Messy Science Experiments

MESSY SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS

My book, Chemical Reactions!: With 25 Science Projects for Kids, is out! To celebrate, I’m sharing two messy science experiments from the book. Okay, in the interest of not making too much of a mess, one chemistry science experiment is high on the messy scale, and one is more contained. Both are chemistry experiments using food coloring. I love color, as you can probably tell from my website design. 

You don't need a wig to do these chemistry science experiments
Contrary to popular opinion, I do not need a wig for these experiments.

Wig or not, these easy stem experiments are fun, colorful, and use materials you most likely have in your junk drawer or under the sink. 

We are Macgyver-ing it! (My spell check hated that not-a-word.) But you’ll like that you use materials from the supply closet! It makes the science more approachable. Plus, using everyday items puts the STEM concepts together for kids, as opposed to packets of powders in a kit.

Without further ado, let’s get messy! DIY chemistry science experiments with food coloring!

 

Easy stem experiments…

Friends in crowd
WE LOVE CHEMISTRY EXPERIMENTS!

CHEMISTRY SCIENCE EXPERIMENT # 1 : MAKE A RAINBOW

Maybe we can't create this one...
Let's scale it down!
I can't resist, so here are a few rainbow tips....
1. Look for one when the sun is behind you!
2. The sun must be low in the horizon
3. There is no end to a rainbow!
Click Here for more rainbow facts
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SUPPLIES FOR MESSY SCIENCE EXPERIMENT # 1

Easy STEM EXPERIMENTS Supplies_Polarity of Soap
Yes, says Louie. This is what we need.
  • MILK

    2% Milk, Whole Milk, Half & Half, or Cream will work, but fat content makes a difference, which I'll explain below.

  • BOWL
  • FOOD COLORING

    As promised, a science experiment with food coloring!

  • Q-TIPS
  • DISH SOAP

STEPS FOR MESSY SCIENCE EXPERIMENT AT HOME # 1 aka Make A Rainbow

1. POUR THE MILK INTO A BOWL
2.Carefully place a drop or two of red, blue, yellow, and green food coloring as close as you can to the middle of the milk in the bowl w/o the colors touching.
THESE DROPS ARE TOO FAR APART SAYS LOUIE
3. Dip a Q-tip into the dish soap.
4.Put the Q tip between the drops of food coloring.
Watch the colors swirl, mix, and skitter away!
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All right, you’re saying sure, we see milk and soap and food coloring.

This is an easy stem science experiment, but where’s the STEM? (science, technology, engineering, or math?) 

 

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THE SCIENCE BEHIND THIS LESS MESSY CHEMISTRY EXPERIMENT

FAT MOLECULES HATE WATER!
THE FAT MOLECULES BIND TO THE HYDROPHOBIC SIDE OF THE SOAP TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM THAT SCARY H2O!
SOAP MOLECULE THE HERO
When the fat moves toward the soap, it pushes everything else out of its way so it can bond to the soap ASAP!
FAT IS PROTECTED
We're seeing the reaction between the fat and soap molecules as they push the food coloring out of their way.
The food coloring allows you to see the MICROSCOPIC molecules bonding!
I should have used more colors!
Never mind that I'm color blind.
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WHY IS THIS A CHEMICAL REACTION, ANYWAY?

A Chemical Reaction is the process that takes place when a substance (or substances) are brought into contact with each other & produce a new substance(s)

BONDING BETWEEN TWO MOLECULES OCCURS & FORMS A NEW SUBSTANCE

HENCE, A CHEMICAL REACTION!
More details in my book!

A DASH OF SCIENTIFIC METHOD

Oh, oh! Now we’re using scientific method because we’re asking a question and forming a hypothesis w/ our why.

What do you think would happen if you used cream instead of 2% milk? And WHY?

I used 2% milk because that's what we had.

A higher fat content means more fat molecules available for the soap.

This will speed up the reaction so the food coloring will move faster! Try it!

Time for messy science experiment # 2. This one is rather messy …and fun!

Sue Berk Koch I do the research so you don't have to_Science Blog _
I love messy science experiments!

