During this period of physical distancing, the Geo Centre team would like to maintain our social connection with our visitors.
We have created this page to share simple science activities that parents can do with their children at home!
Solar S’mores (parental supervision required)
– A pizza box
– Aluminum foil
– Plastic wrap
– Black paper
– A box cutter/knife
– Graham crackers
The heat from the sun is trapped inside of your pizza box solar oven, and it starts getting very hot. Ovens like this one are called collector boxes, because they collect the sunlight inside. As it sits out in the sun, your oven eventually heats up enough to melt cheese, or cook a hot dog!
How does it happen? Rays of light are coming to the earth at an angle. The foil reflects the ray, and bounces it directly into the opening of the box. Once it has gone through the plastic wrap, it heats up the air that is trapped inside. The black paper absorbs the heat at the bottom of the oven, and the newspaper make sure that the heat stays where it is, instead of escaping out the sides of the oven.
Source: Home Science Tools
– Mixing bowl
– Measuring cup
– Measuring spoons
– Fine white sand
– Corn starch
Colored soapy solution
– 1 cup of water
– Dish soap
– Food coloring
Kinetic sand is sand that sticks to itself, so you can form clumps and mold it with your hands. Kinetic sand is an example of a dilatant or non-Newtonian fluid that increases its viscosity under stress. So when you apply pressure the sand stays together like a solid and when you release the stress, it flows like a liquid.
– Large cup
– 1/2 cup dish soap
– 1 1/2 cups water
– 2 teaspoons sugar
– Bubble Wands
Bubbles are pockets of soap and water that are filled with air. The outside and inside surfaces of a bubble consist of soap molecules. A thin layer of water lies between the two layers of soap molecules, sort of like a water sandwich with soap molecules for bread. They work together to hold air inside. They pop when the water between the soap film surfaces evaporates!
Homemade Sparkler (parental supervision required)
– a pad of steel wool
– wire whisk
– heavy string or a light rope
– 9-volt battery
– protective gear: hat & safety glasses
Steel wool, like all metals, burns when enough energy is supplied. It’s a simple oxidation reaction, like rust formation, except faster. This is the basis for the thermite reaction, but it’s even easier to burn a metal when it has a lot of surface area. Here’s a fun fire science project where you spin burning steel wool to create a fantastic sparkler effect. It’s simple and makes an ideal subject for science photographs.
It’s fire, so this is an adult-only project. Perform the project on gravel or in a parking lot or some other place free from flammable material. It’s a good idea to wear a hat to protect your hair from stray sparks and glasses to protect your eyes.
– shredded paper
Why not try making your own seed paper that doubles as a gift for mom! When you’re done, you can plant this biodegradable paper into the ground and watch your seedlings grow!
– plastic bag or light material
– a small object to act as the weight, a little action figure would be perfect
When you release the parachute, the weight pulls down on the strings and opens up a large surface area of material that uses air resistance to slow it down. The larger the surface area the more air resistance and the slower the parachute will drop.
– a clothespin
– a pot for boiling
– wooden skewer or cotton string
– clean glass or plastic jar
– food coloring (optional)
– flavoring (optional — good choices include cherry, peppermint, and cinnamon)
Rock candy is created through processes called crystallization and supersaturation. When you boil sugar in water there becomes an excess amount of sugar in the sugar vs. water ratio. As the water gradually evaporates (turns from a liquid to a gas), the crystals are left behind to form crystalline structures on your skewer or string. Yum!
– shaving cream
– large glass
– food coloring
Clouds in the sky hold onto water. They can hold millions of gallons! The layer of shaving cream is the pretend cloud in this experiment. The shaving cream layer can also hold onto water. Clouds can’t keep storing more and more water forever, eventually they get too heavy. When that happens, the water falls out (precipitates) as rain, snow, sleet, or hail.
In this activity, you will experiment with separating substances…in this case, colors!
– two white coffee filters
– drawing markers (not permanent): brown, yellow and any other colors you would like to test
– at least two pencils (one for each color you will be testing)
– at least two tall water glasses (one for each color you will be testing), four inches or taller
– two binder clips or clothespins
– drying rack or at least two additional tall water glasses (one for each color you will be testing)
– pencil or pen and paper for taking notes
Chromatography is a method using mixed substances that depends on the speed at which they move through special media, or chemical substances. It consists of a stationary phase (a solid) and a mobile phase (a liquid or a gas). The mobile phase flows through the stationary phase.
Marker companies combine a small subset of color molecules to make a wide range of colours and when we add a solvent (water) the molecules separate to show the range of colors present!
In this activity, you will experiment with how salt melts ice!
For your ice block:
– toy dinosaurs, stones, shells, plastic crystals, etc.
– large container
For your experiment:
– salt coloured with a few drops of blue food colouring
– a shaker container for the salt
– small pate spreaders
– plastic test tubes
– turkey baster
– bowl of hot water
Salt works by lowering the freezing point of water. When sprinkled on ice, it makes a brine with the film of surface water, which lowers the freezing point and starts melting the ice that the brine is in contact with- to a point. The lower the temperature, the more salt you need, so it is less useful below -10C (15F).