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Top 5 Experiments To Do At Home Copy

It is often said that learning science is important, yet most find that providing great hands-on science experiments for their kids is difficult. We have done the work for you and have compiled 5 fun experiments that use supplies you already have at home! Hands-on experiments help develop our brains by encouraging more nerve cell connections, help us to think critically, develop curiosity, develop understanding and compassion for the natural world, and gain an understanding of our own bodies that ultimately promotes health. So let’s get started!

This collection is all life science. 

Experiment 1: Rocket Engine with Yeast and pasta

In this experiment you can watch rocket engine combustion in action, amazingly using a living organism! Yeast is a type of fungus and contains an enzyme called catalase which will speed up the way hydrogen peroxide breaks down.  The result is a big gust of oxygen which, when ignited, will produce a flame. Adult supervision will be helpful for this experiment. 

Materials:

  • small canning jar with lid
  • hydrogen peroxide (available at the grocery store or drug store)
  • 1 packet baking yeast
  • Screw driver
  • Small pasta tube (like rigatoni) 
  • Match or lighter

Action Steps:

  1. Read through all of the directions before you begin and have everything ready to go. 
  2. Fill a small canning jar ¾ full with hydrogen peroxide.
  3. Add 1 tsp of dry yeast. Swirl.  The enzyme catalase in yeast will begin to breakdown the hydrogen peroxide to release oxygen gas to help propel the fire
  4. Place a small hole in the metal lid of the jar (can punch it with a screw driver) then set the lid without the ring over the jar.
  5. Prop a small pasta tube on top of the hole
  6. Light the top of the pasta tube and watch the rocket engine ignite as the oxygen gas comes up through the pasta.   

What’s happening: 

Combustion requires fuel and a stream of oxygen to burn. In this experiment, the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide, with the help of yeast, is providing the oxygen. What is providing the fuel? The shape of the pasta is acting as a combustion tube to concentrate the flow of oxygen and increase the power of the flame. Nice work!

Experiment 2:  Magic Color Changing Flowers

In this experiment you will learn how to change the color of a flower. In the process you will see how flowers have vessels very much like you!  Your blood vessels deliver nutrients to your body and plant vessels carry water and nutrients throughout the plant.  

Materials:

  • Light colored flower – roses, carnations, mums, or daisies work well
  • Liquid food coloring 
  • Small vase or jar
  • Water
  • Scissors

Action Steps:

  1. Fill the vase or jar with water 2/3 full.  Add 10 drops of food coloring – or more depending on the intensity of coloring desired in your flower. 
  2. Prep the flower: cut 1-2 inches off the bottom of the stem at a 45-degree angle to open up all the vessels to draw up water.  
  3. Place the flower in the vase and wait 1-6 hours for the color to appear! 
  4. Once you have the color you like, make a fresh cut of the stem and place in a vase of clear water.  
  5. Enjoy your beautifully colored flower! 

What’s Happening:

Plant vessels, called xylem, run from the bottom of the plant stem all the way up into the petals of the flower.  When the stem is cut, air bubbles can enter the xylem and prevent water from flowing in.  This is why it’s important to make a fresh cut of the stem before quickly placing your flower into your water/food coloring solution. The solution can now be carried all the way up the xylem where water and nutrients will be delivered to the entire plant. Often the green coloring of the stem will prevent the colored solution from showing, but since the flower is lighter in color, the color change will be visible.  You will have a beautifully patterned flower and will be able to clearly see where the vessels are located. If warmer temperature helps to draw water up the vessels, what would happen to your experiment if you kept your flower/vase in the refrigerator during step c? 

Experiment 3: Moldy Bread – On Purpose

On any other day, finding mold on your bread would be a disappointment, but not this time! As a scientist, you’ll examine the various fungi that can grow on bread rather than toss them in the trash. This includes the famous “black bread mold,” specifically called Rhizopus. When you’re done, you’ll have some useful tips for keeping your bread mold-free in the future.

Materials:

  • Slice of organic bread
  • 3 zip-top bags
  • Marker
  • Water
  • Bread knife
  • Teaspoon
  • Magnifying glass (optional)

Action Steps:

  1. Label the bags 1–3.
  2. Using your knife, slice the bread into three equally sized pieces. Place each piece into its own bag. 
  3. For Bag 1, seal the bag and place it in indirect light.
  4. For Bag 2, sprinkle 1 teaspoon water over the surface of the bread. Seal the bag and place it next to Bag 1.
  5. For Bag 3, sprinkle one teaspoon water over the surface of the bread. Seal the bag and place it in a dark place.
  6. Allow the mold to grow, checking each day over a six-day period. Observe any development of colored areas. What do you see? What are the textures of the spots that
  7. develop? 

f. After six days, lay the three bags in front of you. What do you notice about the amount of mold, the variety, and the textures in your results. In particular, observe the fuzzy black bread mold (Rhizopus). If you have a magnifying glass, take a closer look at the growing fungi. 

What’s Happening:

Fungi live by decomposing organic material, in this case bread. Several fungal species were able to live and grow, as you could tell by the variety of colors and textures you found. Hopefully you discovered Rhizopus, but you also might see a light grey or blue colored mold.  This is Penicillium. This fungus has sometimes been used to produce blue cheese and also penicillin, the antibiotic! This growth was fueled by the presence of water, the other main necessity for a fungus. Perhaps you also noticed that light isn’t necessary to begin the growth of the fungus, but maybe to develop fully. Too much light, however, and water dries out, leaving fungi without a vital resource. That’s why indirect light works best. If you don’t want to grow mold on you bread, what steps can you take? 

