Possibly Messy Science Activities to Do With Kids

In the immortal words of Alice Cooper, “School’s Out Forever!” Play that song and let the kids jump around the living room while you commiserate with your friends on Zoom.

Really, the kids will be fine. Hey, now you can play The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright.” Or, you can just say, “OK, Boomer,” to me, and I’ll stop pulling the golden oldies out of my head. “Goin’ Out of My Head Over You.” Ahhh, I can’t stop.

Moving on. I feel your pain. It’s hard to work at home with the kids constantly asking for snacks and screen time. I worked at home when my kids were little, and it’s not easy. I’m getting PTSD just thinking about the summers. One time, two of my kids were fighting over cooking a frozen pizza, and the other had gotten through to the Diane Rehm Show (it is now “1a”) on NPR to ask a question about Madame Bovary. She had to go into the closet to talk on the phone so as not to be disturbed by her siblings’ bickering. Late nights and lack of sleep were my constant companions. I don’t think I had a full night’s sleep for about 12 years.

And, I know there can be a lot of guilt involved if your friends are posting their days full of educational activities on Instagram while you’re still in you pajamas handing out Pop-Tarts. Here’s a creative idea. Just push all that stuff piled up on your home desk or table onto the floor, clean the drool off your laptop so it’s all shiny, and place it at an attractive angle on the desk. If possible, find a clever mug or a small vase with a flower or even a hipster succulent and place it beside the computer. Bribe your kids to play happily nearby with a puzzle or a game – even better, have them reading books. Get the lighting right and take a picture. Post it on Instagram with #sighworkingfromhome or #quarantineday12 or #kidsathomesohard. If you do this a few times, your friends will stop looking at your Instagram and you can go on with your untidy life.

I’m going to take a picture of my desk at the office right now, just to make you feel better — and I don’t have kids pestering me every five minutes. I have no excuse except deadlines and the Coronavirus crises closing all of our distribution outlets, but my goal is to clean it up today. Hey, we’re a small business. It’s tough out there.

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In the meantime, here are some fun science experiments that you can do with your kids when they start the “I’m bored” routine. I’ll be doing these from my office tomorrow morning, March 26, and you can see them on Good Day Tulsa, KTUL between 9 and 10 a.m. (I’ll try to get that desk cleaned off before tomorrow.)


You will need:

  • One small empty plastic soda or water bottle
  • Vinegar
  • Balloon, small-ish
  • Baking soda
  • Funnel or a helper

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Pour some vinegar into the bottle until it’s about half full. Loosen up the balloon by stretching it, blowing it up and letting the air out. Using the funnel or a helper who can hold the top open, spoon baking soda into the balloon until it’s about halfway full.

Place the mouth of the balloon over the neck of the bottle without letting any of the baking soda get into the bottle.

Get ready! Lift the balloon so the baking soda falls into the bottle. It will mix with the vinegar and inflate your balloon!

How It Works: The baking soda and vinegar are working together to create carbon dioxide, a gas. The gas needs room to expand and it starts to fill the bottle, then moves into the balloon. This is an ACID-BASE reaction.


You will need:

  • A plate or flat tray
  • Food coloring (3 or more colors)
  • Whole milk
  • Liquid dish washing soap

Carefully pour the milk into the plate or tray so it just covers the surface. Add a couple of drops of each color of food coloring to the middle of the plate, not on top of each other. Add a few drops of liquid dish washing soap to the drops of food coloring and watch them swirl into fun patterns.

How It Works: Dish soap is made to break down fat which is usually on top of the dishes that we’re washing. Fat is also in whole milk. When you drop the liquid soap onto the milk in the tray, it tries to break down the fat in the milk, making the colors scatter and twirl.


You will need:

  • Water
  • A clear plastic bottle with a cap (that won’t leak)
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Dish washing liquid

Fill the plastic bottle with water until it reaches around three quarters full. Add a few drops of dish washing liquid. Sprinkle in some glitter. Replace the cap and screw on tight. Turn the bottle upside down and hold it by the neck. Quickly spin the bottle in a circular motion for a few seconds, stop and look inside to see if you can see a mini tornado forming in the water.

How It Works: Spinning the bottle in a circular motion creates a water vortex that looks like a tiny tornado. The water is spinning around the center of the vortex due to centripetal force. Vortexes in nature include tornadoes, hurricanes and waterspouts.

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Categories: Editor’s Blog