre-k and kindergarten science curriculum. Children extend their vocabulary, learn cause and effect and begin graphing skills during these science discovery activities.

Sinking and Floating
Sally G. uses this hands on activity to encourage observation and language skills.

Materials:
1.  Tray of water,
2.  Two containers; one labeled sink and the other container labeled float
3.  Variety of resources such as: pebbles (different sizes), twigs, fir cones, cork,
     natural sponge, metal key, plastic yogurt pot, wooden brick, different types 
     of paper and cardboard, plastic farm animals (different sizes), piece of rubber 
     matting, different types of fabrics, small china object, etc.

Description: Fill the tray with water. 
Let the children chose an object from the resources (taking turns) and place 
it in the water tray. Ask some children to place their object in carefully and 
others to drop it in from a height.  Talk about the difference this makes. 
Talk about whether the object sinks or floats. When the children have made a 
decision as to whether it sinks or floats ask them to put the object in the 
correctly labeled container.

Talk about what the objects are made from. Some objects will float for a while and then sink: why is this? What tray should an object that does this be put into?

When all the objects have been used the children can be asked if there are any 
similarities between all the objects that float and a similarity between all those 
that sink. How many sink? How many float? What is there the most of?

Comments: With pre-school children this activity works very well but could also be used for older children with more complex comparisons and discussions. Children can make their own boats to use with this activity. The boats are made as follows.

Materials:
Small margarine tubs (round or rectangular),
Clay,
Lollipop or craft sticks,
Pre-cut paper sails.

Method:
1.  Glue or tape a 'sail' to the lollipop / craft  stick.
2. Place a small ball of clay into the margarine tub.
3. Stick the lollipop / craft stick into the clay.

We also make boats using small sponge pads (like you can get for washing-up)
and pushed the lollipop / craft stick into the sponge.

Song to Sing:
Row, row, row the boat gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily life is such a dream.
Row, row, row the boat quickly down the stream,
If you see a crocodile, remember not to scream!
(all children scream at this point!)

Sink and Float Game
This second sink & float science activity is from Ava R. and begins the development of graphing skills as children place items in sink and float categories.

Materials:
2 pieces of 8 1/2 " by 11" tag board 
Various objects that will sink and float (i.e.. nail, rubber band, screw, sponge, floating soap, button, shell, paper)
Contact paper or laminating paper
Clear plastic container to hold water (I use a rubbermaid container)
Plastic bowl to hold objects

Description: In advance, mark one piece of tag board with the word 'Sink' and the other with the work 'Float', then cover both with contac paper or laminate. I put pictures of a floating object and a sinking object on mine before I laminated them.

Next, gather the children around the container of water and the bowl of objects.  Have the sink and float cards sitting on opposite sides of the container of water. 
Ask them questions about each object. Do you think it will sink or float?  Why?  Is the object heavy or light? Introduce the word hypothesis explaining that it means
a guess about what will happen.
After the children place the items in the water ask questions. How many things sank?  How many things floated? Show me something else that floats.  Can you make it sink?  What are the objects that sink made of?  What are the objects that float made of?

As the children figure out what floats and what sinks, have them put the items in the 
appropriate pile.  When finished, have them count the objects in each pile and 
tell which pile has more/less.

Comments: I also keep two washcloths nearby when I do this.  I usually put my 
sink and float signs on top of a washcloth so it will soak up the excess water.
 

Salt and Ice
Sarah G. says that with this science activity she, "Teaches children about how salt is used to help melt ice on winter roads and sidewalks."

Materials:
Bowl full of ice cubes
Yarn cut into 12" long pieces
2 cups of water (warm)
Table salt
Tray

Description: First, put one ice cube in each of the 2 cups of water. Wait for the ice cube to come to the top of the cup. Next, lay a piece of yarn on the top of each ice 
cube, with the ends hanging over the sides of the cup. Sprinkle salt over only one of the ice cubes, directly on top of the yarn (use quite a bit of salt). 
Wait a few minutes, then grab the ends of the piece of yarn and lift the cubes 
out of the water. Only the ice cube with the salt on it should lift up out of the water. The salt has melted the ice cube, fusing the yarn into it.

You can also place extra ice cubes on the tray and sprinkle with varying amounts 
of salt. Let the children guess which ones will melt first. Then observe / check up on the ice every few minutes.
 

