When I am continuously going over worksheets or books with my elementary class, I notice my students long and bored faces. Because of this, I try to integrate at least one science experiment into my weekly schedule to keep the children entertained, engaged, and focused. The objective is to spice things up every once in awhile to keep my classroom fun.
The future is dependent on humans that know how to use science to make sound decisions as well as to take part in cultural, political, and civic conversations. With that being said, I wanted to help other teachers around the world learn how to introduce science in fun and interactive ways for their elementary-aged students. Therefore, I am sharing my ultimate list of 14 science experiments for elementary school in this article.
This is how experiments are held at Northridge Elementary School
WOW! The 5th graders at Northridge Elementary School participated in our lesson NEWTON’S 2nd LAW OF MOTION. Their experiments helped them understand force, mass, and acceleration. https://t.co/IRMc0iv6RJ pic.twitter.com/a93gleNPnL
— WPAFB EO Office (@wpafbeo) March 2, 2022
After reading this article, you will officially know:
- The ultimate list of best science experiments for elementary school→
- The benefits of doing science experiments in elementary school→
- The safety measures that should be implemented for elementary school students participating in science experiments→
- Make a Tornado in a Jar →
- Create a Rain Cloud in a Jar →
- Make a Volcano →
- Make Slime →
- Watch Crayons Melt to Form Art →
- Make a Lava Lamp →
- Create a Lemon Battery →
- Make Ice Cream in a Ziplock Bag →
- Make Your Pennies Shiny and Clean →
- Make Your Lunch Bag Explode →
- Blow Up a Balloon →
- Turn Milk to Plastic →
- Watch a Paperclip Float →
- Fly Paper Airplanes →
To my surprise, there are so many different science experiments to choose from with this age group. In fact, I have tried out probably over 50 this year alone. I watched my students’ impressions and interactions when it came to each, which led me to making this list of best experiments for elementary school. Below, I will list the top 14 experiments that I feel like my class of elementary-aged students liked the best. If you are new to trying experiments with your students, I suggest starting with these first.
- Empty jar or bottle
- Dish soap
- Fill the jar or bottle ¾ full of water
- Add a small drop of dish soap
- Put a small teaspoon of glitter inside
- Tightly screw the top on and watch the tornado form
For a quick video showing you how to make a tornado in a jar or bottle, watch LAB 360’s YouTube video. This video shows how the cool experiment is supposed to play out, which you can show your students before beginning. It will give them an idea as well as fill them with excitement for what is going to happen.
Next, let’s make a cloud.
- Shaving Cream
- Food Coloring
1.Pour water into the jar
2.Put a decent amount of shaving cream in the water
3.Explain to the students that the shaving cream is the cloud that formed from dust particles
4.Add droplets of the food coloring
5.Watch it begin to rain like a real cloud
- Baking soda
- Plastic Cup
- Orange food coloring (or red and yellow mixed together)
- Plastic tray or dish
1.Pour baking soda about halfway into a beaker
2.Pour vinegar into a plastic cup
3.Add the food coloring into the vinegar to make it orange
4.Place everything onto the plastic tray to prevent messes
5.Pour the vinegar into the beakers that contain baking soda
6.Watch the volcanic eruption
- 2 bottles of school glue
- Liquid watercolors of the student’s choice
- 1 cup of liquid starch
- Pour both bottle of school glue into a bowl or container
- Pour the glitter in
- Add the liquid watercolor
- Pour in the liquid starch and stir it all together
- Tell the students to knead it with their hands
- Begin playing with your slime
- Cardboard box
- Aluminum foil
- Cover part of a cardboard box with aluminum foil
- Place pieces of cardboard inside the box
- Tell students to arrange the crayons onto the cardboard the way that they would like
- Place everything directly under the sun and wait about 20 minutes
- You should come back to melted crayons that have formed pictures that almost look like paintings
- Empty bottle
- Food coloring
- Alka seltzer tablets
- Fill the bottle 1/3 with water
- Fill the rest with oil
- Add the food coloring
- Break the Alka Seltzer tablet into pieces and add to the mixture
- Watch the lava lamp come to life
- LED bulb
- 4 lemons
- Alligator clips
- Zinc nails
- Copper wire
1.Roll the lemons on the table to get them filled with juice
2.Place a zinc nail and piece of copper wire into all 4 lemons
3.Use the alligator clip to connect the lemons together
4.Use 2 more alligator clips to connect the first and last lemon to the LED bulb
5.Watch the light begin lighting up
Another fun science experiment that involves lemons is the one where you can show your students the power of the lemon. This experiment shows that lemons react with metal, which young students will find very interesting. For an up-close look at this, check out LAB 360’s YouTube video.
Now, we will create one of children’s favorite treats, ice cream.
