My friend Liz runs the coolest website called The Kitchen Pantry Scientist. Her background is in science, clearly, and she LOVES getting kids in the kitchen to play with food and, in process, learn a little bit more about science. She graciously agreed to share some of her favorite easy kitchen science experiments for kids. Note, these should all be done with adult supervision. Next time you go into the kitchen take a break from cooking and learn with them. Here are nine simple DIY kitchen experiments to get you started!
If you can cook or bake, you can do science. And your kitchen pantry is brimming with easy food science experiments that your kids will love.
Sugar, salt, food coloring, yeast, baking soda, vinegar, flour and cornstarch are a few of the ingredients that will magically transform your kitchen table into a science lab.
Take yeast for example. With plastic baggies, some sugar, salt and water, you can learn what makes yeast grow and see for yourself the gas bubbles that make bread rise. It’s kitchen microbiology!
Cornstarch and water can be mixed together to make a non-Newtonian liquid, which is fun to play with and illustrates how starches help thicken food.
Some foods contain healthy pigments called anthocyanins (an-tho-SY-a-nins), which give them their bright color and can change color when you expose them to acids or bases. By boiling cranberries in water, you can make “spy juice” that will reveal hidden messages written with baking soda.
You may have heard that adding a little acid can make sauces and salad dressings taste better. It’s fun to test different liquids in the kitchen, like vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda/water solution and even pickle juice, to see whether they’re acids or bases using easy-to-make red cabbage litmus paper.
Sugar density gradient columns are a neat way to teach kids about liquid density, and the results are beautiful. All you need is sugar, water and food coloring to make these syrupy rainbows.
Using iodine from your medicine cabinet, you can do a starch test on different foods to see whether they contain the carbohydrate starch. (Adult supervision is required for young children with this experiment since iodine shouldn’t be ingested.)
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley and it gives bread its chewy texture. You can mix flour and water together, knead it and rinse out the carbs to make a “gluten ball.”
Crafty? Using milk and vinegar, you can make your own glue. Milk contains a protein called casein, which is a polymer, or a chain, or long molecules which can bend and move. Glue is often made from the casein of milk curds!
Finally, kitchen science wouldn’t be complete without mixing together acetic acid (vinegar) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to create a chemical reaction that produces enough carbon dioxide gas to inflate a balloon. These are the same type of bubbles that make baked goods rise when you add baking soda!
What are you waiting for? Let the fun begin!