Most of us have kitchens, don’t we? Well, you can use your kitchen to teach your kids science every day. I don’t mean to teach them, take notes, and do experiments that need to be written. Just keep talking to them about what’s going on right in front of them all the time. Sometimes they may buy some props and science kits, you can find some great ones Home science resources in this post, but a lot of learning comes from everyday chatter. I have found that this is the quickest and best way to anchor all sorts of useful knowledge in these little minds. In this post, you’ll find some of our favorite ideas, demonstrations, and experiments for kitchen science, as well as some simple, affordable science kits and devices for home use.
Homeschooling Science Ideas
So arm yourself with a little background knowledge and a few cool tricks and let the science begin. Here are a few simple ideas for kitchen science:
Physical and chemical change
A physical change affects energy and matter states, no new substance is produced. Physical changes can be caused by forces, movement, temperature or pressure.
Water can turn to ice, but it is still H2O, although it looks different, it just changed its state. Physical changes can (theoretically) be undone.
Chemical changes take place at the molecular level. A chemical change creates a new substance that was not there before. Examples of chemical changes include burning (burning toast), boiling an egg, rusting an iron pan, and decalcifying a bone (see below). A chemical change can produce light, heat, color change, gas, smell or sound. Chemical changes cannot be undone.
Let’s give some kitchen science examples of these changes and make a game of them. “What kind of change is happening here, children? can it be reversed? “Keep it light and funny and the kids will love it and think they are really smart, that’s what we want.
Put some water in a plastic cup in the freezer, it will turn to ice, the state has changed from liquid to solid. This is a physical change. It can be reversed by giving these water molecules some of the energy that you have extracted by cooling them down. ie. Warm the ice, increase the energy, you are back in the water. This is a completely reversible physical change.
Chop some vegetables, they are certainly changed, but it is physical, the carrot is still a carrot, it has not become a cucumber.
Dissolve salt in water. It may appear that the salt has disappeared and a new substance has formed, but it is not. Place your salt solution in the sun so that part of the water evaporates (the heat of the sun gives the water molecules additional energy to change the state from liquid to gaseous) and the salt crystals are pressed out of the solution and reappear. They were there all the time. It is a physical change.
Now boil an egg. What happened? Could you reverse the process? No, the protein molecules have changed their structure and are being denatured. It is a chemical change.
The science of frying an egg
An egg consists of the yolk and the white, the egg white. The protein is a solution of proteins in water, proteins consist of long chains of amino acids. When heated, the protein chains break and recombine in a different form. This stiffens and knows the protein, the process is called denaturation. If you cook a protein to stiffen any protein, denature it and change its structure. Different cooking methods: cooking, poaching, roasting, basically give the same result, the proteins are denatured by thermal energy. But why does a fried egg taste different from a boiled egg?
When roasting is done at a very high temperature above the boiling point without water. The water in the food quickly gains enough energy to evaporate and make the food drier and crispier. At the same time, a tasty crust is formed by heating proteins (Maillard reactions) and sugar (caremelization) to high temperatures. That’s why fried food is crispy and brown. The inside of the food can remain moist, since water is trapped and the food cooks faster at the high temperatures that arise when roasting.
Descale an egg. The rubber egg trick
Take a raw egg in the bowl and place it in a glass filled with white vinegar. Watch and wait!
Bubbles form almost immediately on the outside of the egg shell. When more gas bubbles appear, the egg’s buoyancy increases and it floats. Within 24 hours, the egg shell has completely dissolved and shows the pale, translucent membranes, which are now the only thing that protects the egg. The egg feels soft and squidgy. If you do this very gently, you may even be able to bounce it off. The egg grows slightly as part of the liquid flows through the membrane, causing it to grow in size.
You don’t have to worry about the difficult scientific equations for young children. Children simply enjoy seeing the change in the egg, the released gas bubbles (carbon dioxide, CO2) and understanding that a chemical reaction with an acid takes place.
The science trick for soft egg cooking is a demonstration, but you could easily turn it into an experiment. We just have to introduce one test parameter and keep all other parameters constant.
For example, you could use 2 eggs that are almost identical, identical glasses and identical quantities of vinegar. You can introduce the variable temperature factor, put a glass in the fridge, one in a warm place. I would predict that an elevated temperature would accelerate the progress of the reaction. We can test this prediction using an experiment.
Write down the temperatures and make sure that they are constant.
For the test to be valid, all external factors should be the same, no glass should be covered or stirred, and both must be in the dark when the refrigerator is dark.
Use your observations to show whether this chemical reaction with heat is faster. Makes it?
This is the scientific method, the foundation of all good science.
Or how about a rubber bone?
This is basically the same demonstration, but a bone is used instead. A raw chicken thigh bone is ideal.
I worked in a pathology laboratory. That’s what real scientists do to soften bones enough to cut thin sections out of them so we can make slides.
The bone is decalcified by acetic acid, ie the calcium is removed. The bone becomes increasingly soft and rubbery.
Now is a good time to explain to the kids that they need to eat foods rich in calcium or that their bones are not getting strong and hard. Who needs flexible legs!
Acids and bases in the kitchen
You don’t have to buy chemicals, you already have a lot of acids and bases on your shelves. If you can’t get your hands on Ph (litmus) paper or indicator solution, there are natural kitchen indicators for pH.
Turmeric changes from yellow to red at pH 8.6. If you don’t have turmeric on hand, your curry powder should be sufficient. Beetroot changes from red to purple and Red cabbage from blue to red.
You have strong bases in soaps and bleaches, strong acids in vinegar and citrus.
Fun with yeast
With this experiment, you can show that ordinary baker’s yeast is a living thing.
Half fill a plastic bottle with warm water and add your yeast, bag or heaped teaspoon. Now add a few teaspoons of sugar. Sugar is food for yeast, all living things need some kind of food. The dry yeast starts to become active when it comes into contact with water and a food source.
Stretch the balloon slightly to soften it and slide it over the bottle.
Watch and you will see the balloon start to inflate.
Yeast, a tiny microorganism, a member of the fungal kingdom, produces a gas, carbon dioxide (CO2). Each carbon dioxide molecule consists of one carbon atom (C) and two oxygen atoms (O).
It is this process that gives us light, bubbly bread, the yeast mixed into the flour creates small gas bubbles, the heat from the oven kills the tiny organisms, but the gas bubbles remain trapped in the hardened, cooked bread dough
If you can keep up this kind of chatter every day, your kids will quickly become seasoned kitchen scientists, and the knowledge will benefit them in all their future scientific endeavors. I’m sure you can come up with more ideas. These are just a few of my favorites.
Articles you need for kitchen science
I am sure we have all the basucs, vinegar, bleach, baking soda and glasses (hopefully recycled!). The other things that are very helpful in demonstrating scientific ideas in your kitchen are these. Just click through to buy and deliver. Most of them are very cheap
Home science kits
It can sometimes be tiring to focus on explaining all day every day, but children are naturally curious, that’s how they learn. Perhaps you equip yourself with great science books. You can watch them together if you don’t know the answers to any of their questions. Or invest in some scientific toys, kits and games if you are interested and want to develop your science further. You don’t have to do any formal experiments, just let the kids play with everything they have, nothing will explode, much. With very young children, you can also introduce some messy play and sensory activities in your kitchen homemade snow made here from normal household items.
Good luck making scientists in your kitchen! This post “Homeschooling Science” originally appeared as ” Kitchen science”On the Homeschool Group Hug website. Reproduced with permission.
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