- Materials needed:
- Large zip-lock freezer bag
- Small zip-lock freezer bag
- 4 oz of milk
- 4 oz of cream
- 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
- 4 teaspoon of sugar
- 1/2 cup of salt
- Pour milk, vanilla, sugar, and cream into a small zip-lock bag and zip it
- Pour a cup of ice into the large zip-lock bag
- Pour a handful of salt over the ice
- Put the small bag inside the large bag
- Add more ice and salt until the bag is full
- Zip the large bag and shake the bag for 5-8 minutes
- Open the large bag and pull out the small bag and enjoy your ice cream
- 1/4 cup of vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- A bowl that is not metal
- Paper towels
- Pour vinegar into a non-metal bowl and add salt
- Place a few pennies into the bowl
- Take the pennies out and rinse in water
- Explain that the vinegar is an acid that reacts with salt to remove the copper oxide from the pennies
- Small zip-lock bag
- Baking soda
- Warm water
- Measuring cup
- Pour ¼ cup of warm water into the bag
- Add ½ cup vinegar to the bag
- Pour 3 teaspoons of baking soda into the middle of the tissue
- Wrap the baking soda up in the tissue
- Zip the plastic bag partially
- Put the wrapped baking soda into the bag and quickly zip it completely shut
- Place the bag in a sink or outside on the ground and back away
- Watch the bag expand until it pops
- Packet of yeast
- Plastic bottle
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- Warm water
- Small balloon
- Pour 1 inch of warm water into the bottle
- Add the yeast and swirl the bottle a few times
- Pour the sugar inside and swirl a few more times
- Blow up the balloon a couple times to stretch it out
- Place the balloon over the top of the bottle
- Let the bottle sit somewhere warm for 20 minutes
- Check it out and see the balloon inflated
To see other cool balloon experiments to do with young students, take a look at LAB 360’s YouTube video. This video shows you 16 different experiments, which your students are sure to love.
Let’s move on to the next experiment, which is turning milk to plastic.
- 1 cup of milk
- 4 teaspoons of white vinegar
- The teacher should heat up the milk until it is hot (not boiling) and pour it into a bowl
- Add vinegar to the bowl and stir it
- Pour the milk through a strainer into a sink with the teacher’s help
- There will be solid lumpy globs of milk left in the strainer in which you will need to let cool
- Rinse these solid pieces of milk off with water
- Press the pieces together to form whatever shape you wish
- Go back to the plastic milk in a few days and it will be hardened
- Tissue paper
- Pencil with an eraser
- Bowl of water
- Fill your bowl with water
- Drop your paper clip inside and see it sink
- Take the paperclip out and tear a piece of tissue paper off
- Drop the tissue paper onto the surface of the water
- Place the paperclip on top of the tissue paper gently
- Use the eraser end of the pencil to gently poke the tissue until it sinks (do not poke the paper clip)
- The tissue will sink, and the paper clip will continue floating
For more science experiments that involve water, watch LAB 360’s YouTube video that shows you several neat experiments dealing with water. This video is perfect for students who are water lovers.
Have you ever flown paper airplanes? Most of us have at some point in our childhood. You should spread the knowledge of creating a paper airplane with your students.
- Tape Measure
- Show the students ways to make paper airplanes
- Practice throwing them to see which way will make the paper airplanes fly further
- Determine a starting place for each student to throw their paper airplane from
- Have them throw each plane
- Measure the distance of each to see which plane went the furthest
- Discuss that weight will pull the plane down, lift will pull the plane up, thrust propels the plane in a forward motion, and dragging holds the plane backwards
An easy science experiment to consider doing with your students is the bouncy egg experiment. I did not mention this experiment in my list, but it is worth taking the time to do. LAB 360 has a short YouTube video showing how to make bouncy eggs, which you should check out. Your students will get a kick out of this!
After you have completed a science experiment with your students, you should use an interactive whiteboard to go over everything that they learned. Some students may have had a different experience than others that they would like to share. To find a top interactive whiteboard for your classroom, check out my article on the 10 best interactive whiteboards by clicking here. I promise that you will find one that will be the most effective for your students’ needs.
You may think that elementary-aged children will make a mess, may not fully understand, or simply cannot handle a science experiment. However, this is not the case. Children at a young age comprehend a lot more than you think, and there are many positive benefits to doing science experiments starting in elementary school. I will tell you about a few of the benefits below.
1. Children tend to do best when they are actively involved in the learning
Children need to be able to ask questions, participate in interesting discussions, and tell you about their interests. When they are actively involved in learning, their brains are grasping so much more information than when not.
2. Children’s senses should be stimulated
The five senses are smell, hear, taste, feel, and see. Therefore, children need to stimulate these senses to learn. Science experiments are great ways to engage all five senses!
