Best 6 Science Experiments in Under an Hour

Bill Nye 1Some of the coolest guys and gals of fiction are scientists, so it’s no surprise at all if your kid shows some interest in experimentation and scientific innovation at a young age.

I mean, come on: Bruce Banner. Spock. Mr. Wizard. Doc Brown. Bill Nye. These guys rocked my world in the formative years, and there are plenty out there right now that are bound to do the same for your own young’n.

So be the coolest mom or dad on the block and show your kids these 6 awesome experiments, each of which can be done in way less than an hour. (In fact, I think all of them can be done, start to finish, in less than ten minutes). Then teach them a thing or two about the science involved with the tricks and experiments.

You don’t even have to show them this article! I give you, right now, my full permission to pretend that you already knew everything there was to know about these experiments. You can finally be Mr. Wizard or Bill Nye in the eyes of your child!

(Okay, that might be a little heavy on my own personal wish-fulfillment, but you get the idea…)

6 Quick and Easy Science Experiments

6. Ziplock Time Bomb

Ziplock Time Bomb(Photo courtesy of AlphabetSummerKits.com)

I don’t think this science experiment (cleverly disguised as an awesome way to make things go BOOM) needs much more introduction than what it says in the title. Ziplock. Time. Bomb. What more do you need?

Well, maybe a quick warning: don’t do this inside. This is definitely an outdoor activity, because while the blast radius isn’t all that big, everything within it is gonna get wet. And also maybe a little smelly.

What You Need

  • 1 Ziplock bag (or other plastic sandwich bag), preferably of the “Freezer” variety for extra-secure closure
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 3 teaspons baking soda
  • 1 tissue

What You Do

  1. First, GO OUTSIDE.
  2. Put the warm water into the sandwich baggie (Ziplock brand or otherwise)
  3. Add in the vinegar
  4. Pour the baking soda into the middle of the tissue (Kleenex brand or otherwise)
  5. Crumple the tissue into a nice, tight ball with the baking soda safely secured in the center
  6. Zip the baggie as much closed as you can, still leaving room to put in the tissue ball
  7. Now, comes the part where you have to work fast
  8. Put the tissue into the water/vinegar-filled baggie, zip it all the way closed, and either toss it aside or run away
  9. Watch as the baggie goes boom!

Did We Learn Anything…?

Believe it or not, we did. When vinegar and baking soda come together, we get an Acid-Base reaction, which creates carbon dioxide. The gas needs room that the baggie doesn’t offer, so it grows and grows and grows, pushing the baggie out and out and out, until it finally explodes!

The tissue gives you the time to close the baggie and either toss it or run, since the baking soda can’t react with the vinegar until the tissue has dissolved or opened enough to let the two substances touch each other.

If you want to play with the “Time” part of the “Ziplock Time Bomb”, you can turn this into a kind of experiment by playing with how many tissues you can use, or what other wrapping materials might work to give you more time.

Just remember, as Uncle Ben says: with great power comes great responsibility. Use your new skills as a time bomb builder for good and never for evil. (Unless scaring the holy heck out of a sibling is considered evil… Because that’s probably okay in my book.)

5. Peep Wars

Peep War 1I grew up Jewish, so the only thing I know about Easter is Peeps.

And we ate a LOT of Peeps ’round Easter (even though they aren’t Kosher for Passover).

This is a quick, easy and fun science experiment regardless of your Geeky Denomination. So bust out this page whenever your Geek has had his full of Peeps or Passover has begun and there are extra Peeps lying around. Outside of eating ’em, this is the best thing to do with those pesky Peeps.

Yes, they’re delicious, in a tasteless kind of way. Yes, they’re fun to pinch, poke and squeeze. But holding your first annual Family Peep Wars is going to be so much more fun.

