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School’s out, summer has officially arrived and the kids can finally start enjoying their long-awaited free time. But suddenly, those cries for freedom have turned into complaints of boredom. What to do?

We suggest you get your safety goggles and head outside for some backyard craziness. Science is always a great distraction – and fun, too! We’ve compiled a list of everything from basic to wacky (with stuff that’s just plain cool in between) – it’s up to you and your little scientists to decide just how adventurous you want to get!

1. GIANT FLYING BALLOON WITHOUT HELIUM

It’s more than just an empty bag blowing in the wind – it’s SCIENCE! Teach your kids a cool lesson about hot air with this super simple trick*.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 large, black garbage bag, as thin as possible
  • A sunny day

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Allow bag to fill with air (with the breeze and/or with your kids running around holding the bag open)
  • Tie the bag quickly to trap air inside
  • Stand in the sunlight and watch as the bag starts to rise as the air inside gets warmer

2. CHAIN FOUNTAIN

Stump your kids (and any nearby adults, too) with this gravity-defying trick using a very long chain.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Cup/container
  • Very long bead chain (like the chain attached to your bathtub stopper, just way longer)

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Gently fill the cup with the chain, making sure it’s free from tangles while keeping one end of the chain free at the top of the cup
  • Drop the end of the chain and be amazed at the airborne “fountain” that is created by the falling chain
  • Try again while holding the cup over a longer drop (like outside an upper floor window) and watch as the fountain gets even bigger

3. FIRE AND STRAINER

We’re assuming you’ve never tried to light paper on fire through the bottom of a metal strainer. Well, there’s a time for everything! Don’t forget to make predictions on what will happen before giving it a try and have an adult take the lead.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Metal strainer with long handle (one that you’re okay to part with)
  • Paper ripped into long strips
  • Barbeque lighter

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Have an adult hold a strip of paper and carefully light it on fire with lighter (and then drop it after a couple seconds to avoid burns)
  • Place remaining strips of paper in the strainer and flatten them down
  • Attempt to light paper on fire by holding the lighter flame underneath the strainer and watch as the paper miraculously refuses to catch fire

4. GIANT DRY ICE BUBBLE

While this unique experiment could technically be done indoors, it’ll be way more fun as a large-scale outdoor spectacle. Bonus parent points if you save it for nighttime and use outdoor lights for extra cool effects – you’ll be attracting neighbourhood kids and parents alike!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Glass measuring cup
  • As large a bowl as possible
  • Dish detergent
  • Glycerin
  • Jug of distilled water
  • Chunk of dry ice
  • Long strip of cloth
  • Safety glove or oven mitt

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Pour one cup of distilled water in measuring cup
  • Add 5 tablespoons of dish detergent
  • Add 4 tablespoons of glycerin and mix liquids together
  • Wearing safety glove/oven mitt, place chunk of dry ice in the bowl
  • Pour remaining distilled water over ice
  • Dip strip of cloth in detergent mixture
  • Holding each end of the strip of cloth with your hands, gently but quickly sweep cloth along the top of the bowl
  • Within seconds, you will see a magnificent bubble start to rise and eventually spill over the edges of the bowl with dry ice mystique
110212-dryicebubble
Giphy

5. KID-FRIENDLY ELEPHANT TOOTHPASTE

This popular (and messy!) experiment lends well to an outdoor environment where cleaning up doesn’t involve scrubbing every square inch of your kitchen. In this version, we’re using kid-friendly materials that can safely be rinsed away or tossed in the trash.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Empty 1-litre plastic soda bottle
  • Hydrogen peroxide, 12% (This is found at a store that sells hair care products – ask for hydrogen peroxide that is labeled 40-volume which is the same as a 12% solution)
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Food colouring
  • Package of dry yeast
  • Measuring cup with 4 tablespoons warm water
  • Funnel

