I remember our science curriculum in first grade—a small square book published locally that was a few hundred pages. I do not know if it is still in print. As a young girl, science was my favourite subject. It was easy to understand and interesting to learn—and I was good at it. But there was one thing lacking in our science classes—no experiments!!
The first time I stepped inside a science lab was around middle school. It was a mysterious room for all my classmates. Inside were bottles and bottles of preserved specimens such as scorpions and some other animals, even a human fetus! But we used the laboratory more as a space to watch science videos. I would like to think of myself as book-smart. I get top grades in science because I read the books, memorize the facts, and answer perfectly on quizzes. But come the end of the school year, that knowledge flies out of the window as I look forward to summer vacation.
I think homeschoolers have more options than ever now. We discover that learning science is not just limited to textbooks, and there definitely is no cookie-cutter approach to it. I asked my child what his favourite subject is, and he readily answered “Science!” When asked why it is so, his answer is “Because it’s fun!”
When I started homeschooling him (kindergarten), his science book already introduced him to experiments. Since then, he has been cooking up his own inside his personal laboratory (a.k.a. the small washroom) in our home office. Sometimes his experiments make sense only to him (mixing this and that). But oftentimes, they would amaze me with his creativity.
Examples of Science Experiments at Home
Our home has literally become a living science fair with his experiments (ongoing/finished/forgotten) strewn all over the place. Yup, the refrigerator has become our friend. (And with my mother-in-law almost always ripping her hair out because of the constant opening of the chiller.)
We are blessed to have generous godmothers (my dear sister and sister-in-law) who gifted him with science kits and a toy microscope last Christmas. Believe it or not, he is still busy with the kits (and we are approaching summer now). Once I was skeptical of science kits because they are basically just corrugated boxes with household materials and instructions thrown inside. Heck, I thought, I could make these myself. But then for busy parents, they are actually heaven-sent!
Here are some of the experiments included in the kits. I chose the super easy ones where the materials are readily available at home.
Catch bubbles with your hand.
- Make a bubble solution with your favorite dishwashing soap.
- Put on clean gloves or hold a handkerchief—just make sure it is clean.
- Blow some bubbles and try to catch them. The bubbles do not pop!
- The science behind the experiment: oil and dirt can puncture bubbles, but clean cotton gloves (or hanky or socks) will not pop them.
Shine your pennies.
- Place dirty pennies in a cup of vinegar and wait for a minute or two.
- Rinse them. What happened to your pennies?
- Next, put your shiny pennies in a solution of salt and vinegar. What was the difference between the first and second processes?
- The science behind the experiment: copper pennies oxidized (or had a chemical reaction) with the air which made them dirty and dark brown. Vinegar dissolves copper oxide leaving the shiny copper behind. But salt (sodium chloride) can turn copper green because of the chlorine present—just like what happened to the Statue of Liberty. (The Statue of Liberty really is not blue-green in color!!) Oxygen and salt water caused the original copper color to become greenish-blue.
Make a bouncy egg.
- This is our favourite experiment! You get to learn cool science words like osmosis.
- Watching videos of kids (or adults acting like kids!) doing this experiment is definitely more fun than reading a bunch of instructions. Just always review the online videos first before showing them to your children.
(Here’s one option from Cool Science Experiments Headquarters.)
Turn a fish.
- Make a drawing of a fish. A funky fish like below is a-ok:
- Place a glass cup in front of it and observe Mr. Fish through the glass.
- Slowly fill the cup and watch what happens.
- The science behind the experiment: when light waves travel through different substances (for example, air to water), their speed changes hence refracting or bouncing in a different direction. What we see on the left is now on the right and vice versa!
Inflate a balloon using chemistry.
- Put baking soda inside a bottle.
- Pour vinegar into a balloon.
- Wrap the mouth of the balloon onto the bottle’s opening (hence pouring the vinegar into the bottle) and watch the balloon grow bigger!
- The science behind the experiment: when baking soda and vinegar are combined, a new compound (carbon dioxide) is formed. This is the gas that makes the balloon inflate by itself.
Written by Katherine Tanyu
Aside from God, her family, homeschooling (and books!), Katherine's love lies in stationeries. She and her husband manage growing stationery brands Forestmill®, Prevailed®, and FengShui Power® in the Philippines. She is also the community moderator of a Facebook group for Office and School Supplies Wholesalers.
See more articles on The Canadian Schoolhouse written by Katherine.