BiteSize Science

When you can’t get to the Discovery Centre let us bring BiteSize Science to you with these easy at home experiments and fun using resources in your own home. Explore the science and technology all around you and most importantly STAY CURIOUS!

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

SOUND POLLUTION

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

SWIMMING BLADDER

SOUND SCIENCE

BLUBBER GLOVE

BAKING SODA BURP

BUBBLE SCIENCE

DISSOLVING CANDY

What will happen to candy when placed in water at different temperatures? 

You need:

  • Colourful coated candy (e.g. Skittles, M&M’s, etc.) 
  • White plate or container 
  • Water (hot and cold) 

Directions:

  • Place the candy into the plate or container. Try to make sure candies of the same colour are not beside each other. 
  • Carefully pour cold water into the plate/container. If the candies move from where you placed them, push them back where you’d like them. Wait a few minutes. 
  • Repeat this experiment with hot water instead of cold. See what the differences are in this temperature. 

What’s Happening?

Candy coating is made of food colouring and sugar. When they are placed in water, the soluble coating dissolves and diffuses through the water, making the water the same colour as the candy. Hot water molecules move around more than cold water molecules, which is why the colour will disperse more in hotter water. 

SELF-INFLATING BALLOON

How does the warming and cooling of air have an impact on weather conditions? 

You need:

  • Balloons 
  • Ice cubes 
  • 1 L containers (2) 
  • Pop bottle 
  • Warm and cold water 

Directions:

  • Place the balloon over the neck of the bottle and stand the bottle up in a container of warm water. Wait a few minutes and see how the balloon changes. 
  • Place the balloon and bottle into a container of ice-cold water. See how the balloon changes again. 
  • Repeat! 

What’s Happening? 

As the air inside the bottle warms up, it expands. This means it needs more space, and the only place it can go is into the balloon, causing it to stretch and inflate. When the bottle is put into cold water, the air cools down. This means it contracts and doesn’t need as much space, causing the balloon to lose air and deflate.  

DENSITY COLUMN

How does the density of solids and liquids affect how they react together in a container? 

You need: 

  • Vegetable oil 
  • Water 
  • Maple syrup or corn syrup
  • Small items to drop in like a grape, a small piece of cork, an ice cube, a small rock or a strawberry
  • A tall glass 

Directions:

  • Pour vegetable oil into the glass, so it is about ¼ full. Pour about the same amount of water and syrup into the glass. See what happens each time you add a new liquid. 
  • Drop the grape, cork, ice cube, rock, strawberry, and anything else you’d like to experiment with into the glass. See where each object lands in the liquids. 

What’s Happening?

The heavier the liquid, the more mass per unit volume, which we call density. The more weight packed into a given volume, the more dense it is. Liquids of different densities do not mix well, which causes the less dense liquids to sit on top of the more dense liquids. The same is true for the objects. The grape and rock are more dense than the ice cube, resulting in them both sinking to the bottom with the syrup while the ice cube is able to float in the less dense liquid. 

DIY PLAY DOUGH

The science of play dough.

You need:

  • 1 Cup plain flour
  • 1/4 Cup table salt
  • 1/3 Cup hot water (not boiling)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • Food colouring
  • Bowl
  • Airtight container for storage

Directions:

  • Combine flour and salt in the bowl. Add the food colouring to the hot water.
  • Pour the coloured water into the bowl, add the oil and mix thoroughly.
  • Once cool, dump the dough onto counter/table and knead it for several minutes until smooth and pliable. If the dough is too runny add more flour, if too crumbly add more water.
  • Store dough when not in use in the airtight container.

What’s Happening?

When you mix all the ingredients together you create a chemical reaction. Adding water to the flour allows long chain-like molecules in the flour (called proteins) to stick together, which helps to hold the water in place and keep the dough together. The oil coats the other ingredients and keeps the play dough from drying out.

ICE CREAM IN A BAG

A fun spring science treat.

You need:

  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 1 Tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 Tsp sugar
  • 1 Sandwich sized zip-up baggie
  • 1 Gallon sized zip-up baggie
  • 1 Tray of ice
  • 8 Tbsp of salt (rock salt works best, but table salt is okay)
  • Warm gloves or oven mits

Directions:

  • Pour the cream into the sandwich baggie, add the vanilla and sugar. Gently squeeze the air out and seal the top of the bag. Add half the salt and ice to the gallon-sized baggie.
  • Place the sealed sandwich size baggie into the gallon baggie and add the rest of the salt and ice on top. Gently squeeze out the air and seal the gallon baggie.  
  • Put on gloves, and shake the bag, for about 5-10 minutes, until the ice cream has firmed up.
  • Take the sandwich baggie out, rinse off the salt, unseal, and enjoy!
  • If you want different flavours of ice cream, try adding cocoa powder, mint flavouring or other add-ins to the cream at the beginning.  