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Using the funnel, pour 120 mL of hydrogen peroxide into the soda bottle
  • Add a squirt of dish soap, a few squirts of food colouring to the bottle and swirl contents together
  • Prepare the yeast by mixing the entire package into the cup of warm water
  • Pour the yeast mixture into the bottle and enjoy the messy result
  • Experiment with a larger plastic bottle, different colours of food colouring and small increases in the amount of hydrogen peroxide used
110214-elephanttoothpaste
Giphy

6. SUN MELT

Experiments don’t always need to have instant gratification – sometimes a little patience is key. (Or if patient kids aren’t an option, try one of the other experiments from this list while you’re waiting.) This one works best on a sunny day – the hotter, the better!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • A metal muffin tray (one that you don’t mind parting with)
  • An assortment of small items that may or may not melt in the sun, including, but not limited to: a crayon, a cube of butter, a coin, a piece of chocolate, a marble, a chunk from a bar of soap, an ice cube, a piece of Lego, a wooden block

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Place each of the chosen items in its own space in the muffin try, and make predictions on which items will melt
  • Leave muffin tray outside in the sun for 10 minutes
  • Have kids observe which items melted before placing the tray back outside and leaving it for another 30 minutes
  • Observe again, and have kids record their results – there might be a few surprises!
110213-meltinsun
Giphy

7. WATERMELON BURST

You may have seen videos of this experiment before, or read about it in our recent kitchen experiments article. But if you’ve still never tried it, we suggest you go for it now – we promise that the thrill of anticipation and explosive results will be worth it!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • One large watermelon
  • 500 rubber bands (you may require less, depending on the size of the watermelon)
  • Safety glasses

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Place rubber bands, one at a time, around centre of watermelon
  • Be prepared for mayhem as the rind begins to crack and eventually explode
110216-WatermelonExplosion
Giphy

8. HUMAN SUNDIAL

Once again, a bit of patience is necessary for this one. On the plus side, there might be some walking necessary to get to a perfect spot to conduct this experiment – and walking back and forth throughout the day is not only good exercise, but a good time-killer, too!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Sunshine!
  • Lots of space with no shadows, like a driveway or parking lot
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Camera

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Mark an ‘X’ on the ground with chalk, so your “sundial” can stand in the same place every time
  • At intervals throughout the day (at least three to be effective), have someone stand on the ‘X’ and someone else trace around the person’s shadow
  • Record time of day in chalk by each shadow
  • Observe how time of day and the Earth’s movement affect the shape and position of shadows
  • Take a photo at the end of the day (to admire your work!) and compare to a clock face

9. EXPLODING BAGGIE

Kids love any experiment that ends in an explosion, so this simple trick using a sandwich baggie is sure to impress! A classic twist on the ol’ erupting volcano, and easy enough to do over and over.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Plastic sandwich bag
  • Tissue
  • 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • Food colouring (optional)

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Add water, vinegar and food colouring (if using) to sandwich bag
  • Place baking soda in the middle of a flat tissue, then fold sides of tissue up into a square so the baking soda stays inside
  • Place satchel of baking soda inside the bag, quickly seal it and give it a little shake
  • Step back and watch as the reaction causes the bag to explode
  • Experiment with a larger freezer bag and double the ingredients (you’re already outside making a mess, after all!)

10. POP ROCKETS

A little preparation and creativity is required to make this experiment extra special, but homemade pop rockets fall under the “explosion” category and therefore, #ParentWin.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Mini M&M tubes
  • Antacid tablets
  • Cardboard (cereal boxes are a great option)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Hot glue gun
  • Water
  • Clay
  • Decorations like stickers/washi tape (optional)

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Remove labels and lids from M&M containers
  • Let your kids decorate the containers, aka “rockets”
  • Create rocket cone shape out of cardboard, seal with glue gun and cover with foil
  • Attach cone to top of the rocket (opposite end of the opening)
  • Use a piece of clay to affix antacid tablet on the inside of rocket’s (separated) lid
  • Pour about a teaspoon of water inside the rocket container
  • Place lid (with secured tablet) on the rocket, flip it over and place it on a flat surface
  • Take cover and watch as your rocket takes off
  • Consider doubling the antacid tablets and trying again to see what happens