What You Need

  • 2 Peeps (any animal and color will do, though for the sake of a fair fight, they should probably both be about the same size)
  • 2 toothpicks
  • 1 microwave

What You Do

  1. Insert one toothpick into each Peep
  2. Place Peeps on a microwave-safe plate with toothpicks aimed at each other
  3. Put plate in the microwave and turn that sucker on for about 30-45 seconds
  4. Watch in wide wonder as the Peeps battle for their lives
  5. Take out plate when microwave dings and see which Peep has been stabbed by the other and exploded…
  6. Enjoy a delicious dish of Peep brûlée (if you can stomach it).

Did We Learn Anything…?

Peep War 2Yes! Well… Not a lot, but… Sure. We learned that Peeps expand when heated.

We also learned who among your family is the better Peep General of the bloody Peep Wars.

We also learned, after seeing the aftermath of a Peep War, that Jeff Goldblum may have actually gotten off easy in The Fly. He might have come out of that thing looking like small puddle of gooey goo.

Annnnnnd, we may also have learned that despite our sickened stomachs at having eaten so many of these guys already, the taste of warm Peep goo is definitely too good to pass up.

4. Glitter Volcano

Glitter Volcano(Photo courtesy of PreschoolPowolPackets.blogspot.com)

If your little girl isn’t terribly fond of the idea of a Ziplock Time Bomb, don’t fret. You can use the very same Acid-Base reaction principles with a different experiment.

A much more fabulous one.

What You Need

  • 1 bottle, preferably a fancy-looking one (to increase the experiment’s fabulosity)
  • 2-3 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 5-10 drops food coloring (any color you like!)
  • 1-3 teaspoons glitter (any color at all!) (Click Here to Buy Glitter at Amazon and Help Support GeeksRaisingGeeks!)
  • Pot, pan or aluminum foil to limit this unnatural disaster’s fabulous mess

What You Do

  1. Put your fancy bottle on or in the pot, pan or aluminum foil
  2. Pour the baking soda in the bottom of your fancy bottle
  3. Add the food coloring and glitter
  4. Dump in the vinegar, stand back, and enjoy this fabulous volcano’s fabulously sparkly eruption

Did We Learn Anything…?

Sure we did! We learned, again, that when acids and bases get together, they react. Here, the vinegar and baking soda created carbon dioxide and bubbled up and over the side of the bottle.

Also, we learned how to make the prettiest darn volcano there ever was.

RELATED: GoldieBlox is the Engineering Toy Designed For Geeky Girls

3. Blazing Benjamins

Burning MoneyMoney isn’t everything. Money isn’t everything. Money isn’t everything. No matter how many times you tell that to yourself, you still can’t help letting out a small squeal of pain when The Joker lights that mountain of cash on fire in The Dark Knight, can you? No, of course not.

But it’s a good lesson to learn. One your kids would do well to learn early.

This is more than a lesson, though. This is like magic. And once your kid has finished his or her own small squeal, they’ll delight in the sheer joy of the trick.

What You Need

  • 1 dollar bill (any denomination will do, but the more zeroes the better for psychological effect!)
  • 1/2 cup 91% rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A pair of tongs
  • Long match or long-handled lighter

What You Do

  1. Fill a bowl with the alcohol, water and salt
  2. Put the bill in the bowl and let it soak for 5-7 minutes
  3. Wash your hands to get rid of all alcohol on them!
  4. Pick up bill with tongs
  5. Light it on fire
  6. Let out a small squeal
  7. Watch in amazement

Did We Learn Anything…?

Burning Money 2Heck, yeah! We learned that we care far too much about money than we should (psychologically speaking). Because first of all, be honest, you used a one dollar bill. You didn’t take my advice and use even a Benjamin, did you? (Geez, man, where’s the trust…?)

We also learned that alcohol burns very fast. So fast, in fact, that the dollar bill (which is made from cotton, not paper) was still sopping wet when the flame burned out, leaving it free and clear of any potential burn damage.

We also might have learned (or, at least I did), that no one wants to take your money if it’s soaking wet. (Hint: only try this trick is you’re not planning on spending the Benjamin for at least an hour…)

2. Old School Secret Messages

Lemon Juice 1Who doesn’t love a good spy movie? What kid has never dreamed of being the next James (or Jane) Bond? How can you become the coolest mom or dad in the world?

