Five Science Experiments for the Holidays
Fun science experiments your kids will enjoy this holiday season and beyond.
Goo will keep the kids entertained while you deck the halls! The goo you will be making is a non-Newtonian fluid, meaning that it doesn’t share the same fluid properties as other liquids. This makes the goo pretty cool because it seems like a solid when rolling it into shapes, but then seems like a liquid when you stop manipulating it. Making candy cane goo is actually pretty simple! You will need:
Red food coloring
1 large bowl and 1 small bowl
Instructions: Grab one large bowl and one small bowl. Put one cup of cornstarch into the large bowl and a half a cup of cornstarch in the smaller bowl. Then, pour a ½ cup of water into the large bowl. For the small bowl, you will pour ¼ cup water with a drop of red food coloring. Be sure to add the food coloring to the water before you add the water to the cornstarch. (For reference: The amount of water should always be half the amount of cornstarch.) Sprinkle a little bit of peppermint extract into the bowls and then mix the cornstarch and water with a spoon or your hands until it becomes a gooey consistency. Voila—goo! Now mix the white and red goos together in a large baking pan to get the full candy cane goo effect. Cue the hours of fun.
Beautiful handmade decorations are always a plus. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or any other holiday, these colored crystal masterpieces will be sure to brighten your days. There are a few things you will need:
Popsicle sticks/craft sticks
Instructions: To get started, have your kids bend pipe cleaners into different shapes. Then, fill the glass jars with the special crystal-making solution: 3 tablespoons of Borax for every 1 cup of hot water. If you’d like to make colored crystals, you can add a few drops of food coloring to some of the jars. Tie a string around your shaped pipe cleaners and then loop the tied string around a Popsicle stick. You can then place the Popsicle stick on the top of the jar while the pipe cleaner is submerged in the crystal-making solution. Leave the jars in a cool place overnight and check on them the next morning. Look forward to some beautiful crystals inside the jars!
Save an apple before baking your apple pie to do this fun experiment! Your kids will learn that oxygen is what causes apples to brown and they’ll able to see that covering an apple will shield it from oxygen and keep it from browning. You will need:
Three small bowls
Instructions: Take the apple and cut it width-wise so your kids can get a kick out of the star shape that the core of the apple forms. Then cut three slices from the apple (and gobble up the rest!). Fill one of the bowls with water and put the first slice submerged in the water. Put the second slice in a bowl and coat it with lemon juice. Put the third slice in a bowl and leave it untouched. Check on the apples every 15 minutes to see how they change. (Suggestion: have your kids record their findings in a journal!)
Santa wouldn’t be as jolly if he forgot to brush his sweet tooth! This project is a version of Steve Spangler’s “elephant toothpaste” experiment, but with a Christmas-y twist! You are going to need:
6% or higher hydrogen peroxide (can be found in beauty supply shops)
Green food coloring
Red and green glitter
Empty liter soda bottle
Instructions: Mix one cup of hydrogen peroxide with a large squirt of dish soap, a few drops of food coloring, peppermint extract and glitter into the soda bottle. (Place the soda bottle on a large cookie sheet or baking pan to catch the toothpaste.) Then, mix the ingredients by swirling them in the bottle. Be sure not to shake it. In a separate small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of yeast with 6 tablespoons of very warm water until all of the clumps are gone. When you’re ready to make the toothpaste, pour the yeast mixture into the bottle. Foam will shoot up out of the bottle about four feet in the air very quickly, so beware of the speedy reaction. Once the reaction stops, enjoy playing in the foam!
5. Custom Bendy Candy Canes
Our last holiday experiment is less of an experiment and more of just plain old fun. With the holiday season comes an abundance of candy canes – and sometimes you may be wondering what to do with them all. Morphing candy canes into funky shapes can work as a great gift for your kids to give to their friends and loved ones or you can keep them all to yourselves! All you’ll need:
Instructions: Place 4 candy canes evenly spaced on wax paper covering a cookie sheet. Stick the cookie sheet in the oven at 250 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes. When you remove them from the oven, the candy canes will be soft and also very hot! Be careful at this stage and make sure they are not too hot before you start playing with them. Begin twisting, bending, turning and stretching the candy canes into different shapes, initials or even words.