C is for Crystal
This is not a hands on activity for children. Adults conduct this science activity from Kim B. while children observe and latter discuss the outcome.

Materials:
2 large bowls 
Water
10 tablespoons of salt
Green food coloring (or another color)
Charcoal briquettes
10 tablespoons of laundry bluing
2 tablespoons of ammonia
 

Description:
1.  Break the charcoal briquettes into large pieces 
2. Place the charcoal briquettes into the bottom of a large bowl.
3. In the other bowl, mix 10 tablespoons of dry laundry bluing with 8 
    tablespoons of water, or 10 tablespoons of liquid laundry bluing with two 
    tablespoons of water only adults handle the bluing.
4. Add 10 tablespoons of salt.
5. Add 2 tablespoons of ammonia only adults handle ammonia
6. Adults pour this mixture over the large pieces of charcoal briquettes.
7. Adults sprinkle drops of food coloring over the liquid mixture in the bowl. Try 
    different colors in different areas of the bowl.
8. Set the bowl where everyone can see it without disturbing or jarring it.
9. Have students observe the results of this mixture the rest of the day and 
    over the next several days.
10. The solution must not be disturbed. The crystals will usually grow very 
      rapidly. Be patient if you do not see the results the first day.

Comments: Talk about the shapes and sizes of the crystals. 
 

Science Fun with Water Glasses
Donna shares this classic activity saying, "The objective of my activity is for the children to observe the different sounds that each glass of water makes when you tap each one individually."

Materials: 
Five glasses
Water
Spoon or fork (metal)
Colored water (optional)

Description: In your science area, place different amounts of water in each of 
the five glasses.  Demonstrate during small group how each glass sounds different when tapped and discuss rules with this experiment such as taking turns and just tapping the glasses.

Comments: You can play songs with the glasses of water and it makes a great 
science as well as a music activity!
 

Making Spaghetti Dance
Kim B. offers a science experiment that can make spaghetti dance.

Materials:
Clear plastic jar or plastic cup
1 cup water
1 tablespoon baking soda
10 tablespoons vinegar
Uncooked spaghetti broken into very small pieces.

Description:
1. Pour 1 cup of water into jar or cup
2. Add small pieces of spaghetti
3. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and stir
4. Add 4 tablespoons of vinegar and let students observe. Ask them to describe 
    what they see. 

Results / Background: Tiny bubbles form on the spaghetti. The spaghetti rises and sinks. When baking soda and vinegar are mixed, a chemical reaction occurs and 
carbon dioxide is formed. The bubbles of gas cling to the pieces of spaghetti. 
The gas rises, taking the spaghetti with it. When the bubbles burst, the 
spaghetti falls thus the spaghetti "dances" up and down.

Extensions: Ask the kids to observe the spaghetti and see if they notice that the "bubbles" carry the spaghetti. Try more or less vinegar or baking soda. If you use a taller jar will the bubbles will take the spaghetti all the way to the top? Make a drawing of the spaghetti- very easy for preschoolers to draw. 
 

Dancing Sultanas
Preschool children explore the nature of gases during this science activity from Felicity which can be used for problem solving & predicting.

Materials: 
A bottle of soda water (really cold seltzer works best),
Clear plastic glass
Raisins - make sure you have some raisins for children to eat.

Description: Talk with children about water and soda water / seltzer - the addition of gases which make the water bubbly.
1.  Put the raisins in the clear plastic glass
2. Pour in the seltzer
3. Watch what happens to the raisins

Ask questions:
1.  How many raisins were floating at the same time?
2.  What caused the raisins to float to the top of the glass?
3.  Would this work with a glass of plain water?
4.  What causes the raisins to fall back down?

Background:  Air bubbles underneath the raisins carry them to the top of the glass. When the air escapes, the raisins fall back down to the bottom of the glass.
Any drink with bubbles in it is carbonated.  The bubbles are trapped air. The air is lighter than the water, so they travel up the glass to the top where they are released into the air.  Raisins aren't actually dancing - they travel up the glass on the air bubbles and when the bubble is released, they fall back down.

Extension: Open a bottle of cold clear soda and add a few raisins - watch them 
                   dance as the bubbles collect around them. Close the lid & they stop.
                   Why?
 

Osmosis Experiment
Young children observe the effect of osmosis on a raisin during this science experiment from Steve K.

Materials: 10-12 raisins and a glass of water.