CHEMISTRY SCIENCE EXPERIMENT # 2 : MEGA FOAM

chemistry science experiments
DO NOT EAT SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS...CLICK ON LOUIE IF YOU WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT WHY NOT!

SUPPLIES FOR MESSY SCIENCE EXPERIMENT #2

Messy Science Experiments at home Mega Foam
Louie wants to pour the yeast in w/o the funnel
  • 2 LITER CLEAN PLASTIC BOTTLE

    16 ounce works too, but it's messier...uh, more fun with a bigger bottle

  • HYDROGEN PEROXIDE (3% is fine)

    1 cup for the 2 liter bottle / 1/2 cup for the 16 ounce bottle

  • FOOD COLORING

    As promised!

  • LIQUID DISH SOAP

    A tablespoon or so.

  • 4 PACKETS OF DRY YEAST

    Or 2 packets for a 16 ounce bottle

  • ~3-5 TABLESPOONS WARM WATER
  • SMALL BOWL OR CUP

    To mix the yeast & warm water

  • FUNNEL

    Optional

STEPS FOR MESSY SCIENCE EXPERIMENT AT HOME # 2 :aka MEGA FOAM

1. Pour the hydrogen peroxide into the bottle.
1 cup for the 2 liter bottle, 1/2 cup for the 16 ounce bottle.
2. Add ~ 1 T of liquid dish soap into the bottle & swish the bottle around a bit to mix it.
3. Add 12 drops of your favorite food coloring into the bottle.
Dripping it along the sides makes interesting patterns.
In a separate small cup, combine the warm water and the yeast together
Mix for about 30 seconds..
Pour the yeast water mixture into the bottle.
Funnel optional again.
WATCH THE MEGA FOAM BEGIN!
Be sure to touch the bottle! Does it feel warm? (more on that below...)
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VIDEO OF MESSY SCIENCE EXPERIMENT # 2

Below is my first –and quite possibly last– attempt w/ TikTok to create a compilation of a chemistry science experiment. I started w/ a 45 second video and a few stills. Four hours later, here’s the result! HA!

Annoyed with cytokines Ian
Hyperbole. It didn't take you 4 hours.

It felt like four hours.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE MESSY SCIENCE EXPERIMENT

Many living materials contain an enzyme called catalase
Enzymes speed up chemical reactions.
More on catalysts here
Blood, saliva, and yeast all contain catalase.
For obvious reasons, I chose yeast.
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is not a strong molecule.
UV rays from the sun can break the extra oxygen bond, turning it into water.
Now you know why hydrogen peroxide is stored in dark containers!
To protect it from UV light
So yeast is not part of the chemical reaction.
It has the catalyst. Yeast quickly breaks a bond in the hydrogen peroxide.
You see at the right that one of the products is oxygen!
The foam you made is full of tiny bubbles. The bubbles are oxygen!
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ANOTHER DASH OF SCIENTIFIC METHOD

Did you notice that during the reaction, the bottle got warm?

Why?

This reaction releases energy. In this case,with an increase in temperature.

The term for a reaction that releases energy is EXOTHERMIC.
More here.

What do you think would happen if we used a stronger concentration of H2O2?

3% is readily available everywhere, but you could buy 6% on Amazon...

With more molecules of hydrogen peroxide, the reaction would proceed more quickly!

More boom!

I admit that I was tempted to order 6% H2O2 for a more showy video, but that seemed counter to the theme of this post. 

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WE AGREE!

EASY STEM EXPERIMENTS : YEAST!

Because I can’t resist, I have to chat a little bit about amazing yeast!

Yeast is alive. It is a single-celled microorganism and technically a fungus.

science experiments with food coloring_Yeast structure
YEAST STRUCTURE
Easy STEM experiments Fungus__ Make Sense of Science Mushrooms
Who knew mushrooms and yeast had so much in common?

