Chemistry Activities

Blowing Up Balloons with CO2

Use lemon juice and baking soda to create CO2.  Demonstrate gas formation by using it to blow up a balloon.

Get instructions here on Science Kids.

Build a Battery

Batteries power many things we use on a daily basis.  If you ask someone where to get a battery, they’d say go to the store.  This site provides instructions for making a battery from fairly common household items and explains the chemistry and history of batteries. (Thanks to Ava in Ms Huber's class for pointing this site out to us.)

Get instructions here.

Copper Caper

Using salt water and vinegar, children can clean pennies in a matter of minutes. The chemical reaction involving acetic acid and salt to create the cleaning agent hydrochloric acid can be discussed. An additional experiment involves placing nails and screws in the cleaning solution after the pennies to observe the changes. Furthermore, children can learn about the reasons that pennies oxidize (and get dirty).

Experiment details can be found at Exploratorium

Eating Nails

Using breakfast cereals, a very strong magnet, water and a little patience, iron can be extracted from cereal for observation. Comparisons between types of breakfast cereal may provide interesting conversation as well. See how it's done at Sick Science.

Flour Power

After scribbling on paper with a pencil, students will use rye bread to erase the marks. Gluten, the protein found in rye bread, is sticky and can be used to clean things. It is even found in cleaning products. Experiment details can be found here

Source: Churchill, R., Loeschnig, L. and Mandell, M. 730 Easy Science Experiments with Everyday Materials.  New York, 1997. Print. Page 288.

Invisible Ink Reveals Cool Chemistry

Children can use lemon juice to write secret messages which can be brought out through a chemical reaction with a hot lamp.

See full activity here: Scientific American: Bring Science Home.

Make a Lava Lamp

This experiment uses a plastic bottle, oil, water, food coloring, and Alka-Seltzer. It can be used to demonstrate both physical and chemical properties.

Get instructions here on Science Kids.

Paper Towel Chromatography

Participants draw on a paper towel with different black pens and place the paper towel tip in water, allowing the water to separate the ink colors as the water level rises on the towel.

Source: PBS Kids. See full activity here.

Polymer Chemistry - Putty

Make a putty with simple household items. There are a few variations on this. See two of them at Science Bob and the Fleet Science Center.

Polymer Chemistry - Insta-Snow

Safe white polymer that expands up to 100 fold when wet. Inexpensive - a little goes a long way. There are many vendors. The manufacturer's site is here.

Salty Science: How to Separate Soluble Solutions

After using a magnifying glass to observe the differences between salt and sand crystals, children can brainstorm ideas to separate a mixture of the two. Warm water can be added to the solution, causing the salt to dissolve, a filter can be used to separate out the sand, and the saltwater can be heated causing the water to evaporate again.

See full activity here: Scientific American: Bring Science Home.