Description: Place the raisins in glass of water over night.

Results:: The raisins swell, and become fluffy and smooth.
           WHY? during osmosis, water moves from a greater concentration through 
             a  membrane to an area of lesser water concentration. The raisins were dry 
             inside, thus the water in the glass moved through the cell membranes into 
             the raisins. As the cells filled with water the raisins became plump and 
             fluffy.

Comments: Not all the kids will understand osmosis but they will all enjoy seeing the raisins change size.
 

Instant Volcano
Ashley suggests that you try this easy volcano experiment.

Materials:
2 small paper cups
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup vinegar
4-6 drops of any color food coloring

Description: Preparation:
1.  Fill the bottom of one small paper cup with 1/4 cup baking soda
2.  Place 4-6 drops of food coloring on the top of the baking soda
3.  Poke a hole, about the size of a dime, in the bottom of the second paper cup
4.  Place the second paper cup upside down over the paper cup filled with baking 
     soda
5.  Pour vinegar into the hole until the volcano begins to erupt.
 

Lights Out!
Children have fun with science while learning about light during this preschool activity by DeAnna.

Materials:
Dark blanket
Flashlight
Various materials (plastic wrap, poster board, waxed paper, fabric, paper towels, 
                           cardboard, foil, etc.)

Description: Cover a table with a dark blanket. Explain to students that light 
can pass through some materials but not others. Demonstrate by passing the 
flashlight against several different materials to see whether light will pass 
through them or not. Then invite students to sit under the table and test all of 
the materials to see which ones will filter through the light. You can add math 
to this activity by making a chart of the results. 
 

Sense of Sight: Reflections
Children can do this simple science experiment from Maria M. when they use their sense of sight to learn about reflections.

Materials:
1.  All kinds of unbreakable mirrors; hand-held, stand-up, pocket etc.
2.  Other items in which children can see their reflections such as appliances, 
     windows, metal spoons, foil and water
3.  A piece of experience chart paper and a felt tip marker.

Description: Invite a few children (3 or 4) to walk around the classroom with 
you to find places where the can see their reflections. Talk about what a reflection is and in which shiny items children have seen themselves, such as metal appliances, toasters or toaster ovens, windows, metal spoons, foil or water. Together find examples of reflections.

Emphasize the word reflection by holding up a mirror and saying, "I can see my 
reflection in this mirror. It's ....... just like a picture of my face."  Then offer the mirror to each child to see his or her reflection.

After your classroom's reflection walk, sit with a few children and show them 
different types of mirrors. Permit plenty of time for youngsters to look into 
and investigate the mirrors thoroughly. What happens when children breath onto the 
mirror? Ask them to hold a mirror in different locations such as in front of their mouths with their mouths open, at arm's length - slightly higher than 
their shoulders, and against a corner in the classroom.

Suggest that children try to holding a mirror out a doorway while standing 
inside. What can they see now? Use a piece of experience chart paper to record 
their discoveries. Later, hang the experience chart in your science area with the mirrors for further independent investigation. 

Comments:  Some children may enjoy looking in mirrors while they draw pictures 
of themselves.
 

What Makes Mud?
Ashley introduces youngsters to the components of mud during this science and math activity.

Materials:
3 medium sized tubs
Planting Soil
Water
If using for a math activity -  measuring cups
Also a water table would be nice

Description: Teacher Preparation:
1.  Have the three tubs set out in a row (could be put in a water table)
2.  Put soil in one of the outside tubs and water in the other outside tub
3.  If using for math, put measuring cups in the dirt and water

Procedure:
1.  You could start off by reading the book "Mud" to the children
2.  Ask the children questions, "Do you like to play in the mud? How do we make 
     mud?
Option One:  Let the children play in the tubs with their hands and see what 
                    they do. Some children will mix the dirt and water on their own 
                    and suddenly get mud.
Option Two: You can be with the children helping to make mud. Have the children 
                     take the measuring cups and help them count how many cups or scoops 
                     of each they think they will need to get the end result.
3.  Talk to the children about how they made mud.
 

Here are 2 variations on the classic Rubber Egg Experiment.
Science Idea: Rubber Egg
Dawn F. offers this first experiment that can be used with a Dinosaur Theme.

