Making Science Fun for Your Kids with Things in Your Kitchen

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"Science doesn't need fancy chemicals to do it home! Many need ingredients in your kitchen can teach concepts like mixing and reactions to your child." -Dr. Stephanie Ryan

COVID-19 brought with it a myriad of changes and challenges — some good and some bad. The downside of this unanticipated pandemic was the negative impact on the economy as well as the risk it presented on the public’s health and overall quality of life. Although the pandemic has presented many negative challenges, with every negative, there is a positive. COVID-19 has caused many people to trade in their office life to adjust to the new normal of working at home. However, working from home granted parents more access to their children’s schooling, especially those who participated in virtual learning. Stephanie Ryan, an educator who received her Ph.D. in learning sciences, is on a one-woman mission to find a way to help parents make science fun for their kids by using items in their kitchen.

Dr. Stephanie Ryan has an extensive background in chemistry and biology and enjoys applying her practice to create different learning experiences and products. Dr. Ryan is a mother who was inspired by her son to share fun and easy experiments that can be done from home. With a few ingredients parents likely already have in the kitchen and some virtual guidance from Dr. Ryan, they can transform their kitchens into mini science laboratories. These activities are perfect for children learning from home, a fun weekend, or afterschool activity that will encourage science, chemistry, reasoning skills, and learning. 

Some of the science experiments for kids ages four to six that Dr. Ryan shares include:

Dancing Raisins

With warm water, baking soda, vinegar, and raisins, a chemical reaction causes raisins to “dance”.

What you need:

  •     A glass
  •     Warm water
  •     Two teaspoons of baking soda
  •     Vinegar
  •     Raisins
  •     A tray

Instructions:

  1. Put warm water into the glass, filling it about halfway.
  2. Place the glass inside the tray.
  3. Add the baking soda to the warm water in the cup.
  4. Add the raisins.
  5. Fill the cup with vinegar.
  6. Watch them dance!

Optional: Add a balloon and use a bottle to collect the gas as an extension!  

Baking Soda and Vinegar Reaction

Baking soda and vinegar cause a chemical reaction that creates bubbles. It gives kids a good opportunity to think about what is inside the bubbles and even guide them to design an experiment that could capture that gas.

What you need:

  •     Baking soda
  •     Vinegar
  •     Large clear bowl

Instructions

  1. Put the baking soda into the bowl.
  2. Slowly pour in the vinegar until the mixture is bubbling, but not overflowing.
  3. Enjoy watching the bubbles pop and fizzle!

Blowing up Balloons

Blow up balloons without air in this experiment. Lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar mixed with baking soda create a chemical reaction that will inflate the balloon.

What you need:

  •     An empty plastic bottle
  •     Lemon juice
  •     Lime juice
  •     Vinegar
  •     Baking soda
  •     Balloons
  •     Funnel or spoon

Instructions:

  1. Stretch the balloon a bit first, making it easier to inflate.
  2. Fill your bottle or jar about one-quarter full of lemon juice.
  3. Use funnel to tip the baking soda into the neck of the balloon. If using a spoon, gently spoon baking soda into the balloon (this will be messier than the funnel!).
  4. Place the lip of the balloon over the top of the bottle, taking care NOT to spill the baking soda. When you’re ready, tip the balloon up so the baking soda drops into the lemon juice.
  5. Watch the balloon inflate.
  6. Do the experiment again with fresh materials and using lime juice instead of lemon juice, and then, again with vinegar.

Along with these exciting experiments, Dr. Stephanie Ryan also wrote a book titled, Let’s Learn About Chemistry. “The book is inspired by my son playing a comparison game and my love of chemistry,” said Dr. Ryan. With the goal of introducing young scientists to key concepts and vocabulary using everyday objects, this book allows kids to have fun while still learning. Let’s Learn About Chemistry was released on June 2, 2020. 

You can connect with Dr. Stephanie Ryan from her Website or Instagram