Easy Science Projects Using Household Items

Science projects for kids that can be done with materials found in the home give you a great outlet for children to have fun and learn at the same time (while at home!). Many of these cool science projects for the home make great rainy day activities and will get kids interested in science and learning while having fun. Sometimes parents worry that entertaining their kids can be expensive, but with a little creativity they will find that there are actually lots of fun things to build with household items, and cool experiments that are entirely DIY.

Parents are always wondering what to do with their kids to keep them occupied, so here is a list that is both fun and educational. The best part is . . . all of these things are made of everyday objects that can be found in your home! Not only are you entertaining your kids, but you're educating them. These experiments teach physics, Bernoulli's Principle, and magnetism. Be warned: some of this stuff takes time and a lot of patience, but all of them are completely worth it!.

  • Hypercooling
    Photo: flickr / CC0


    What You Need:

    -A metal bucket
    -32 oz. of table salt
    -6 16oz bottled water
    -2 bags of crushed ice and water
    -Thermometer (optional)

    What You Do:

    -Take three to six (sealed) plastic bottles of mineral water.

    -Place them in your bucket and pour in a bag of ice; add water so that the ice becomes slushy.

    -The lids of your water bottles should be sticking out the top of the ice/water mixture so you can handle them without freezing your fingers. Make sure they are evenly spaced in the bucket.

    -Pour in the salt, use 26 oz of salt if you only use three bottles and 32 oz for six bottles.

    -If you have a thermometer, place it in the bucket.

    -Wait 35-45 minutes, but keep checking on the bottles, turn them gently to insure that they cool evenly.

    -When time is up, you'll see a thin layer of ice on the outside of your metal bucket.

    -Take the bottle out and turn the bottle on its side. Swing it lightly back and then BANG it against a wall. Watch as the water slowly changes color and turns to ice.

    Alternate Ending:

    Take a glass bowl and place a few ice cubes inside. Gently open the lid of your super cooled bottle of water. Slowly pour it onto the ice in the bowl. The liquid water should turn to ice as soon as it makes contact with ice cubes in the bowl. This means that you should be able to produce a tower of ice as you keep pouring.

    The Science:

    -When the bottles are super cooled, they are ready for a freezing catalyst. One theory is that the banging creates microscopic air bubbles near the surface in the bottles, and these bubbles act as the impurity/nucleation site.

    -Pouring liquid water that lands as solid ice – this works because of the ice cubes already in the bowl. One of the best nucleation sites that you can use to form ice crystals, is other ice crystals.
  • Fun With Physics
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

    Fun With Physics

    What You Need:

    For Experiment 1:
    -Empty Jam Jar

    Experiment 2:
    -Balloon or comb

    Experiment 3:

    What You Do:

    Experiment 1:

    Sticky Rice: Get a clean jam jar. Fill to the top with rice. Hold the jar firmly with one hand, push a pencil right to the bottom. Pull the pencil up slowly but not all the way out. Then push it back down again. If the rice level starts to drop, top off the rice. Eventually, the rice will compact around your pencil, and you will be able to lift the whole jar with the pencil. When this happens, the friction between the pencil and rice is so great that you cannot easily pull the pencil out!

    The Science:

    Every time you plunge the pencil into the rice, you are compressing the grains and making them pack more tightly together. The air gaps decrease in size and the rice grains rub against each other more. They can't move as freely and start to arrange in a pattern that doesn't change. The rice you could previously pour like a liquid becomes solid.

    With more grains of rice pressing onto the pencil, and each one of those more tightly packed in, the friction between the pencil and the rice increases. If the friction force between the rice and pencil equals the combined weight force of the rice and the container, then the balance of forces means the pencil is held in place. For the jar to lift as well, friction between its inside walls and the rice must also increase. This proves that the rice has moved and compacted, even where it wasn't disturbed it with the pencil.

    Experiment 2:

    Bend water with static electricity: Blow up a balloon or use a comb and rub it against your head to build up a static charge. Do this for several minutes to really get a decent charge. Then, turn a tap on: it should be on enough for a steady but slow stream of water to come out, not just drips. Bring the balloon close to the stream of water and observe what happens!

    The Science:
    When two objects are rubbed against each other, some of the electrons from one object jump to the other. The object that gains electrons becomes more negatively charged; the one that loses electrons becomes more positively charged. The opposite charges attract each other where you can actually see it.

