The Best 6 Halloween Science Experiments for the Whole Geeky Family

Dry ice Bubble 2Halloween is a time for dressing up in scary costumes and eating awesomely bad foods, but it’s also an opportunity to do some learning!

A little while back we presented 6 science experiments you could easily do with your little geeks to have fun while teaching them a thing or two about how this world works. Well, we’re back with an all new entry in the series: the Halloween Edition!

These 6 easy and affordable experiments are designed to get your little guy or gal more interested in science by combining the wonders of chemistry and physics with the magically ghoulish spirit of Halloween.

Our Favorite 6 Halloween Science Experiments

6. Bite of Lightning

Candy Sparks 2

(Photo Courtesy: Web Exhibits)

This one’s an oldie-but-goodie. Probably every geeky parent reading this right now has, at one time or another, turned off the lights and taken a big bite of Wintergreen Lifesaver to see the sparks fly. But do you know what’s happening to create that spark between your teeth?

Follow the directions below with your little Halloween scientist, catch lightning in your mouth, and then be one of the few cool moms or dads out there that can actually explain the reasoning behind the magic.

What You Need

  • 1 Room without light
  • 1 Mirror
  • 1 Roll of Wintergreen Lifesavers (cause you know you’ll want to do this more than once!)

What You Do

  1. Be sure that where you are is perfectly dark, with no light sneaking in under a door or through a window (holing up in the bathroom with a towel blocking the space beneath the door is perfect).
  2. Have the one conducting the experiment face a mirror (another great reason to use the WC).
  3. Chew the Lifesaver with an open mouth.
  4. Watch in wonder as the lightning flies!

Did We Learn Anything…?

Aside from being a neat party trick, the Bite of Lightning does teach a bit about chemical bonds and electric connectivity. You see, when we crush certain substances between our teeth (or with a tool), the bonds between the molecules that make up that substance are destroyed. This always results in the release of energy, which can come in many forms.

With these particular candies, it’s the Wintergreen oil’s bonds that, when broken, creates the release of LIGHT energy. So the blue flash you see is less magic than it is a natural consequence of chemical bond-breaking.

But I’m sure your little geek will agree that that doesn’t make it any less awesome!

5. The Bag of Magic Zombie Blood

Zombie Blood

(Photo Courtesy: Geek Alerts)

This is a simple trick but one that your kid is bound to find endlessly fascinating. Goodness knows they’ve probably done their fair share of spilling drinks around the house (and the school and the yard and the restaurant and…), so they’re used to this particular cause and effect.

But wait until they get a load of the bag of magic zombie blood and how it doesn’t spill, even with ten holes poked through it!

What You Need

  • A quart- or gallon-sized “Ziplock” baggie
  • Water
  • Green Dye
  • Wooden Shish Kabob skewers

What You Do

  1. Mix the green dye with the water (you can do this before getting your kid in the room if you want to pretend it’s actually zombie blood)
  2. Fill the baggie with the blood and close it up tight
  3. Poke the sharp end of the skewer through the bag of blood (avoiding areas with just air inside)
  4. See how many you can get into the bag and watch in amazement as nary a drop is spilled!

Did We Learn Anything…?

Yes, we sure did: zombie blood is filled with many magical qualities that have nothing to do with passing on a flesh-eating, apocalyptic infection. But that’s a no-brainer, right? RIGHT? Heh… But the real lesson here is about the elastic nature of plastic’s molecules.

You see, what happens is that the polymer plastic’s stretchy building blocks create a seal around the holes when the skewers are poked through. We all know plastic baggies can be stretched and stretched, but not everyone understands to what extent that stretchiness goes–all the way down to the material’s molecular make-up.

But if you passed a skewer through a spot with air in it (and are now drying yourself off with a newly zombie-blood-stained towel) then you’ll have found out that the air pressure outside the bag works wonders to push the blood through the hole. This is an easy-but-awesome lesson in air pressure and molecular magic.

4. The Candy Color Spectrum

Color Separation

(Photo Courtesy: Kids Health)

Halloween candy comes in a variety of colors, but we don’t often think just how those colors are created.

Despite what your little geek scientists might think, many of the colors coating the delicious sweets they can’t wait to stuff into their mouths are actually created by mixing up several different ones in the candy factory labs.

This delicious little experiment will show you and your little one which specific hues were used to create the chewy colorful goodness awaiting them on All Hallow’s Eve.

What You Need

  • 1 White coffee filter
  • Water
  • 1 Drinking glass
  • 1 Plate
  • Some colorful candies (Skittles work great!)

What You Do

  1. Cut a nice long piece out from the flat part of the coffee filter
  2. Fill up the glass with about a two-fingers-width of water
  3. Put a drop or two of water on the plate’s flat surface
  4. Put a piece of candy into the drops of water until the color dissolves
  5. Find a spot maybe 2-3 inches up from the bottom of your piece of coffee filter and gently pat the candy water with it
  6. Set the filter paper into the glass, with the candy-water spot above the clean water-line
  7. Watch as the filter soaks up the water through the candy-spot and separates it into all the colors the dye was made from
  8. Sign your name on the bottom and get it framed–this a piece of modern candy art!

Did We Learn Anything…?

Aside from a healthy dose of skepticism about what we put into our mouths without thinking, this experiment gives us a taste of how pigmentation differs from color to color.

As the water travels up the coffee filter, it carries all the different pigments used to create the candy’s shell toward the top. Some pigments travel faster or farther than others.

Why? It all depends on how large the pigment’s molecules are in the mixture and how well they’re attracted to the molecular makeup of of the filter.

