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10 Super Simple Science Experiments for Elementary Students


Science is one of the core subjects necessary in every elementary school classroom. Experiments are a critical part of any science curriculum, because they allow your students to get up close and personal with learning concepts. Science experiments don’t have to be expensive, hard, or time-consuming. With a few inexpensive materials, a science lab, and a class period or two, you can bring science alive for your students. Here are 10 experiments to get your students started.

1. Dancing popcorn

Materials needed:

Directions:

  1. Fill the 1-quart jar about three-quarters with water.
Dancing popcorn science experiment

2. Add the baking soda to the water and stir until it’s dissolved.

Dancing popcorn science experiment

3. Gently pour the popcorn kernels into the jar.

Dancing popcorn science experiment

4. Slowly pour in the vinegar. Go slowly or you’ll get a volcano overflowing over the top of the jar.

Dancing popcorn science experiment

5. Watch the popcorn kernels dance! The reaction between the baking soda and vinegar causes bubbles to form in the liquid. As the bubbles move, they knock into the popcorn kernels, causing them to look like they are dancing.

Dancing popcorn science experiment

2. Lemon volcano

Materials needed:

Directions:

  1. Cut the lemon in half. Slice a tiny sliver off the bottom of one lemon half so it sits flat on a plate. Cut a few slits in the flesh of the lemon.
Lemon volcano science experiment

2. Place a few drops of food coloring on the lemon half sitting flat on the plate. Use two or three colors for a more colorful reaction.

Lemon volcano science experiment

3. Squeeze a bit of dish soap on the lemon half right on top of the food coloring.

4. Sprinkle a spoonful of baking soda on top of the dish soap. Use the back of the spoon to press the baking soda into the flesh of the lemon.

Lemon volcano science experiment

5. Squeeze the other half of the lemon on top of the baking soda. You should start to see a colorful reaction right away!

Lemon volcano science experiment

6. Keep squeezing until you’ve gotten all the juice out of the second lemon half. As the lemon juice reacts to the baking soda it will fizz. The dish soap will also bubble, mixing with the food coloring to make the experiment colorful and easy to see. It works because of the reaction of the acidic lemon juice with the baking soda and dish soap.

3. Turning pennies green

Materials needed:

  • Bowl
  • Paper towels
  • White vinegar
  • Pennies dated 1981 or older – younger pennies don’t have enough copper to get the proper reaction necessary to make this experiment work

Directions:

  1. Place a folded paper towel into the bottom of a bowl.
Turning pennies green science experiment

2. Place the pennies on top of the paper towel. Put some of the pennies heads up and some of the pennies tails up so your students can see the green in a couple different ways.

3. Pour enough white vinegar over the pennies to saturate the paper towel. Save the rest of the vinegar to refresh the paper towel as it dries.

4. Observe the pennies after an hour or two. The green will just be starting to appear on the pennies.

Turning pennies green science experiment

5. Leave the pennies overnight. Observe them again the next day. There will plenty of green appearing on the pennies. The green, which is called malachite, continues to appear because of the chemical reaction between the copper, the vinegar, and the oxygen in the air. This is why the Statue of Liberty is green!

Turning pennies green science experiment

4. Glitter Germs

Materials needed:

Directions:

  1. Fill the plate with water. Sprinkle glitter over the surface of the water. The more glitter you sprinkle, the more dramatic the reaction will be.
Glitter Germs science experiment

2. Have your students dip one finger in dish soap.

3. Students will gently dip their soap-covered finger into the center of the plate.

Glitter Germs science experiment

4. Observe what the glitter does! It will immediately scatter away from the soap. This happens because the soap lowers the surface tension of the water, which causes the molecules to scatter – the glitter just makes it so your students can see that happen. This is a great science experiment to teach the importance of washing hands – the soap will literally make the germs scatter!

Glitter Germs science experiment

5. Exploding baggies

Materials needed:

Directions:

  1. Pour half a cup of vinegar into a plastic zip-top bag.
Exploding baggies Science experiment

2. Place a spoonful of baking soda into a square of toilet paper.

3. Fold the toilet paper square up to make a small packet.

4. Head outside because the next part will get messy! Once outside, quickly place the toilet paper packet in the bag, squeeze the air out, zip the bag closed, and set on the sidewalk. It’s important to do this part quickly!

5. Back up and watch. The bag will start to puff up.

6. Keep watching!

7. Watch some more. It’s almost there!

Exploding baggies Science experiment

8. Bang! The bag will explode! This experiment works because the vinegar and baking soda create carbon dioxide gas in the bag. As more carbon dioxide is made, it builds up in the bag until the bag can’t hold any more. That’s when the bag pops.

Exploding baggies Science experiment

6. Walking water

Materials needed:

Directions:

  1. Place the 6 glass jars in a circle so the jars are touching each other. Fill every other jar about three-quarters full of water.

2. Place a few drops of red food coloring in one jar, skip the empty jar, add yellow food coloring to the next jar, skip the empty jar, and then add blue food coloring to the next jar.

