Monday, March 23, 2020

Easy Science At Home

Last week we had a loose "school at home" schedule that we ran which included a science portion in the afternoons.  Every day I tried to do a simple experiment with them and while a couple were a flop here are the ones that the kids really enjoyed...  

I gave each of them four glasses and a pitcher of water.  Before we started we made a hypothesis about what would happen to the sound that was made as they added more water.  I told them to fill their glasses with various amounts and then to tap their glasses with a pencil and see what happened.  

They worked on their own set of glasses, filling them, tapping them in various places, making little tunes, etc. and then they decided to put all 12 together and make a big scale.

Here's what we talked about at the end: Each of the glasses had a different tone when hit with the pencil, the glass with the most water will had the lowest tone while the glass with the least water had the highest. Small vibrations were made when we hit the glass, this created sound waves which traveled through the water. More water meant slower vibrations and a deeper tone.  We also talked about independent/dependent variables and how where we hit the glass, how we held the pencil, where on the pencil we hit the glass, etc. all made a difference and could influence our outcome. 

It was extra cute to see them running to our keyboard and playing a note and then trying to fill a glass to match the tone.  Mason especially really enjoyed this and has asked to do it again.

Next, we used plastic cups, yarn and hangers to create our own balance scales...

We had these cups on hand so I punched holes on either side and then tied 12" of string through them trying to keep the cups as consistent as possible.

Then the kids hung a cup on either side of a hanger (it had little notches in it to keep the cups on), found a spot to hang it and they started measuring things.  Griffin started with objects from her room (like a plastic horse) and saw how many quarters it took to balance the scale. 

Luke compared the weights of rocks...

... and Mason spent most of his time comparing objects in his room to Lego bricks. 

I told them that I wanted them each to write 5 "equations" stating things that they found to be equal (i.e. 1 plastic horse = 8 quarters) but they actually ended up playing with their scales for well over an hour and each had dozens of comparisons.  All three of them LOVED this activity!  10/10 stars!

The next experiment was super simple and Mason and Luke actually knew what we were doing as soon as I had them get a rock and paper.  They each balled up a piece of paper and held that in one hand and a rock in the other.  The experiment was to see which would hit the ground first with the VERY different weights.  Griffin was the only one who made a hypothesis (since the boys already knew) but she guessed that the rock would hit first since it was heavier.  Turns out that the force of gravity is the same on every object no matter the weight so they landed at the same time. 

To keep the boys engaged we made slow-mo videos to compare and talked about what factors could have made them not hit the ground at exactly the same moment.

Last - we cut the tops off of tea bags, emptied out the contents, stood the cylinders up and lit the top on fire...

As the flame made it's way to the bottom it lifted the paper cylinder up into the air and we talked about how how lighting the top of the teabag cylinder heats the air inside the cylinder. The air molecules start to move more quickly and spread out to take up more space. As the air molecules spread out, the air inside the cylinder becomes less dense. Warm, less dense air rises above cool, dense air. The ash of the teabag is light and doesn't require much force to lift it. As the warm, less dense air rises, it has enough force to lift the ash of the teabag. (from  here)

We talked about how hot air balloons use this same  basic method to fly...

... and did the experiment several times with tea bags...

.... and then regular paper...

... and coffee filters to see what would happen.

We talked about how/why the other papers didn't fly and how the weight of the paper kept them from flying.

Hoping you found an idea (or four!) to try with your kids at home this week. 

HAPPY MONDAY, friends!!!


  1. Years ago we had a lady at church who could play amazing music on the goblets with water! She would wet her fingers and rub them around the top. Love the experiments! For someone who burned a hole in her chemistry book the first day of school in America, I still struggle with burning things though!

  2. These look fun! So my question is, do the teabags burn themselves out or do you have a little fire floating through the air?!

    1. I was about to ask the same question! I can see myself burning down our kitchen by mistake! LOL

  3. Yay!! Thank you for posting these!!! These are fantastic because they're good for a range of ages.

  4. These are AWESOME!!! Thank you!!!

  5. These are so great! My oldest was just asking to do some experiments at home this week!

  6. We did the tea bag experiment. Thanks for sharing stay healthy


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