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NEA Big Read: Family Science Experiments

March 26, 2021 at 9:21 AM by

March is almost over, but the Lab Girl inspired activities don't have to stop!

Science explains the world around us. What better way to learn than performing easy science experiments as a family? Check out these resources below!

Fun ways to experiment as a family:

  • Bake a yeast bread. Discuss how the yeast breaks down the sugars in the flour, releasing carbon dioxide. Once the bread is baked, cut a slice and examine the little holes left by the yeast. 


  • Want to make a mess? Make your own volcano out of clay. (You could also hollow out an apple or even a pumpkin for an even sillier reaction). Put baking soda in the top of the volcano. Pour over vinegar and watch the lava flow! Baking soda is a base and the vinegar is an acid. The reaction when the two meet release carbon dioxide and results in all the foaming bubbles! Follow up with a family read-aloud about volcanos or a Youtube clip of a real eruption. 


  • Make a raft out of craft sticks or straws. Put it in a bucket of water and see how many pennies you can add to the raft while it remains afloat!  Try a couple different styles of rafts and see which works the best!


  • Party like it’s the 1970s and make your own lava lamp! Pour oil and water into a glass. Add some food coloring. The water and food coloring sink to the bottom because they are more dense than the oil. When you drop in an alka-seltzer tablet, the tablet reacts with the water, releasing carbon dioxide, sending colored bubbles up to the top of the glass before dropping back down again. 


  • Write secret messages in invisible ink!  Add a few drops of water to some lemon juice and write your message with a toothpick or Q-Tip. Let it dry. Use a flashlight to see the message! The heat from the flashlight breaks down the acidic lemon juice, releasing carbon. This allows the message to be seen!


Check out these books for more experiments to try: 


This colorful, fact-packed book explains why popcorn pops, why bread slices have holes in them, and how ice cream is made!  This is also full of mini experiments that you can do as a family, including making your own ice cream and how to make an egg shell dissolve leaving the rest of the egg intact!

Can crafts be scientific? You bet!  This book collects several project ideas that let you explore your creative side while exploring science! Plant different seeds at the same time and observe which grows the fastest!  Create your own garden that explores the five senses! 

You don’t need a laboratory to conduct science experiments! Take it outside with fun, easy experiments in this book. Topics include the different textures of tree bark, how shadows are formed and how to measure the diameter of the sun using paper, foil and a little math! Explore nature--in nature!

Full of 100 different science experiments that cover physics, astronomy, chemistry, and biology, this resource is excellent for parents that may not remember everything from science class growing up. Each experiment comes with drawings and detailed, yet succinct explanations of how and why stuff works. No need to Google any science terms--a full glossary is also included for easy reference!

Silly Scientific Stories:


This funny picture book is a great way to introduce kids to the scientific method. A girl tries 11 very silly experiments that all have disastrous results. Each description of the experiment breaks down into question, hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion. Enjoy some giggles as you learn the scientific method!

Ada Twist is a budding scientist and she is on a quest to find the cause of the stink in her house! This fun book illustrates the scientific method and shows that sometimes experiments result in more questions than answers.

Non-Book Resources:


  • Remember watching Bill Nye the Science Guy in science class?  He’s still around and making shows!  Check out Bill Nye the Science Guy on DVD and introduce the whole family to one of the coolest guys around! Animals, the planets, geology and the ecosystem are just a few of the many topics he covers. 


  • You may know them best from the theme song to “The Big Bang Theory”, but did you know that They Might Be Giants has a whole album of science themed songs for children? Give it a listen on the way to a park or while you are working on an experiment at home!