Science experiments are crucial for illustrating how the world works and they’re just plain fun. Here are six of the coolest ones. Be sure to practice proper lab safety, especially with chemicals, open flames, and sources of heat.
1. Watch Glass Disappear
This experiment demonstrates two aspects of physics. Fill a beaker halfway with water and halfway with oil. Since materials with lower density float above materials with higher density, the oil floats on the water. Next place a glass stirring rod in the liquids. The rod vanishes in the oil but it is visible in the water. This is because light interacts with oil and pyrex glass in a similar way, but bounces off of water at a different angle.
2. Grow Your Own Fire Snake
For this slithering demonstration, you’ll need sugar, baking soda, sand, and lighter fluid. Mix the sugar and baking soda in a mixing cup. Next, fill a bowl with sand and douse with lighter fluid. Put the sugar mixture on the sand and set it on fire. A charcoal grey substance will slowly emerge from the flames.
3. Barking Dog Experiment
Fill a glass tube with laughing gas, some liquid carbon disulfide, and a splash of water. Ignite the top of the tube and the gas will burn at an exponential rate. This reaction creates a loud bark and coats the tube with sulfur.
4. Foaming Elephant Toothpaste
Warning, this one gets messy! Add a few drops of dish soap and a splash of 20 to 35 percent hydrogen peroxide in a volumetric flask. Add potassium iodine and the liquid will violently spew as a hot, voluminous foam. Be careful with the hydrogen peroxide since higher concentrations can burn skin.
5. Rainbow Flames
Burning metal in a fire causes it to change color. For this experiment, use methanol as your fuel because it will give you brighter colors. Combine everyday items with methanol in a beaker and ignite for a beautiful display. Table salt burns yellow, roach killer burns green, pure methanol burns blue, and salt substitute burns violet. This is how fireworks get their color.
6. Turn a Penny Silver and Gold
You’ll need a copper penny, zinc sulfate, water, strips of solid zinc, a beaker, and a hot plate. Mix zinc sulfate and water in a beaker. Heat to a boil on the hot plate and add the zinc. Add a clean copper penny and make sure it’s touching the zinc pieces. After ten minutes, take your silver penny out of the solution. To turn it gold, wash it, place it directly on the hot plate at 300°C, and then cool it in water.
For more educational experiments, visit SciFun’s website.