What are cool and inexpensive home science experiments I can do to blow my child's mind?

ProjectA Quora user posted the following question: "What are cool and inexpensive home science experiments I can do to blow my son's mind?" He got a bunch of great answers, including this video of a girl explaining how to suck a hard boiled egg into a bottle. She is delighted with the results, and I laughed right along with her. Other ideas include a homopolar motor, collecting micrometeorites from your roof, and making a pickle glow.

What are cool and inexpensive home science experiments I can do to blow my child's mind?


  1. Crush a pop can with air.

    Materials:  a pop can (empty), tongs capable of gripping the pop can, a bowl of ice water.

    Put about a tablespoon of water in the pop can.  Set it directly on a stove burner and heat it until steam comes out the opening.  Pick up the can with the tongs.  Invert it, put the open end of the can into the ice water.  There’s a loud bang as the can is crushed.

    It works because the expanding water vapor in the can replaced the air in the can.  When you remove it from the heat and cool the can, the water vapor condenses, leaving a vacuum inside the can.  If you have covered up the opening so air can’t rush back into the can, it just gets smashed by air pressure.

    Takes more time to explain than to execute.

  2. Was I the only one who got a little annoyed at the father for insisting the girl explain “what happened” instead of letting her enjoy the moment (and the unexpected results of !SCIENCE!)?

    There’s a time and a place for everything, and “teaching” science shouldn’t get in the way of *enjoying* science, especially for kids.

    My father, a physics professor, didn’t set up “experiments” for me when I was a kid.

    But what he did instead was even better. He got a huge, strong magnet–strong enough that 7-year-old me had trouble removing it from the metal door, strong enough that it warped old CRTs and erased HDs from the outside–and after giving me a few safety tips, let me play with it as much as I wanted. Usually, I would alternate between going through things in his lab (except the obviously valuable lab stuff and equipment) to see what it would stick to and dumping all his office supplies on the ground and playing “Alien UFO.” Kept me entertained for *hours.*

    Later he would introduce me to the “bar magnet + iron filings” demo and similar stuff, and I learned plenty about proper experimental procedure in middle and high school, but until then? It was just ****ing magic.

  3. A Granular Maxwell’s Demon can be built with basic kitchen implements:
    -put a cardboard partition (up to about half the glass height) into a water glass
    -fill the bottom of each half with an equal amount of grains (rice, millet, poppy, couscous, quinoa…)
    -shake.  Experiment with amplitude and frequency.
    -With the proper parameters, the grains will magically recede into one half.
    You could also go for the over the top science fair version, 

    but the quick and dirty approach works fine…

Comments are closed.