My son had his birthday over the summer. Because of COVID, this meant that he, like many others, celebrated his birthday in quarantine. He wanted to do nothing else but a bunch of science experiments for kids to do at home. Scrolling through Pinterest together, I realized every single experiment he wanted to pin had something in common: explosions.
This might sound daunting, but I assure you, it’s all super safe albeit a little lot messy. It was definitely out of my comfort zone, but once I got my hands in it, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Plus, the laughter and joy on my son’s face made it all worth it. We also learned a few things on the way! Here are 8 simple explosive experiments you need to try with your kids. For your sanity, I listed the experiments in order from least to most messy. You’re welcome.
Of all science experiments for kids to do at home, this is the least messy. It is contained in a glass, but it will have your child mesmerized! Simply fill a glass half-way with water and add food coloring of your choice. Stir it up. Then, fill the rest of the glass with vegetable oil. Have the child drop an Alka-Seltzer tablet into the glass. The Alka-Seltzer reacts with the water droplets to make carbon dioxide, causing them to rise to the top of the glass. When the reaction stops, your child can throw another tablet in and watch it all over again!
Baking Soda and Lemon Juice Tray
Spread baking soda across a tray (we used a cookie sheet). Pour drops of food coloring and soap around the tray. Don’t worry about mixing it up. Let your child squirt lemon juice drops onto the baking soda. The bottled kind of lemon juice works well for this. The citric acid of the lemon juice will react with the baking soda creating carbon dioxide. The soap will trap the gas causing more fizz!
Let your child mold a volcano out of playdough around a small cup or container on a plate. Pour some vinegar through the top of the playdough volcano into the cup along with your child’s food coloring of choice. Pour a tablespoon of baking soda into the volcano. When your child is ready, let him or her pour the colored vinegar into the volcano with the baking soda. The vinegar reacts with the baking soda to produce carbon dioxide and since out the top is the only place for it to go, that’s where all the action happens!
There are a few variations of this experiment on the web, but we chose to do the simplest one that is safe for the kids to mess around with. Place an empty water bottle on a tray. Measure half a cup of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and pour it into the bottle along with a big squirt of dish soap. Swish gently to mix. In a separate bowl, mix a tablespoon of yeast with three tablespoons of warm water until pasty. Pour the yeast mixture into the bottle, quickly remove the funnel, and stand back! The hydrogen peroxide reacts with the yeast, producing a gas that gets trapped by the soap. The result is a foamy reaction that spills out from the top of the bottle! Though it resembles toothpaste, DO NOT attempt to use it as such.
Ivory Soap Explosion
This was the simplest of all the experiments we tried! All you need to do is place a bar of Ivory soap on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for two minutes. Just make sure the plate is large to prevent any spillage. I have never heard my kids squeal with so much delight staring at the microwave! After letting the soap cool off, we let them play with the exploded soap and feel its flakey texture. Though this is technically a clean experiment (it is soap, after all), it is probable that you’ll need to clean your microwave afterward.
You’ll want to take this experiment outside. Fill a tissue with a tablespoon of baking soda and fold it so that it’s packaged like an envelope. Fill a zip-lock sandwich baggie with a half cup of water and a fourth of a cup of vinegar. Seal the bag, but leave enough room to drop the tissue in. Drop the tissue into the bag and quickly seal up the rest of the bag. Give it a little shake and step away. The baking soda and vinegar will react and produce carbon dioxide, inflating the bag and, eventually, bursting it!
This is experiment is similar to the last one, but it uses the force of the explosion to propel a rocket up to 20 feet in the air! You’ll need a 2-liter bottle outfitted with a stabilizer. We snapped together markers and used duct tape to secure them to the top of the bottle. Make sure they are all even and leave enough room at the spout so that when it’s upside down, it is stable without the spout touching the ground. You’ll also need something to secure the spout. You will not want to use the original screw-on lid for this experiment. We used a cork that was thick enough to secure the top. Fill your bottle with a few inches of vinegar, take your baking soda-filled tissue and slide it into the bottle, but hold it at the spout. When placing the cork over the spout, secure part of the tissue around the cork so that you’ll have enough time to secure the bottle and turn it over before the reaction starts. Give it a little shake, flip the bottle cork-side down, and step away! The force of the gas will shoot the cork out and propel the bottle up into the air. We went through a whole bottle of vinegar and baking soda doing this again and again!
Diet Coke and Mentos
Have you really lived if you haven’t tried the Diet Coke and Mentos trick? This is one of the classic science experiments for kids to do at home! Just a 2-liter of Diet Coke and a sleeve of Mentos is what you need. Don’t do this one indoors unless you’re up for mopping your ceiling. Just open up the bottle and slide the Mentos out of the packaging and into the bottle of soda. You’ll want them to drop in quickly one after another. Then move away quickly and watch in amazement as the foamy soda shoots out the top!
Do you have any good science experiments for kids to do at home? Share them in the comments! And now that you’re all messy, why not try a “No Rules Night?”