Experiment 4:  Keeping Warm in Cold Waters 

Unlike you, bony fish can’t generate their own body heat. These types of organisms are called ectotherms (as opposed to endotherms), and they rely on heat sources in their environment to keep warm. While sometimes this can be an advantage – ectotherms don’t need to eat as much to generate their own warmth – this means the body temperature of a bony fish can change drastically, and this influences its behavior. If the water gets too cold, a bony fish can’t even move!

Being an ectotherm is one way that bony fish differ from aquatic mammals like whales. Unlike bony fish, whales can’t survive if their body temperature drops too low – they’re endotherms that need to keep their bodies at a certain level of warmth. So how do they manage to survive in artic waters, which can be even colder than 0C? Blubber! 

A whale’s blubber insulates its body heat – that is to say, it prevents a whale’s body heat from seeping out into the water, keeping it warm. Blubber is made of fat, a natural insulator, as opposed to muscle or bone. In this experiment, you’ll see how blubber helps keep whales warm, unlike the bony fish that lack it. Using your own experience, you’ll see how whales can feel warm in some of our planet’s coldest waters, where bony fish would freeze!

Materials:

  • Four zip top bags
  • 1 cup Shortening
  • Thermometer (optional for extra detail)
  • One large bowl
  • Ice
  • Water

Action Steps:

  1. Fill the bowl with ice and water to make a cold aquatic environment. 
  2. Unwrap the shortening and place it into one plastic bag. Shortening is a fat that will represent blubber. The plastic bags will represent skin.  
  3. Put the second bag over your hand (this will help keep your hand from becoming a huge mess!). Place your bag-covered hand into the bag with the shortening and squish it around so it “covers” all your fingers. For the remaining two plastic bags, place one inside the other, then put your other hand inside. You now have one hand protected with blubber and the other just with skin!
  4. Place each bagged hand into the bowl of ice water. How do they feel? The same? Different?  Does blubber make a difference in the way it feels?
  5. (Optional) Carefully remove your hands from the bags, leaving the bags in the ice water but being careful not to let water get inside them. One at a time, place the thermometer into each bag while they’re still in the water. Is there a difference? How does blubber make a difference

What’s Happening?

Feel the difference? Blubber is essential for endotherms living in artic waters. Without it, their internal heat would drop too low, and their body wouldn’t be able to function properly. The situation is different for bony fish. They’re ectotherms, and their bodies respond directly to the temperature of their environment. As a result, they have their own adaptations. To save energy, they slow their movement, and some even have internal chemicals that act like antifreeze! 

If bony fish don’t have blubber, what can they do to respond to changing temperatures around them? This is particularly important in winter, when lakes and streams will freeze! 

Experiment 5:  Predators and their Prey

30 minutes

Many animals can survive by eating only plant material, but others rely on eating other animals to survive.  Because of this, they form a chain of predators, those who eat another animal, often called prey. In order to survive, prey need ways to hide from predators.  One way many prey are able to hide is through a body coloring that looks like the environment around them.  The is called camouflage.  It helps them to blend into their surroundings.  This experiment allows you put yourself in the shoes of a predator trying to find enough food.   You will need a parent or a friend to help with this one!

Materials: 

  • Tri-colored pasta 
  • flags or long sticks
  • a friend or parent
  • a grassy spot
  • a timer (the one on a phone works)

Action Steps: 

  1. Count out about a 5 meter by 5 meter patch of grass as your environment.   You can do this by taking 5 huge steps and placing a flag/stick then pivoting and taking another 5 huge steps and placing another flag so that you eventually mark a square with the four flags in the corners.
  2. Separate the pasta into the 3 colors.  Scatter lots of white pasta on the grass inside your square environment.
  3. Have your friend set the timer for 1 minute.   You are now a predator of white pasta animals. How many pastas can you grab before the timer rings?  You must collect 10 pasta each minute to survive.  Repeat for a second minute and a 3rd minute. Record your numbers collected on a piece of paper. Leave remaining pasta in the grass. Did you survive all 3 collections? 
  4. Now scatter the red pasta and repeat the above steps, this time collecting only red pasta animals. Record your results.
  5. Now scatter the green pasta and repeat the above steps. Record your results. 

What’s Happening? 

How did you do as a predator?  Were you able to collect enough food to survive 3 days? Which color was the easiest to collect and which was the most difficult? Did the color of the pasta make a difference in your ability to collect it? If you are the prey, what do you think of camouflage? If you are the predator, what do you think of camouflage?  

Camouflage is helpful for squid and chameleons who can change their colors to match their surroundings.  Other animals are naturally a color or shape that helps them to blend in to the place where they live.  Stick bugs look like sticks of a plant and many caterpillars are green to blend into the leaves they eat. Penguins are dark on top and light on the bottom to be hidden from predators looking down into the dark sea or up from the sea where light shines in. Pretty amazing!  

We hope you have enjoyed these experiments! Please let us know if you have any fun discoveries and send or post photos – we’d love to be part of your scientific journey.  If you would like more life science experiments, without any preparation or sourcing needed, check out our website, www.bioboxlabs.com.

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