11. BUBBLE SNAKES

You can’t go wrong with bubbles (and you definitely can’t go wrong with tricks that involve items you probably already have in your home). We guarantee that your kids will have a blast with bubble snakes and we’re willing to bet you’ll want to give it a try, too!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Empty plastic 500 mL water bottle
  • An old sock
  • Scissors
  • Rubber band
  • Bubble-blowing liquid or mixture of liquid dish soap and water
  • Shallow dish

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Cut off the end of the water bottle
  • Pull sock tightly over the open end of the bottle and secure it with rubber band
  • Pour bubble mixture into shallow dish
  • Dip the bottle in the liquid, sock side down, and let the material absorb some of the liquid
  • Blow into the mouthpiece and be amazed at how normal bubble blowing is transformed with the addition of the sock

12. GIANT BUBBLES

So, the fancy dry ice bubbles are cool, and bubble snakes are fun, but what your kids really want now is just a giant, freakin’ bubble. You’re welcome.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Bucket containing 6 cups distilled water
  • ½ cup dishwashing liquid (the cheaper, the better)
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon glycerin
  • 2 thick straws
  • Yarn, about 6 times longer than the length of 1 straw

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Dissolve cornstarch in bucket of water, stirring well
  • Gently stir in remaining ingredients, avoiding froth
  • Allow mixture to sit for at least an hour, gently stirring occasionally if ingredients are settling on the bottom
  • Thread yarn through both straws, and tie a knot
  • Holding the two straws as handles, dip yarn into bubble mixture and wave it around to create giant bubbles
  • Experiment with movement and the breeze to see what works best (Hint: the more bubbles you make, the silkier the bubble mix becomes and the better your bubbles turn out!)

    My-bubbles
    Gifsoup

13. BALLOON BOATS

Are the little ones getting bored of the kiddie pool? Add some science to the mix. Toddlers and young kids will find these balloon-powered boats especially mind-blowing. The initial construction requires a little help from parents, but the effort will be worth it when kids can stay cool and dabble in science at the same time!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Backyard swimming pool or kiddie pool
  • Base of a take-out food container
  • Hole puncher
  • Straw
  • Rubber band
  • Balloon
  • Hot glue gun

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Place one end of straw into the opening of a deflated balloon
  • Affix balloon to straw with rubber band
  • Punch a hole in one of the short sides of the container
  • With the balloon end of the straw inside the boat (container), place other end of straw through the punched hole
  • Secure straw in place with hot glue gun
  • Inflate balloon by blowing air through the straw, then quickly cover the straw hole with a finger to prevent air from leaking
  • Place boat into water and release, wowing your kids as the escaping air propels the boat forward

14. PENDULUM CHALK PAINT

If you’re looking for an excuse to let the kiddos get messy and creative while learning at the same time, this experiment has it all!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon washable paint
  • Foam or paper cup
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • 2 chairs
  • Broom or hockey stick

WHAT YOU DO:

  • Poke a hole in the bottom of the cup and 2 holes on each side of the cup just under the rim
  • Thread a piece of string through the 2 holes in the sides and tie a knot, making a large loop handle to hang the cup
  • Place the broom/hockey stick horizontally across the two chairs and slide the hanging cup to the middle of the stick
  • Create chalk paint by mixing together water, cornstarch and washable paint (test mixture on an inconspicuous area first, to ensure it will wash off)
  • Add coloured chalk paint to cup and let your kids go wild with the pendulum swing
  • Experiment with the length of the string and strength of the swing or layer on different colours of paint for an even cooler effect
110209-pendulumart
Handmade Kids Art

*If you love CrazyRussianHacker as much as we do, check out his channel.