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!

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.

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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