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Fun Science Activities to Do with Kids in the Summer (Part 1)

It’s hot outside, again. You’ve been to the pool, and the beach, and the splash pad, and you’ve turned on your sprinklers more days that you can count. It’s still hot and the kids are still home from school and they still need things to do. How about trying some science projects? These fun science activities can be done using supplies that you most likely have at home or can get from the supermarket on your next grocery run:

1. Make your own slime or floam. Slime is great. It’s great for kids of all ages, and can be surprisingly fun for adults to play with too! Many slime recipes that you can find online use borax (see HERE, HERE, or HERE), which is easy to find in stores but has some safety concerns associated with its use, especially in young children. If you are going to use the borax recipes, be careful and be sure to wash yours and your kids hands thoroughly after mixing.

An alternate option is to make floam, which can have a similar consistency to slime but is actually based on shaving cream. Here the binding chemical is actually liquid starch instead of borax. Some great recipes for floam:

2. Make a pH indicator with red cabbage juice. Some readers here are going to remember the cabbage soup diet fad of the 1990s (see HERE), but all I remember from that time is the awful smell of the cooking cabbage, and how that smell itself was enough to make me lose my appetite. Did you know that red cabbage juice (formed from boiling red cabbage in water) is actually a pH indicator that can change color in the presence of an acid or base? It’s true! To do this experiment, you will need to boil red cabbage in water, let the water cool, and use the colored cabbage solution to test the pH of different household objects.

A basic primer on pH can be found HERE or HERE, but in one definition of pH, chemicals can be classified as acids (donate a positively charge hydrogen atom, or proton) or bases (donate a negatively charged hydroxide ion). Acids have low pH’s (less than 7), and bases have high pH’s (above 7).

Red cabbage contains a chemical called anthocyanin, which turns one color in the presence of an acid and a different color in the presence of a base. Once you boil the red cabbage and have the juice, you can use that juice to test the pH of many chemicals in your house that are acids or bases.

Examples of common household acids: vinegar, lemon juice, and seltzer

Examples of common household bases: baking soda, alka seltzer, cleaning supplies, bleach.

Detailed directions for how to test the pH of all these objects using red cabbage juice can be found HERE!

More coming tomorrow in Part 2 of this installment! Stay tuned!

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