Helping kids find out what makes things tick can be one of the most fun parts of parenting. So the next time your child starts a conversation with “Did you ever wonder how … ,” it could be an opportunity for you to introduce the scientific method — and get your hands dirty with some activities, too.
These are perfect for nannies and babysitters, too. Start with a question, ask the kids to come up with a hypothesis and then test it together. Here are 14 tests to get you started on your new mythbusting quest to uncover the truth with fun science experiments at home.
Does breakfast cereal have real iron in it?
Check the label of a cereal like Total that contains 100 percent iron. Does the iron come from real iron? Try this project from Crafty This Crafty That to find out. Pulverize the cereal in a bag, add water and hold a strong magnet against the bag to see if any iron is lifted from the cereal.
Can you pull a tablecloth off a fully set table without anything breaking?
Who among us hasn’t wanted to try this trick at some point? Thanks to gravity, this is actually possible — just keep thinking to yourself, “pull DOWN, not OUT,” as Steve Spangler suggests. Remember to use plastic dishes so no one gets hurt.
How many balloons can lift a house? (Like in the movie ‘Up’)
According to Slate, it would take between 100,000 and 23.5 million balloons to lift a house. A typical party balloon tied to curling ribbon can lift one penny, but not two, according to blogger Rob Cockerham. Grab a helium tank, some 11-inch party balloons, string and some pennies to see what goes up.
Does sugar make kids hyper?
There’s only one way to test this myth. Take your child’s resting pulse, then take her pulse again after eating a lollipop or candy bar.
Do Twinkies last forever?
Twinkies do have an expiration date stamped on the package, so keep one around in a sealed package for a few weeks after it to verify this myth. It’s no secret that Twinkies are neither wholesome nor nutritious, but it’s not so easy to pick out these 6 Surprising Junk Food Items for Kids.
Do all plants need light to grow?
Keep a potato or a clean avocado pit in a moist, dark place for a month. Does it sprout? Why?
Does soda rot your teeth?
To perform this experiment from Explorable, drop tarnished pennies into jars filled with sugary soda, diet soda, lemonade, a sports drink and water, seal the lid and wait a couple of days to see which one has the biggest effect.
Can a lack of sleep affect your memory?
When telling your kids they need more sleep to succeed at school isn’t enough, you need real proof on your side. Have one subject get a good night’s sleep and then try memorizing a word list the next day. The following night, push back his bedtime a few hours (he’ll like that!) and have him memorize a new list. Compare the scores.
Are no two fingerprints alike?
Grab an ink pad and start checking!
Can the sun really cook food?
You’ve heard people say “It’s so hot, you could fry an egg!” Follow these directions from Michigan Reach Out! to see if you really can.
Is the sky really blue?
Wait, what? Isn’t that just a fact? Try this experiment from Exploratorium and see for yourself.
Do you need a camera to take a picture?
According to Alpha Mom, all you need is light-sensitive paper and some sun.
Would the bat-signal really work?
You can make a mini Bat-Signal at home with this activity from Built by Kids.
Is yawning contagious?
You may have had the urge to yawn just reading this sentence. Head to a public place with one or two cohorts and start yawning. See how contagious it is. Any ideas why? Spoiler: Scientists aren’t even certain!