Ten great science projects you can do with your kids

Are these groceries or scientific supplies? BOTH.

Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, science class was always the place we could count on having a little fun. Where else would we get the chance to build a volcano with vinegar and baking soda, conjure electricity from a pickle, or launch potatoes out of an air cannon?

Right now, though, children are at home all day, and parents and caretakers may be desperate for ways to keep their little gears turning. So we’ve prepared a full slate of activities to help you out: 10 hands-on science projects you can do with your kids. If you do one a day, that’s almost two weeks of educational fun.

Beyond the classic how-to, every experiment will come with an explanation of the scientific principles involved. That way, when your kid asks you why you’re making them cover their hands in shortening, you’ll have a good answer.

And don’t worry if you don’t have a potato cannon lying around: We’ve made sure everything you’ll need is both cheap and easy to find on your next trip to the grocery store. That is, if you don’t have supplies in the house already.

Check out the full shopping list below, plus the project schedule and the tools you’ll need for each one.

Shopping list

  • Granulated sugar
  • Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Vanilla extract
  • Food coloring
  • Shortening
  • Salt (preferably large-grained)
  • Birthday candles (optional for Day 3)
  • Coffee beans or instant coffee (optional for Day 7)
  • Graham crackers
  • Marshmallows
  • A chocolate bar
  • Eggs
  • Half-and-half (or milk and heavy cream)
  • Lemon (or milk)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Quart-sized plastic zip-top sandwich bags
  • Gallon-sized plastic zip-top sandwich bags
  • Shaving cream (not gel)
  • Dish soap
  • A Snapple (or anything in a glass bottle with a similar-sized mouth)
  • Gummy bears

Day 1: whip up a storm in a glass

Make it rain (indoors) and see how weather really works. >>

  • Shaving cream
  • Food coloring
  • A drinking glass
  • A spoon
  • A cup, bowl, or some other container

Day 2: write with invisible ink

Feel like a secret agent with this how-to. >>

  • Lemon (or milk)
  • Paper
  • Cotton swab
  • Heat source

Day 3: use fire to push an egg into a bottle

Come check out the project and the science. >>

  • A metal pot
  • At least one egg
  • Glass bottle with a mouth slightly smaller than the egg
  • Matches (or small birthday candles)

Day 4: craft handmade blubber

Get your hands dirty (but not too dirty) with this simple experiment. >>

  • Shortening
  • A large bowl
  • Ice cubes

Day 5: make ice cream in a bag

Science can sometimes be utterly delicious. >>

  • Half-and-half (or milk and heavy cream)
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Quart-sized plastic zip-top sandwich bags
  • Gallon-sized plastic zip-top sandwich bags
  • Salt (preferably large-grained)
  • Ice cubes

Day 6: bulk up a few gummy bears

Learn how your cells work and have a treat at the end. >>

  • Gummy bears
  • Salt
  • Bowls (or cups)

Day 7: create fossilized footprints

Leave some tracks of your own. >>

  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Coffee grounds
  • Bowl
  • Mixing spoon

Day 8: mix up some dish soap Silly Putty

You’ll only need two ingredients for this homemade version of Silly Putty. >>

  • Dish soap
  • Corn starch
  • Large bowl

Day 9: grow a bit of rock candy

This is a truly sweet project. >>

  • Granulated sugar
  • Food coloring
  • Clothespin
  • Wooden stick
  • A metal pot

Day 10: build a solar oven for s’mores

Harness the awesome power of the sun for the final project in this series. >>

  • Cardboard box
  • Black paper
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Graham crackers
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate
  • Tape
  • Wooden stick
  • Scissors
John Kennedy

John Kennedyis PopSci's DIY editor. He previously covered legal news for Law360 and, before that, local news at the Journal Inquirer in Connecticut. He has also built and remodeled houses, worked as a fencing coach, and shelved books at a library. When he's not taking things apart or putting them back together, he's playing sports, cooking, baking, or immersed in a video game. Contact the author here.