What’s Happening? 

By adding salt to the ice you are lowering the freezing temperature of the water. This allows the temperature of the ice and salt mixture to get colder and freeze the cream.

KINETIC SAND

Another non-Newtonian fluid!

You need: 

  • 1/2 Cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 Cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup
  • Bowl
  • Spoon or spatula

Directions:

  • Mix the cornmeal and flour together in the bowl. Stir in the oil then add the corn syrup and mix until blended. 
  • Adjust the amount of corn syrup or cornmeal as needed, you want the sand to feel grainy and crumble under pressure, but also be moldable
  • Put the sand into a container and use small beach toys to build a sandcastle! 

What’s Happening?

Kinetic sand is an example of a non-Newtonian fluid. When you increase the stress on it (squeeze it into a beach toy) it increases its viscosity and feels solid. When you release the stress on it, it flows and feels like a liquid. 

OOBLECK

What is a non-newtonian fluid?

You need:

  • Cornstarch 
  • Water 
  • Food Dye (optional) 

Directions:

  • Mix 1 part water to 1.5-2 parts cornstarch.
  • For colourful oobleck, mix in a few drops of food dye.
  • Once mixed try squishing the oobleck in your first, or hitting it with a spoon.

What’s Happening?

You’ve just created a “non-Newtonian” fluid, a material that acts like a liquid if you pour it, and then like a solid if force is applied!  

SNOW STORM IN A JAR

See how chemistry creates a fun effect.

You need:

  • Baby oil (you can use vegetable oil as well but the liquid will be yellow)
  • White paint
  • Alka-Seltzer tablets
  • Clear glass jar
  • Paper towel or tissue paper

Directions:

  •   
  •  

What’s Happening? 

LIGHT, COLOUR & WATER

What colours absorb more heat?

You need: 

  • 2 identical drinking glasses or jars
  • Water
  • Thermometer
  • 2 elastic bands or some clear tape
  • White paper and black paper

Directions:

  • Wrap the white paper around one of the glasses using an elastic band or tape to hold it on.
  • Do the same with the black paper and the other glass.
  • Fill the glasses with the exact same amount of water.
  • Leave the glasses out in the sun for a couple of hours before returning to measure the temperature of the water in each.

What’s Happening?

Dark surfaces (like black paper) absorb more light and heat than lighter ones (like white paper). After measuring the temperatures of the water, the glass with the black paper around it should be hotter than the other glass. Lighter surfaces reflect more light, that’s why people wear lighter colored clothes in the summer.

MAGICAL DANCING POPCORN

See the popcorn kernels “dance” up and down the glass.

You need:

  • Unpopped popcorn kernels
  • A clear carbonated beverage, like club soda
  • A clear glass

Directions:

  • Fill a transparent glass with a clear carbonated beverage, like club soda.
  • Drop in about ten popcorn kernels.
  • Watch them dance!

What’s Happening?

The bubbles in carbonated drinks are bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. The popcorm kernels will sink to the bottom at first, but then start to accumulate bubbles! When an individual kernel accumulates enough bubbles, it becomes buoyant and rises to the top of the glass. At the top, the bubble pop, the kernel can no longer float, and it sinks back to the bottom. The cycle then repeats, creating the “dancing”.

WALKING RAINBOW

See if you can have the colours moving!

You need:

  • Six clear glasses or clear jars
  • Water
  • Red, yellow and blue food colouring
  • Paper towel

Directions:

  • Place the six glasses in a circle on the table.
  • Fill glassess 1, 3, and 5 most of the way with water.
  • Add red food colouring to glass 1, yellow food colouring to glass 3 and blue food colouring to glass 5. Add lots of colour to make the colours nice and dark (around 10 drops of colour per glass).
  • Take a sheet of paper towel and fold it in half width wise 3 times to make a long rectangle.
  • Put one end of the towel into glass 1 and the other side in the next glass.
  • Repeat with the remaining glasses until each glass has two ends of paper towel in it 

What’s Happening? 

