If you live up north, snow days are inevitable. Kids delight in them and adults can too, especially when everyone can use the extra time together to do something fun. After the deluge of holiday treats, you may not feel like spending the whole day baking, but that doesn’t mean you can't spend some quality family time together in your kitchen. All you need to do is transform your kitchen into your own laboratory of scientific fun. You can still use your apron, kitchen gadgets, and even certain food ingredients. But instead of serving up meals, you and your little chef will be serving up science.
Baking Soda and Vinegar – The Classic
Let’s start with the most basic and classic experiment ingredient out there: baking soda. That white, unassuming powder is like the Swiss-Army knife of your kitchen, and scientific experiments are just another tool to whip out on a rainy or snowy day. You’ll want to do a little preparation, of course. First, you’ll probably want to spread out a few towels or a waterproof tablecloth on your floor. You can minimize mess by using a large baking sheet under whatever container you employ, but the towels and tablecloth may prevent any accidental slips from liquid spray. Next, you’ll need a container in which you plan on pouring the baking soda. Choose something large and clear, like a cleaned-out, empty two liter soda bottle. Allow your little chef/scientist to add a few teaspoons of baking soda into the bottom of the container. Next, add a cup of white vinegar. Now, watch your little chef smile as the baking soda and vinegar interact to make some serious fizz. For a fun twist, you can start by filling the container with vinegar and a food coloring tablet, which will create colored fizz once your little chef adds the baking soda. Another idea is to put the baking soda into a balloon and then place the balloon over the mouth of the container. The resulting gasses will cause the balloon to inflate.
Flowers for Your Little Scientist
One of the earliest concepts taught to elementary school students is the parts of a flower. Petals, stem, leaves, xylem, and phloem. You can reinforce these concepts with your little chef at home using this simple experiment. First, you’ll need to buy some white flowers at your local grocery store or florist. At home, fill a vase with water and then let your little scientist add a few drops of his favorite color to the water. Next, trim the stems of the flowers and immediately add them to the water. Ask your little scientist questions about what she thinks will happen next. See if she can explain the process and make predictions about how long it will take for the petals to change color. Finally, ask her to sketch your experiment and label the parts of the flower. In the end, you’ll end up with a fun experiment and beautiful flowers.
Milk is Good for Your Brain
Everyone knows that milk is good for your bones, but did you know that milk is good for your brain too? With just a few simple ingredients, your little chef can turn milk into Magic Milk. For this experiment, you’ll need a small or medium sized shallow container. The lid from a large container of yogurt would work or a shallow bowl. Next, add a thin layer of milk and a few drops of food coloring. Finally, ask your little chef to add some dish soap. Magically, the milk will disperse. If you know your little chef will ask “Why” – and hopefully she will – you can read the scientific explanation on TheScienceKiddo.com site. Once you’ve completed that experiment, let your little scientist try other liquids to see if she gets the same results or try different kinds of soaps. Afterward, sit down to a few cookies and a large glass of – what else? – milk.