Science experiments at your doorstep – 4th edition

Taking our ‘Fun with Science’ series ahead, we bring to you two hands-on activities that help bring the exciting world of science to life – experiments that kids can easily do at home. Under adult supervision of course.

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Try these at home and get set to build your own repository of scientific wonders.

Soap(y) model boat

You Need –

  • A foam tray (like the kind meat comes in) or a piece of non-corrugated cardboard
  • A tray, bowl, or cookie sheet full of water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • A toothpick

The experiment –

  • Cut the foam tray or cardboard into a boat shape. A good size seems to be about 2 inches long.
  • Dip the toothpick into the liquid soap and use the toothpick to put soap onto the sides of the notch at the back of the boat.
  • That’s it! Now carefully place the boat onto the surface of the water and watch it scoot across the water for several seconds – you’ve made a soap-powered boat! To demonstrate the boat again, you will need to rinse out the tray to remove any soap from the previous demonstration.

How does it work –

  • Soap is a surfactant – that means that it breaks down the surface tension of water.  As the surface tension is broken up, it creates enough of a force to push the lightweight boat across the surface.

Bend Water electrically

You need –

  • A dry plastic comb
  • An indoor faucet
  • A head full of clean dry hair.

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The experiment –

  • Turn on the faucet and slowly turn down the water until you have a VERY thin stream of water flowing.
  • Take the plastic comb and brush it through your hair ten times.
  • Now slowly bring the comb close to the flowing water (without actually touching the water). If all goes well, the stream of water should bend towards the comb!

How does it work –

When you brushed that comb through your hair, tiny parts of atoms in your hair, called electrons, collect on the comb. These electrons have a negative charge. Now that the comb has a negative charge, it is attracted to things that have a positive charge. It is similar to the way some magnets are attracted to certain metals.

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When you bring the negatively charged comb near the faucet it is attracted to the positive force of the water. The attraction is strong enough to actually pull the water towards the comb as it is flowing! If you want to try another experiment with your comb, tear up pieces of tissue until they are as a small as you can get them. Then charge your comb again by brushing it through your hair, and bring it close to the tiny pieces of tissue. If the pieces are small enough they will jump off the table to the comb, the same way that the water was pulled to the comb. The power of static electricity after all!

 

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