Capillary Action is when a liquid moves up something solid (in this case a paper towel). This happens when 3 forces called cohesion, adhesion, and surface tension work together. Water molecules are considered cohesive (sticky to each other) and they adhere (stick) to the paper towel. As one water molecule moves up the paper towel it pulls the other molecules with it

BIRD FEEDER PINE CONES

Make a bird feeder out of a pine cone.

You need: 

  • Pine Cones
  • Peanut Butter
  • Small Bowls
  • Popsicle Stick
  • Paper Plate or Tray
  • Bird Seed
  • Twine or String

Directions:

  • Place the pine cone onto the paper plate and spread peanut butter on it using the popsicle stick.
  • Sprinkle the bird seed on the pine cone so it sticks to the peanut butter.
  • Tie the twine or string around the top of the pine cone and hang it from a tree or hook.

What’s Happening?

Before you know it, your new feeder will be a hotspot for chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, crossbills, woodpeckers, and other birds.

SEED PAPER

A perfect spring activity!

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You need:

  • Blender
  • Seeds
  • Scrap paper/Newspaper
  • Dishtowel or old t-shirt
  • Water
  • Spoon
  • Small bowl/tray
  • Strainer
  • Silicone baking molds 

Directions:

  • Tear up paper into small pieces and soak it in warm water for 10 minutes.
  • Put the paper mixture in a blender and blend until pulp forms*. Place old t-shirt/dishtowel in a strainer and place the strainer in a sinkPour the paper pulp into the strainer.
  • Mix in 1-2 tsp of seeds. You don’t want to add too many seeds or they won’t grow very well.
  • Gather up the cloth and pulp mixture and wring all the water out. 
  • Press the seed mixture into small balls, or use silicone mold for fun shapes!
  • Once the seed bombs are formed, use cloth again to pat out any excess moisture. Let the seeds bombs dry overnight.
  • The seed paper is ready to be planted! Place it on the surface of the soil and sprinkle about one-quarter-inch thick layer of soil on top. Water the soil lightly and keep the seeds wet until they sprout. 

What’s Happening?

When the seed paper is planted in a pot of soil, the seeds grow and the paper composts away. All that is left behind is flowers, herbs or vegetables, and no waste.

*An adult should always help with this step and proper safety should be observed.

COLLAPSING CAN

Experimenting with air pressure.

You need:

  • Empty Pop Can
  • Tongs
  • Ice Water
  • Stovetop 

Directions:

  • With the help of an adult, add a small amount of water to your empty pop can.
  • Heat the can on high heat on the stovetop. Once you see wisps of steam rising the can is ready to be flipped*.
  • Using tongs flip the can and dunk it mouth side down into a bowl of ice water*.
  • NOTE: the collapsing can may make a fairly loud noise when imploding 

What’s Happening? 

When you heated the can you caused the water in it to boil, and the vapour from the boiling water pushed air out of the can. Then you cooled it suddenly by inverting it in water. Cooling the can cause the water vapour in the can to condense, creating a partial vacuum. The extremely low pressure of the partial vacuum inside the can made it possible for the pressure of the air outside the can to crush it.

*An adult should always help with this step and proper safety should be observed.

BOUNCING EGGS

How can chemistry dissolve an egg shell?

You need: 

  • Egg
  • Vinegar (enough to fill cup)
  • Cup or jar
  • Food colouring (optional) 

Directions:

  • Place the raw egg into the cup or jar and pour in enough vinegar to fully cover the egg. You can also add food colouring to this step. You will notice a lot of foam and bubbles.
  • Let it sit for 24-48 hours. Once the bubbles slow down carefully remove the egg from the jar. 
  • Rinse the egg in the sink and carefully rub off the shell. Try gently dropping the egg and watch it bounce! 
  • Note: The egg will eventually burst open so do this somewhere easy to clean like in the sink.  

What’s Happening?

The shell is dissolved by the vinegar through a chemical reaction. The calcium carbonate (in the shell) and the acetic acid (in the vinegar) react creating carbon dioxide, which you can see as bubbles on the surface of the egg, and dissolve the shell. Once the shell is gone your egg will be left inside of a semi-permeable membrane that you can bounce and squish 

THE LEAKPROOF BAG

Learn about polymer chains.