    Experiment 3:

    Super bouncing: Do this outdoors with a lot of space. Grab a tennis ball. Drop it on the ground and see how high it bounces. Now grab a basketball. Drop it on the ground and see how high it bounces. Now put the tennis ball on top of the basketball; support the basketball with one hand and the tennis ball with the other. Drop your two balls at exactly the same time.

    The Science:
    When you drop the two balls together, they will separate just a little bit. The basketball will hit the ground first, and will rebound. As it is on the way up, it hits the tennis ball, which is still on its way down. So you have a head-on collision, between balls of very different masses. When this happens, a lot of the energy of the basketball gets transferred to the tennis ball, so watch out as the tennis will end up bouncing very high.
  • Rainbow Glass
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

    Rainbow Glass

    What You Need:

    -5 glasses
    -Food coloring
    -Patience and a steady hand

    What You Do:

    Line up the glasses and put three tablespoons of water into the first four glasses. Add one tablespoon of sugar to Glass #1, two to Glass #2, three to Glass #3, four to Glass #4. Stir thoroughly to dissolve the sugar. Now add a different color of food coloring to each glass. Pour 1/4 of Glass #4's contents into Glass #5.

    This gets a bit tricky, and you'll need some practice. You must pour the next layer (Glass #3) so gently that it doesn't mix with the first layer. You can put a teaspoon just above the first layer and pour the mixture gently over the back of the spoon to minimize splash. The more slowly you do this, the better the results. When you have filled the glass to about the same width as the last layer, repeat with Glass #2, and then with Glass #1.

    The Science:

    The different amounts of sugar in water create different densities of water. As you are layering them with the heaviest at the bottom, the different layers will 'sit' on top of each other. Eventually, due to particle dynamics, the layers will mix. The greater the difference in density, the longer the effect lasts. Unlike water and oil, however, once you mix the layers, they will not settle back.
  • Self Inflating Balloon
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

    Self Inflating Balloon

    What You Need:

    -A used, washed carbonated drink bottle (lid not required)
    -Latex balloon (thinner is better)
    -Elastic band
    -Measuring jug

    What You Do:

    Place 2 teaspoons of yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar and one cup of water into the bottle. Put the balloon over the top of the bottle and secure with the elastic band. Walk away... but keep a close watch on it.

    The Science:

    Yeast is actually a micro-organism, which will "eat" the sugar and respire. A product of respiration is carbon dioxide, which slowly fills up the balloon.
  • Make Your Own Lava Lamp
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

    Make Your Own Lava Lamp

    What You Need:

    -Transparent jar with an airtight lid (jam jar or similar)
    -Vegetable Oil
    -Food Coloring
    -Glitter (optional)

    What You Do:

    Fill the jar to around the 3/4 mark with water. Then add food coloring of your choice (a drop at a time) until you have your desired color. Add glitter (if you want). Fill your jar almost to the top with oil and leave for 15 minutes to settle. Then add teaspoons of salt – you will start to see a lava-lamp effect. Shine a flashlight through the jar and the effect is complete! When the salt dissolves, the oil will return to the surface. Add more salt to see the effect again.

    The Science:
    il is less dense than water, and so rests on top. When you add salt, it sticks to the oil; because salt is more dense than water, it sinks - when enough salt attaches to a blob of oil, the whole blob sinks. When the salt dissolves in the water, the oil's low density causes it to rise up again.
  • 6

    Elephant Toothpaste

    Warning: This one can get messy

    What You Need:

    -Carbonated drink bottle
    -Hydrogen peroxide 6%
    -Liquid dish soap 
    -Food coloring
    -Yeast (about 1 TBSP)
    -High-sided baking tray
    -A funnel

    What You Do:

    Dissolve 1 tablespoon of yeast in about 2 tablespoons of warm (but not hot) water; put the drink bottle into the baking tray. Add a few drops of coloring to the hydrogen peroxide, Pour 5 oz of hydrogen peroxide into the bottle (using the funnel), and add a squirt of dish soap. Pour your yeast mixture into the bottle – quickly take the funnel out!

    The Science:

    If left alone, hydrogen peroxide naturally breaks down into water and oxygen. The yeast acts as a catalyst, speeding up the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. The bottle will feel warm to touch as the reaction releases heat – it is exothermic.