We also learned a brand new way to make Halloween art! (At the expense of some really delicious candy, of course…)

SPECIAL NOTE: This experiment is wayyy cooler if you use a Vis-A-Vis black marker instead of Skittles. Try it out and just trust me.

3. Ghost Letters

Ghost Letters

(Photo Courtesy: Kids Health)

Did you know that M&Ms are haunted? Well neither did I until I tried this awesome experiment! You see, the candies themselves are normal, but the letter they put on them… Well those are a whole different story. A spooky story.

What You Need

  • Water
  • 1 Drinking glass
  • Some M&Ms

What You Do

  1. It’s easy! First fill the glass with water.
  2. Next, toss a couple M&Ms in there (try very hard to get them so they land letter-side up!)
  3. Finally, watch in amazement as the ghost letters try to escape!

Did We Learn Anything…?

Okay, you got me. They aren’t really ghost letters. What they are, in essence, are letters made from edible ink. And M&Ms aren’t the only candies that feature this ingredient. When you put the candy in the water, the shell ingredients start to dissolve and separate (like when you sucked the color off the Skittles in the Color Spectrum experiment).

Oftentimes, the shape of the ink will stay intact as it rises away from the shell, giving the impression that they’re spooooooky letters trying to escape!

2. Alien Egg Infestation

Alien Egg

(Photo Courtesy: Kitchen Pantry Scientist)

If you need some awesome decorations for your family Halloween party, take a look below to see how you can harvest your very own green alien eggs!

Also, you can do all this without your little geek and use the results to totally gross them out on Halloween morning by putting one in their hands while they’re still asleep. (But you’d have to be EVIL to do something like that… Mua-Ha-Ha-HAA!)

What You Need

  • Eggs (unboiled and in their shells!)
  • 1 Big jar
  • White vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • Green food dye
  • Corn syrup

What You Do

  1. Fill the jar half full of vinegar
  2. Place the eggs in the jar so that they’re totally submerged in the vinegar
  3. Put them in the fridge overnight
  4. Wash off the vinegar (it can be nasty if it gets in your geek scientist’s eyes!)
  5. Now you have really gross white alien eggs, but if you want green ones…
  6. Put the eggs in a container with the green dye and corn syrup and put them back in the fridge for another day

Did We Learn Anything…?

Who likes pickled eggs? Well, okay, not many people. But who likes awesomely gross aliens eggs? Oh, yeah, EVERYbody!

What happened when the eggs were put into the vinegar is that the shell dissolved away, leaving behind only a single membranous barrier.

This gelatinous new “shell” gives the eggs a liquid shine and, when combined with the syrup and dye, it’s easy to convince folks that these are ready to hatch extraterrestrials at any moment!

1. The All-Seeing Crystal Ball

Crystal Ball

(Photo Courtesy: Steve Spangler Science)

Come over here and sit by me. Here, now. There you go. Now wait as I gaze into this crystal ball… Oh… Oh, my! … Oh, dear… Yes… I see… I see your future!

Yes, your future is filled with wickedly awesome Halloween fun as you and your geeky kid create your very own all-seeing magic ball and put me out of business!

Oh, man, sometimes I hate seeing the future. But you and your kid are gonna love it!

What You Need

  • 1 Big bucket or bowl with a smooth rim less than 1 foot in diameter
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • 18-inch piece of cloth (an old rag or t-shirt scrap works awesome!)
  • Safety goggles and gloves
  • Dry ice
  • Tongs (to use with dry ice)

What You Do

  1. Mix up the soap and water
  2. Soak the cloth strip in the solution
  3. Fill your container halfway up with water
  4. Get the rim of the container nice and wet with the water
  5. Using the tongs (and the goggles and the gloves!), put a couple piece of dry ice in the container
  6. Stretch out your soapy cloth over the top of the container and slide it back and forth over the whole rim (you’re trying to seal the top completely with a soapy membrane
  7. Watch as the dry ice mist creates a spectacular bubble at the top of the container
  8. Quick, look far into the future and have fun in your role as the newest fortune teller because any second now…
  9. Watch as the awesome bubble bursts in spectacular fashion and the dry ice mist spills over the side

Did We Learn Anything…?

I don’t know–that all depends on what visions you saw in the misty depths of the magic crystal ball!

Well, I suppose we also learned about the awesome nature of dry ice and how it reacts with water and soap. But please be careful with this experiment! There’s a reason I say you ought to use goggles and gloves and tongs–dry ice can be dangerous and harmful if you don’t treat it with respect!

Final Thoughts

So, now you can add another item to the list of things that make Halloween the coolest holiday of the year! Science is very serious business, full of equations and theorems and molecular answers to the world’s most miniscule questions, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! Any one of these “spooky” experiments is bound to make this All Hallow’s Eve one of the most memorable yet!

Do you have any other suggestions for Halloween science experiments? We’d love to add to the list!

(Header Photo courtesy of Simply Modern Mom!)

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About Peter Diseth

Geek-tician and Sci-Fi-nancier, Peter has been honing his research for Geeks Raising Geeks for better than three decades. He makes a living creating web content for individuals and businesses, both local and international. He’s also a veteran actor of stage and screen, and doing this makes “making a living” worthwhile. Peter is also the sole creator of NewsAttire.com (a satirical news blog in the vein of The Onion) and a once-contributor to WhatCulture.

Peter lives in New Mexico with the three loves of his life: his wife Kate, his kitty Kitty, and his vast library of well-loved and well-worn genre fiction.

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Comments

  1. Great article! We’ve done the spooky eggs and the dry ice bubbles and loved both of those. We’ll give the others a try! Thanks for posting!

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