Today is a typical scorching summer day – hot sun, high humidity and no wind. Most moms face the sometimes daunting challenge of how to keep their kids entertained and/or actively learning during the summer months. I am no different and today I found myself still unpacking, cleaning and sorting lots of laundry after our family vacation. It’s the first normal day post vacation – my husband went back to work and we have nothing on our calendar for the first time all summer.
I found a simple and inexpensive science experiment which turned out to be a big hit with my kids and their two friends. I expected a mere 30 minutes of fun (tops) but it lasted almost an hour and we only stopped because we ran out of baking soda and vinegar. Sometimes it’s the simplest things kids enjoy the most. We made Bubble Bombs and Mini Volcanoes using those 2 ingredients, plus food coloring to make it more creative. Both experiments work because carbon dioxide forms when the vinegar reacts with the baking soda. That’s the science part I tried to explain to the kids.
For the Bubble Bombs, combine 1/2 cup of vinegar with ¼ cup of water in a Ziploc bag that does not leak. You can put a few drops of food coloring in the liquid if you want (my 3 year old loved this part – she chose her own colors and liked seeing the water turn colors). On a paper towel, place 1 ½ tablespoons of baking soda in the center and fold it up on all four sides. This is your time release packet. The trickiest part is placing this packet into the Ziploc bag and closing it tightly and quickly before the fizzing starts. I found that to be just about impossible. So a little of the fizz leaked out of all of our bags before we threw them on the driveway and stepped back. But the bags still gassed up with carbon dioxide and about a minute later, pop! The anticipation of the mini explosion created great excitement in our driveway.
The mini volcanoes are even simpler. Take a poster board and liberally sprinkle it with baking soda so it’s covered. We put ours in the driveway to minimize mess. Give each child a small plastic cup filled with vinegar (any amount) and let each one choose their color using a few drops of food coloring added to the vinegar cups. Then each child slowly lets the vinegar drip out onto the poster board.
Baking soda: 52 cents
Vinegar: $1 a bottle
Poster board: 32 cents
Food coloring $1.25 at Ocean State Job Lot for pack of four
Total cost: Priceless when you see the excitement on your children’s faces. Now that’s worth standing and sweating in the sweltering sun for.