Materials:
Two hard boiled eggs
A glass jar with a lid
White Vinegar

Description: Pour the vinegar into the jar to fill it until about ¾ full. Then put the hard boiled eggs into the jar and close it with the lid. Let it sit like that for about a week and a half.  In the meantime, talk about Dinosaurs and how they laid eggs. Ask questions like, "What do dinosaur eggs feel like?"  Leave the jar out where the children can observe it and then, after about a week and a half, take the eggs out. The shell that was once hard will be rubbery feeling,  just like a real dinosaur egg.

Comments: The children and other teachers were amazed and so was I because I wasn't sure it would work!  We talked about how the egg went from a hard shell to a rubber shell.
 

Rubber Egg #2
Barbara G. uses raw eggs instead of boiled eggs in her experiment. You can try both ways to find out what happens.

Materials: Vinegar,  a raw egg in it's shell, a container large enough to hold the raw egg, and enough white vinegar to cover the egg.

Description: Let the children touch the shell of the egg to see how hard it is.  Let them smell the vinegar and help pour some in the container. Gently put the raw egg in the container and make sure the vinegar completely covers egg. Have children wash their hands after pouring the vinegar.  Tell the children that when they come to school tomorrow something will have happened to the egg.

Sure enough by morning the egg's shell will have started to soften and in two or three more days it will feel like rubber and the egg will have swollen to almost twice it's size. The children will be amazed.

Comments: If you haven't seen this experiment you will likely be amazed too.
 

Old Dirty Pennies
Youngsters explore how different chemicals react with each other while developing fine motor skills during this easy science experiment by Sandra W.

Materials:
Plate or bowl
Salt
Vinegar
Old dirty pennies

Description: Present materials to children.  Ask them how they might clean the 
dirty pennies. This is a good graphing project.  Let them try using salt on a 
penny and record their reactions.  Try vinegar next, and record those reactions. 
Finally, let the children try mixing the salt and vinegar.  Again, record their reactions.  The salt and vinegar work together to clean the pennies. This activity leaves much room for open ended questions and discussion.

Comments: This activity is a good one to leave on the shelf.  You can also try 
using other dirty coins and see what happens.
 

Sprouting Acorns
Windy F. suggests this activity saying, "This is a great activity for Earth Day!"

Materials:
Paper towel
Acorns
Water

Description: In the Fall, take the children on a nature walk and have them collect acorns.  Once inside, give each child a paper towel and some acorns. Wet the paper towel until it is just dampened. Place an acorn in the center of the damp paper towel and wrap it well within the paper towel. Place in a lighted place; preferably a window.  Keep the paper towels damp by re-wetting them each day. Observe them over the next couple of weeks. They will sprout  and then they can be planted to grow a new tree.
 

Science: Gelatin Bubbles
Experiment with bubbles during the winter and explore the concept of freezing with this activity by Robin J.

Materials: 
1 quart of water
1 box of sugared Jello (for color and smell)
1/8 cup of glycerin,
½ cup Joy dishwashing liquid.  Mix well. 

Description: Procedure: Bundle up the class and head outside.  Give each 
child a wand and some of the bubble mixture.  Invite them to blow bubbles or wave their wands to create bubbles.  They should discover that these bubbles don't always pop.  Some will freeze and bounce.  Allow the children lots of time to experience the bubbles.

Variation: As an inside activity, place a small amount of bubble solution in a 
cup.  Use a straw to blow into the solution to create a mountain of bubbles.  Make sure that the children understand that they can only blow into the straw.

Extension: Try to catch the bubbles that are blown.  Have a bubble race to see 
who can cross the finish line without popping their bubble.

Background: Discuss the fact that bubbles are made of air trapped inside a hollow liquid ball.  They float up because the warm air blown inside is lighter than cool air outside the bubble.  The colors visible in bubbles come from light reflecting on the bubble's surface.
 

Growing Frogs
Youngsters observe the growth cycle of a tadpole into a frog during this long term science activity from Debra V.

Materials: Tadpoles and instructions that you can order from a science catalog.
                 Your local librarian can help with this activity.

Description: I read the book Growing Frogs with my first graders. We discuss 
the many changes that occur until a frog is  grown. Every time the students come 
to the library we observe and write down any changes we see. At the end of this 
activity the students draw pictures to illustrate the cycle of a tadpole. I am a librarian so, the entire school gets involved with this project. Since the tadpoles are on display in the library, the entire school becomes excited as we watch the progress and at the end we have mascots for the library

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