The answers to these three questions are:

  1. Nobody
  2. No one
  3. Teach your kids how to write secret messages!

This is a pretty old trick (one of the oldest, in fact), but it never ceases to amaze children of all ages.

What You Need

  • Lemon juice
  • A writing implement
  • Paper
  • Source of heat

What You Do

  1. Write a message on the paper using lemon juice as the ink
  2. Let the secret message dry
  3. Hold paper up to light bulb, sunlight, iron (no steam!) or other source of heat
  4. Watch the secret message appear in brown

Did We Learn Anything…?

You mean besides the fact that your kids now think you’re a wicked combination of James Bond, Sirius Black and that dude with the obviously fake hair and speedily fading talent from National Treasure?

Well, yeah. Namely: paper weakened by an intruding element (say, lemon juice) will burn faster than the paper that’s unaffected. The secret message shows up in brown because that part of the paper is beginning to burn!

Some quick tips: cotton balls and Q-tips are great writing implements that can be tossed out after use, apple juice works as well as lemon juice, and be VERY careful when revealing the message–the last thing I want to be responsible for is creating a Bond/Black/Baldy who burns down the house in front of their kid… Like this parent is obviously about to do:

Lemon Juice 2

1. Oobleck Blech

OobleckThis experiment is simultaneously AWESOME and GROSS. Oobleck is the given name for a simple substance that look and feels different under separate circumstances. One minute it can be drippy, ooey and gooey, and in the next moment it’s solid and dependable.

Follow the directions below to create your own batch of wonderfully awful oobleck.

What You Need

  • 2 cups corn starch
  • 1 cup water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Optional: food coloring

What You Do

  1. Simply mix the water and corn starch (and optional food coloring) together in the bowl
  2. Play with it!
  3. Easy-peasy

(You can also adjust the viscosity, or thickness, of the oobleck by using more or less corn starch.)

Did We Learn Anything…?

We learned that sometimes really gross things are also really cool things.

Also that a state of being can be so fragile sometimes that the heat from simple motion can change it from a solid to a liquid. I’m sure there’s also a really great lesson about emotions and talking to someone about your feelings, but really all I can think about is how that weirdly wonderful stuff felt between my fingers.

So horribly awesome and disgustingly amazing.

Final Thoughts…

So, maybe neither you nor your kid ever wanted to be Mr. Wizard, Bruce Banner or Bill Nye. Maybe that was all just me.

But, still! You can’t go through all of these wicked awesome experiments with your kids and tell me they didn’t fall head over heels in love with it. You can’t!

You are now one step closer to becoming the ultimate mom or dad. Geeks, beware! A new leader is emerging and his/her name is… YOU!

Bill Nye 2

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About Perry Rosenbloom

Perry Rosenbloom is a Geeky Dad trying to raise a Geeky Son. He is the founder of GeeksRaisingGeeks and enjoys everything from killing orcs & trolls to building ergonomic workstations. When not at his Sit/Stand desk, he can be found adventuring throughout Colorado with his family.

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Comments

  1. What a fun blog! I can’t believe I’ve never come across it before. I’m definitely going to visit more often. Your experiments are some classic ones that are great to engage and excite discovery in kids of all ages. One problem – you are missing one of the best contemporary scientists that makes science fun – Steve Spangler. We have a ton of free science experiments and science toys for geeks of all ages!

    • Perry Rosenbloom says:

      Hi Susan,

      Thank you for your kind words! We’re still getting off the ground here, so just starting to get more well-known :).

      My wife is an elementary school science teacher and loves Steve Spangler! Definitely on our list to show off some of the awesome things you guys do over there.

      Cheers,

      Perry

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  1. […] took the boys out into the yard and we did our very first science experiment. Thank you Pinterest. Ziplock Time Bomb. It was so cool we did it 3 times – with a tissue, a napkin and then a paper towel to compare […]

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