Walking water science experiemnt

3. Fold six paper towels into fourths the long way.

4. Place the end of one paper towel in the red jar and the other end in the empty jar. Then place the end of another paper towel into the same empty jar and the other end in the yellow jar. Take the third paper towel and place one end in the yellow jar and the other end in the next empty jar. The fourth paper towel will have one end in the empty jar and the other end in the blue jar. The fifth will have one end in the blue jar and the other end in the following empty jar. The last paper towel will have one end in the empty jar and one end in the red jar.

5. Watch the paper towels begin to absorb the colored water.

Walking water science experiemnt

6. After a few minutes, the paper towels will be saturated with the primary colors.

Walking water science experiemnt

7. Keep watching and the colors will begin to transfer from the jars you filled to the empty jars. The experiment works because the primary colors will mix in the empty jars making the secondary colors. The paper towels will then begin to absorb the secondary colors, making it look like the water is walking from jar to jar.

Walking water science experiemnt

7. Hot ice

Materials needed:

Directions:

  1. Pour 4 cups of white vinegar into your cooking pot.
Hot ice science experiment

2. Add baking soda, one tablespoon at a time, to the white vinegar.

3. Stir the mixture well after each tablespoon. This will prevent the pot from overflowing.

4. Boil the white vinegar and baking soda mixture on medium-low heat for about an hour. You want to boil it long enough that that much of the liquid is boiled out. You want about three-quarters of a cup of liquid.

5. Scrape a small amount of the dried powder from the side of the pot and place it in the middle of a colored plate. A colored plate isn’t required, but it will make it easier to see the hot ice grow.

6. Pour the liquid into a glass measuring cup. It will be quite hot, so this is a job for the teacher! The liquid might also have a yellow tinge to it. This is normal and will not change the outcome of the project. Begin slowly pouring the liquid onto the powder on the plate. Patience is the key from here on out. Your students will need to pour the liquid very slowly or it will just spread all over the plate rather than growing.

7. Keep pouring, a drop or so at a time, and watch the ice begin to grow.

Hot ice science experiment

8. Keep pouring until you’ve used up all the liquid. The “ice” will continue to be hot to the touch, so make sure your students aren’t touching the ice as it grows. It works because the powder “seed,” called sodium acetate, crystalizes and releases heat energy, which is why it will be hot to the touch. It’s the same process used to make hand warmers.

Hot ice science experiment

8. Floating ink

    Materials needed:

    Directions:

  1. Draw simple pictures on a white glass plate using the dry erase markers.
Floating ink science experiment

2. Use another color to draw a few more images on the plate.

3. Place a small amount of water into a glass jar. Carefully pour the water onto the edge of the plate.

4. Watch the dry erase images begin to lift off the plate and float on top of the water. It works because the ink in dry erase markers is insoluble, which means it won’t dissolve in liquid. Instead, when the ink in a dry erase marker meets water, it floats to the top. Have your students experiment with different colors of dry erase markers and different temperatures of water to see if that changes the how quickly and easily the images float.

Floating ink science experiment

9. Snowstorm in a jar

Materials needed:

Directions:

  1. Fill a jar about three-quarters full of baby oil.

2. In the small bowl, mix white craft paint with water until the paint is completely stirred into the water.

Snowstorm in a jar science experiment

3. Add several squirts of blue food coloring and a generous amount of glitter to the baby oil. Slowly pour in the white paint and water mixture.

5. Carefully drop an Alka-seltzer tab in the jar.

6. The snowstorm will immediately start in the jar! Your students will begin to see the glitter, blue oil, and white paint start to swirl slowly in the jar.

Snowstorm in a jar science experiment

7. Keep watching because the snowstorm will get crazier! It works because water is denser than oil so the white paint water will sink to the bottom of the jar. The Alka-seltzer causes a chemical reaction with the water, forcing the water up toward the top of the jar. At the same time, the oil will be blocking the water, forcing it back down toward the bottom of the jar. These opposite forces of pressure make it look like there’s a blizzard!

10. Crushing cans

Materials needed:

  • Empty aluminum can
  • Water
  • Small cooking pot
  • Tongs
  • Bowl
  • Ice

Directions:

  1. Fill the empty aluminum can with just enough water to cover the bottom and place it in a small cooking pot and over medium heat.
Crushing cans science experiment

2. While you are waiting for the water in the can to boil, fill a bowl with plenty of ice and water.

3. Keep an eye on the can. Peek in the top to see if the water has started to boil.

4. Once the water is boiling, the teacher will use the tongs to remove the can from the pot.

5. Immediately turn the can upside down into the bowl of ice water. The can will crush instantly. It works because the steam from the boiling water in the can pushes all the air out the opening at the top. When the can is placed in the ice water, the steam cools and water takes it place. Since water takes up less space than steam, the blocked opening of the can makes it impossible for air to fill up the space the steam previously took up. The result is instant crushing.

Crushing cans science experiment

With a few simple ingredients and class period or two, your students will learn a ton about scientific concepts while also observing just how much fun science can be.

Also Check Out:

10 Super Simple Science Experiments for Elementary Students

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Sara Ipatenco

Senior Member

Sara is a 1st-grade teacher at a private school in the Rocky Mountains. She loves to read, sew, and travel. She spends most of her time away from the classroom with her husband and two children. They love taking long walks, watching movies, and playing board games together.

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