3. Hands-on activities are best for young children
Most children do not learn only by seeing; they learn by doing. By being able to actually do the activity, they are able to fully observe what is happening, ask you questions, and experiment to see what will occur.
4. Young students should be allowed to be curious and discover science themselves
It is important for young students to be allowed to let their curiosity soar and make discoveries themselves. If they discover something themselves, they are more likely to remember it.
5. Critical thinking skills are developed when students participate in science experiments
Critical thinking skills are important in everyone’s lives. That is why you should encourage young children to develop critical thinking skills. Science experiments are an excellent way to do this because the children are able to ask you questions as well as find the answer to the questions that they had for themselves.
To see an up-close look at 10 science projects for elementary school students, watch LAB 360’s YouTube video. The video shows how to carry out each science project which will benefit you in knowing exactly how to do them.
If you have heard the term Special Day School teacher or SDS teacher and would like to know more about what that is, I recommend checking out my other article on this subject by clicking here. A SDS teacher is very important in the classroom and one of the best parts about their job may be to bring fun-filled activities for the students to participate in such as science experiments and hands-on learning experiences.
It is crucial to have certain safety measures in place when doing science experiments with elementary school students. Everyone can experience an accident when doing an experiment, but young children are more prone to accidents than other groups. This does not mean that you should not do science experiments with this age group; it just means that you should take extra precautions. You can even make the safety measures a routine with your students, which will ensure that they always know what to do to prepare for their upcoming science experiment.
The following are safety measures for elementary school students participating in science experiments:
- Put on your goggles, coat, and gloves .Your students should have their own sets of goggles, coats, and gloves. These items should be put on before beginning the science experiment to ensure protection. Make sure that everything fits each child perfectly.
- As the teacher, be sure to check chemicals in the science experiment before allowing the children to participate A lot of experiments do call for household chemicals. Make sure that you read all labels to the products that you are planning to use beforehand. Ensure that there are no hazards and be sure to tell the students not to put any chemicals near their mouth or eyes. Properly dispose of all chemicals after you are done using.
- Be sure to keep sharp tools out of reach and help the children if they must use them Try your best not to use any glass. Cuts tend to be the most common injury when doing science experiments with elementary students. If a child must use scissors, make sure you help them or do the cutting yourself. Pre-cutting everything will eliminate the risks.
- Be careful when using plants in an experimentYou will need to watch children closely while they are handling seeds. The reason for this is to ensure that they do not put them in their mouths. You will also need to make sure that they wash their hands after dealing with plants or seeds. This is important because plants and seeds are sprayed with fertilizers and insecticides. Please do research on the type of plant that you are using because there are many different types of plants that can cause sicknesses.
- Be cautious when bringing animals into your classroom for an experimentA lot of young children do not know how to properly handle live animals, so you need to make sure to give a lesson on how to handle the animal or creature with care during the experiment. If a child does not want to touch the animal, that should be their choice. I do not recommend forcing a child to touch an animal. If they choose to participate, you should supervise closely. It is important to make sure animals are not mistreated or mishandled. In addition, do not bring wild animals into your classroom because they can have diseases that are dangerous to humans.
- Make sure that heating materials are not used by children to prevent burnsAnything that is hot should not be used by children. This includes hot water. If a cup is filled with hot water, do not let the student hold it. It can easily break or spill. It is best if only you handle the hot items.
- Anything that is broken or spilled should be cleaned up right awayIt is OK if something gets broken or spilled. Make sure that the students move away from the area and do not touch. Everything will need to be cleaned up before they can go back to doing their experiment.
- Create an emergency plan for when things go wrong and go over this with studentsYou never know how a science experiment is going to go. It is wise to create an emergency plan and go over it with your students beforehand. This will help them know what to do when you say it is time to do the emergency plan. You will need an emergency plan in case any of the following accidents occur: burning, poisoning, allergic reactions, first-aid accident, fire, spill, animal bite, etc.
Even if you are teaching remotely, there are science experiments that can be done in the comfort of your student’s home. Take a look at LAB 360’s other video showing you the experiments that little one’s will enjoy doing at home.
During a science experiment, children may get loud and rowdy because they are excited. Every student must be able to hear you to ensure that they are being safe while participating in the science experiment. Therefore, my advice is to purchase a voice amplifier for these specific activities. These devices will make your voice loud and clear, so that each student can hear you and comprehend everything you are saying at all times.
- Classroom Science Lab Equipment
- How to Teach with Classroom Experiments
- 12 Competitions To Get Your Students Fired Up About STEM
I hope this article helped you come up with several fun science experiments for elementary school. No matter the age of the child, there are always ways to get them involved with learning about science. All teachers should put away the books and worksheets from time to time and do some science experiments to get your students motivated, alert, and learning. I guarantee that they will also be smiling and laughing while doing these hands-on experiments, which is a win-win for you! Good luck and happy experimenting!
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