LOUIE LOVES MUSHROOMS

Some can be poisonous so don’t go plucking & eating them in the woods

For more about poisons, click here
BACK TO YEAST!
Humans use yeast to make culinary masterpieces such as beer, bread, and wine.
For a great gluten-free breakfast bread recipe, click here!
In the bread-making process, yeast is not acting as a catalyst. Yeast is eating the sugar in the mixture & breathing, so the gases exhaled by yeast cause the dough to rise.
I explain this more in my book w/ another experiment!
Research on yeast has yielded vast knowledge about basic cellular & molecular biology as well as about a myriad human diseases, including colon cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, & various metabolic disorders.
Click Here
YEAST under a microscope
courtesy NIH
More yeast research here
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Yeast is a beast!

Science experiments with food coloring Wine Make Sense of Science
Toasting yeast, wine made possible by yeast!

MESSY SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS

Safe chemistry science experiments such as these illustrate how chemical reactions occur. By using household items, these messy science experiments at home will enhance kids’ understanding of the chemistry they encounter every day. And they’re pretty because they’re science experiments with food coloring!

Science Experiments with food coloring _two screens
Now that you've read this amazing, informative post, get to the chemistry experiments!

Which experiment will you try first?

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I DO THE RESEARCH SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO. THEN YOU’LL LOOK LIKE A BRAINIAC TO YOUR KIDS, GRANDKIDS, NIECES, NEPHEWS, NEIGHBORS &/OR STUDENTS!

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68 thoughts on “Messy Science Experiments”

  1. Fantastic!! I’d do this myself just to watch the chaos happen. I miss doing these kinds of things just for fun. I’m such a science nerd!

    Reply
    • How fun that your mum didn’t mind messes. Our mom was great but messes weren’t in her wheelhouse! I’m excited that you’re going to do the milk experiment w/ your niece. She’ll love it! Thanks.

      Reply
    • You definitely need messy science in your life! 😜 The mega foam experiment is a lot of fun. In fact, I’ve got hydrogen peroxide on my grocery list so I can do this one again. Thanks so much.

      Reply
  2. Wow who knew you could so much messy fun, I wish my boy was younger to practice these experiments. Congratulations on the book and I hope it sells well; thanks for sharing a part of your hard work 🙂

    Reply
  3. Great to see you back online. Haven’t received the book yet but will certainly try to do some of these with my grandchildren. Look easy enough even for an old grandpa. Keep up the good work. Mike

    Reply
  4. Love these experiments! I just ordered a copy of your book for my niece! Thanks so much for sharing a few experiments from your book. And congrats on your release!

    Reply
  5. The rainbow is definitely the definition of contained, but I still think it will make for a fun and colorful experiment, especially since one could compare a milk rainbow to a cream rainbow.

    The foam volcano is my kind of exciting mess! Love the frothy stream it makes and how simple it is to cook up.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • I love the foam mess, too. It keeps flowing out, steady and powerful! Comparing milk and cream is the essence of scientific method in disguise. I hope to coax along the next generation of curious scientists! Thanks so much.

      Reply
  6. Huge congratulations on your book being published, that’s amazing! I absolutely love science and when I have kids one day, it’s something I defiantly want to pass onto them. This book sounds really interesting. Thank you so much for sharing Xo

    Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

    Reply
  7. Hooray! Congrats on your book!! 🥂 My little sister and I always love to try some science experiments. I think we’ll try the rainbow experiment this time. That looks so fun! Thanks for sharing this xxx

    Reply
  8. Wow, congratulations on your book baby, Susan! That is very exciting! When will the hardcover or softcover books be available? It seems that it is only selling as a pre-order right now.

    These experiments look like a lot of fun. The mega foam experiment reminds me of when we used to make overflowing volcano experiments with baking soda and vinegar. Messy art and messy science are the best!

    I’m not sure many kids will know who MacGyver was, though.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Kathy! The books are printed on both hardcover and paperback, all sitting in the warehouse. Supply chain woes have slowed delivery to a standstill, unfortunately. Two weeks late and counting. I agree, messy science is the best! There was a remake of macgyver but it didn’t last long so that reference does seem outdated!

      Reply
  9. These are some great experiments!! I’ll have to try them out with my Girl Guide unit, they would love trying them out. Also, congratulations on your new book!! So exciting!!

    Reply

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Susan Berk Koch author

My New Book!

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