Kid experiments with food
You can do fun, simple science experiments with ingredients from your kitchen.
One of the things I've enjoyed most about homeschooling my kids is doing science experiments together. There's something magical about watching a homemade volcano explode, or mixing chemicals and waiting for the reaction. The really cool thing is that you don't have to have a bunch of fancy supplies to do experiments at home. There are some simple, fun kid experiments with food – usually items you can find in your own pantry or grocery store.
Some of our most basic foods – like bread and butter – wouldn't exist without chemical reactions. You can demonstrate how yeast makes bread rise with this simple experiment.
1 teaspoon yeast
3 to 4 teaspoons sugar
Small lemonade or soda bottle
First, pour the yeast and sugar into the bottom of the lemonade bottle.
Add warm water until the bottle is about half full.
Place the balloon over the neck of the bottle.
Put the balloon-topped bottle into a saucepan of warm water, and keep the water warm for about 30 minutes.
Watch what happens to the balloon!
As the yeast breaks down the sugar, it produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. The increase in the gas causes the balloon to fill. This reaction between the sugar and yeast in bread causes the bread to rise. And don't worry; when you cook the bread, the alcohol that is produced by the yeast is cooked away.
How does cream turn into butter? Try this experiment to find out.
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
Small jar with lid, like from baby food
First, fill your jar about 1/3 full with whipping cream; screw lid on tight.
Secure the outside of the lid with masking tape to prevent leaks.
Have your kids take turn shaking the jar until the butterfat solids separate from the milk liquid. This will take about ten minutes.
The whipping cream contains two kinds of molecules: butterfat molecules and water molecules. The butterfat molecules float in the water; this is called suspension. As you shake the jar, the butterfat molecules bump into each other and stick together, making bigger and bigger clumps of butterfat. The liquid left in the jar contains the water molecules. Your butter is now ready to eat, but it will taste different than store-bought butter, which has added salt.
Large clear drinking glass
A few pieces of spaghetti
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vinegar
First, fill the glass with water and mix in the baking soda.
Add a teaspoon of vinegar to make the water fizz.
Add a couple pieces of spaghetti and watch as they dance up and down in the glass.
When vinegar and baking soda are combined, they have a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide – the same gas you breathe out when you exhale. The gas forms tiny bubbles in the water, which will grab on to anything they contact. As the bubbles grab on to the spaghetti, the gas bubbles lift the spaghetti up. When the spaghetti reaches the top of the glass, some of the gas bubbles are released into the air, allowing the spaghetti to fall back down. Then the process repeats itself.
As you can see, it can be simple and fun to do science experiments with your kids – and you don't have to have a bunch of scientific supplies. If you're interested in even more kid experiments with food, I recommend the book Food and Nutrition for Every Kid: Easy Activities That Make Learning Science Fun by Janice Van Cleave.