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Simple Science With Kids On A Summer Day

A fun and easy science experiment to do with kids.


Today is a typical scorching summer day – hot sun, high humidity and no wind. Most moms face the sometimes daunting challenge of how to keep their kids entertained and/or actively learning during the summer months. I am no different and today I found myself still unpacking, cleaning and sorting lots of laundry after our family vacation. It’s the first normal day post vacation – my husband went back to work and we have nothing on our calendar for the first time all summer.

I found a simple and inexpensive science experiment which turned out to be a big hit with my kids and their two friends. I expected a mere 30 minutes of fun (tops) but it lasted almost an hour and we only stopped because we ran out of baking soda and vinegar. Sometimes it’s the simplest things kids enjoy the most. We made Bubble Bombs and Mini Volcanoes using those 2 ingredients, plus food coloring to make it more creative. Both experiments work because carbon dioxide forms when the vinegar reacts with the baking soda. That’s the science part I tried to explain to the kids.

For the Bubble Bombs, combine 1/2 cup of vinegar with ¼ cup of water in a Ziploc bag that does not leak. You can put a few drops of food coloring in the liquid if you want (my 3 year old loved this part – she chose her own colors and liked seeing the water turn colors). On a paper towel, place 1 ½ tablespoons of baking soda in the center and fold it up on all four sides. This is your time release packet. The trickiest part is placing this packet into the Ziploc bag and closing it tightly and quickly before the fizzing starts. I found that to be just about impossible. So a little of the fizz leaked out of all of our bags before we threw them on the driveway and stepped back. But the bags still gassed up with carbon dioxide and about a minute later, pop! The anticipation of the mini explosion created great excitement in our driveway.

The mini volcanoes are even simpler. Take a poster board and liberally sprinkle it with baking soda so it’s covered. We put ours in the driveway to minimize mess. Give each child a small plastic cup filled with vinegar (any amount) and let each one choose their color using a few drops of food coloring added to the vinegar cups. Then each child slowly lets the vinegar drip out onto the poster board.

Baking soda: 52 cents

Vinegar: $1 a bottle

Poster board:  32 cents

Food coloring $1.25 at Ocean State Job Lot for pack of four

Total cost: Priceless when you see the excitement on your children’s faces. Now that’s worth standing and sweating in the sweltering sun for.

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Heather Tibbitts July 18, 2012 at 12:51 AM
If you can find 35mm film canisters, you can also use this process to make rockets. Have the kids roll construction paper around the canisters for a tube and add a paper cone for a top. Turn your rocket over, add vinegar, and then drop in your baking soda packet. The trick is to get the cap back on, turn the rocket upright, and set it on the driveway before it launches. I found a little salt delayed the reaction long enough - if you are quick.
Sharon Siedliski July 18, 2012 at 05:22 PM
That's where the poster board came in handy - just roll it up and throw it away. Thanks for reading :)
Sharon Siedliski July 18, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Thanks for the salt tip. We will have to try it using the canisters. Thank you for reading!
Jillian Preble July 18, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Or just go for it and make a paper mache volcano to make erupt. I made it with a pre school class. Driveways, sandboxes, or places it in a huge storage box helps with the mess. It's a week long fun messy summer project. : )
Shannon MacDonald July 21, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Thanks for the idea. I struggle for good science activities with my preschool class!

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