You need:

  • One zip-close polyethylene bag (Ziploc is one brand), half full of water and zipped shut
  • A couple of sharp pencils
  • Just to be safe, a sink

Directions:

  • Fill a plastic bag about half full of water. Stand over the sink!
  • Take a sharp pencil and give it a deliberate push so it pierces both sides of the bag. The bag remains sealed!
  • You can keep adding pencils and the bag will stay sealed (don’t be too violent, as that usually creates a larger tear).

What’s Happening?

The plastic bag is made of polyethylene molecule chains which are long and springy and will easily keep the bag tightly wrapped around the pencils when they pass through. There is just enough natural stretch in the chains to keep the bag watertight, as long as you are careful when pushing the sharp pencil through!

INVISIBLE INK

See how oxidization can reveal secret messages.

You need:

  • Lemon
  • Water
  • Cotton Swab
  • Paper
  • Lightbulb

Directions:

  • Squeeze lemon juice into a bowl and add a few drops of water.
  • Dip a cotton swab into the mixture and write a message onto a piece of white paper.
  • Wait for the juice to dry so it becomes completely invisible.
  • When you are ready to read your secret message or show it to someone else, heat the paper by holding it close to a light bulb.*

What’s Happening? 

Lemon juice is an organic substance that oxidizes and turns brown when heated. Diluting the lemon juice in water makes it very hard to notice when you apply it the paper, so no one will be aware of its presence until it is heated and the secret message is revealed.

*An adult should always help with this step and proper safety should be observed.

MIXING OIL & WATER

Can water and oil ever be friends?

oil and water experiment for kids

You need: 

  • Small soft drink bottle
  • Water
  • Food colouring
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil

Directions:

  • Add a few drops of food colouring to the water.
  • Pour about 2 tablespoons of the coloured water along with the 2 tablespoons of cooking oil into the small soft drink bottle.
  • Screw the lid on tight and shake the bottle as hard as you can.
  • Put the bottle back down and have a look, it may have seemed as though the liquids were mixing together but the oil will float back to the top.

What’s Happening?

Water and oil molecules have such different forms that while they are very strongly attracted to to their own molecules, they just don’t mix together. Instead, they stay separate, and the oil, which has lower density, floats above the water.

POM POM POPPER

Harness the power of potential and kinetic energy.

You need:

  • Plastic cup or empty yogurt container
  • Balloon
  • Pom poms (or mini marshmallows)
  • Scissors

Directions:

  • Carefully cut off the bottom third of your plastic cup
  • Tie a knot in the open end of your balloon and then cut off 1 cm from the top
  • Stretch the cut end of the balloon over the wider side of the cup
  • Place your pom poms (or marshmallows) inside the open end of the cup, pull back on the knotted balloon, and release to launch!

What’s Happening?

The balloon is elastic and stretchy, and acts as a great sink for potential energy! When you pull back on the balloon, you are filling it with potential energy, which converts to kinetic energy when you release it and allow the balloon to bounce back into shape. All of that kinetic energy strikes your pom pom and sends it flying!

MILK FIREWORKS

Make an explosion of colour!

You need:

  • Plate
  • Milk
  • Dish soap
  • Liquid food dye
  • Toothpick or Cotton swab

Directions:

  • Fill a plate or shallow bowl with enough milk to cover the bottom.
  • Add a few drops of liquid food dye to different spots in the milk.
  • Dip the end of a toothpick or cotton swab into a small amount of dish soap
  • Using your toothpick or q-tip touch the spots of dye and watch the colours burst!

What’s Happening? 

When we drop a little bit of soap into the dish, the soap molecules race towards the milk fats mixed within the water of the milk. By adding the food colouring, we can see the route the soap molecules take.

TIE DYE BABY WIPES

Create a masterpiece with solubility and impermeability.

You need: 

  • Baby wipes
  • Rubberbands
  • Washable Markers
  • Paper towels

Directions:

  • Grab a fresh baby wipe, pinch the centre, and twist it to form a rod shape.
  • Attach a few rubberbands along the length of the wipe and use washable markers to colour in each of the segments.
  • When you’re all done, carefully remove the rubber bands, gently unfold the wipe, and place it on top of some paper towel until it dries.

What’s Happening?

When two liquids are soluble, they’re able to mix together, just like what we see happen between the inks of our different markers. An impermeable material, on the other hand, won’t let a given liquid pass through it. In this case, the rubberbands act a barrier and won’t let ink through, leaving behind a tie dye pattern!

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