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Discover the Wonders of Science: 15 Simple yet Engaging Experiments for Primary Classrooms

Primary school pupils carrying out a science experiment
Exploring the world of science has never been so much fun with these 15 easy-to-do experiments, perfect for primary classrooms! Each experiment offers a unique learning opportunity to spark curiosity and engage young learners.

Science is a fascinating subject that has the potential to spark a sense of wonder and curiosity in children of all ages. However, for many primary school pupils, science can also be intimidating, complex and abstract, making it challenging to engage with the subject. That’s where hands-on experiments come in – by allowing young learners to explore scientific concepts through practical, interactive activities, teachers and parents can help to demystify science and make it more accessible and enjoyable.

In the primary classroom, science experiments are a fantastic way to excite children about science, help them develop a love for scientific learning, and help them achieve their objectives and goals in the primary national curriculum. Not only do science experiments provide a compelling and interactive approach to exploring scientific concepts, but they also help to strengthen essential skills such as observation, prediction and critical thinking.

This blog post has compiled a list of 15 quick and easy science experiments perfect for primary classrooms in EYFS, KS1 and KS2. Each experiment is designed to be straightforward, accessible and enjoyable, allowing pupils to explore various scientific concepts in an interactive way. They are also simple to set up, require minimal materials and can be carried out quickly, making them ideal for busy educators with limited time. So, whether you’re a teacher looking for new ways to teach science or a parent hoping to inspire your child’s curiosity, these experiments will provide hours of scientific exploration and discovery.

Making a Volcano
One of the most popular science experiments in primary schools is making a volcano. This experiment is not only fun and engaging, but it also teaches children about chemical reactions and the properties of different materials.

You will need: a small bowl, cup, plastic bottle, 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), 1 tbsp washing-up liquid, 2 tbsp water, 125ml vinegar and 1 tbsp red food colouring.

In a bowl, combine the bicarbonate of soda and the washing-up liquid. Add the water and mix thoroughly. Pour this mixture into your bottle. In a cup, mix together the vinegar and the red food colouring. When you’re ready, pour the vinegar into the bottle with the bicarbonate. Watch as the mixture fizzes and bubbles, creating a volcanic eruption and see how the lava flows. Experiment with different amounts of bicarbonate and vinegar and see how the volcano’s eruption changes.

Floating and Sinking
Another excellent science experiment for primary classrooms is the floating and sinking experiment. This experiment teaches primary-aged pupils about the properties of different materials and how they interact with water.

You will need a bowl of water and a variety of objects such as coins, pencils, paper clips and plastic toys. Children can predict which objects will float and which will sink and then test their predictions by placing the objects in the water. They can record their observations and draw conclusions about the properties of the objects.

Balloon Rocket
The balloon rocket experiment provides an opportunity to teach young learners about Newton’s Third Law of Motion and the principles of aerodynamics. Furthermore, this experiment encourages pupils’ critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

You will need: a long piece of string, a drinking straw, some tape, a balloon, 2 objects of the same height you can tie a string to, such as chairs or tables.

Position the two objects about 4 metres apart. Securely tie one end of the string to one of the objects. Thread the loose end of the string through the straw and then tie the loose end of the string to your second object, ensuring the string is tight. Stick a piece of tape in the middle of the straw; if you stick the tape near the ends of the straw, the straw will bend when the balloon deflates, and the rocket won’t move as quickly. Move the straw to one end of the string. Blow up the balloon and hold the balloon’s lip so the air can’t escape. Use the piece of tape to secure the balloon to the straw, making sure the lip of the balloon is facing the knot at the start of the string. Once you are ready, let go of the balloon and watch what happens!

Magnetic Attraction
The magnetic attraction experiment effectively educates children about the properties of magnets and how they interact with various materials.

You will need a variety of objects, such as paper clips, nails, coins and other small metal objects. You will also need a magnet. Children can predict which objects will be attracted to the magnet and test their predictions by placing the objects near the magnet. They can record their observations and draw conclusions about the properties of the objects and the magnet.

Lemon Battery
By performing the lemon battery experiment, pupils can better understand the fundamental concepts of electricity and the chemical reactions involved in producing it.

You will need a lemon, a copper penny, a zinc-coated nail and some wire. Cut a small slit in the lemon and insert the penny and the nail, ensuring they do not touch. Use the wire to connect the penny to the nail, creating a circuit. Watch as the lemon produces a small electric current.

Rainbow Milk
The rainbow milk experiment is a practical way to illustrate the properties of various materials and the chemical reactions that occur between them. It is an exciting and uncomplicated experiment that you can conduct in your classroom using just a handful of ingredients. Observe as your milk becomes animated through this activity that your pupils can enjoy over and over again!

You will need: a shallow dish, whole milk, various food colourings, washing-up liquid and a cotton bud.

Pour the milk into the dish, enough to cover the bottom part. Then add a few drops of various food colourings to the milk. Next, dip a cotton bud in the washing-up liquid and then in the milk, preferably in the centre of a spot of food colouring. Watch the colours explode, swirl and mix together as the washing-up liquid interacts with the fat molecules in the whole milk, creating a rainbow effect.

Invisible Ink
The experiment with invisible ink provides a fun and thrilling opportunity for pupils to explore the properties of different materials and the chemical reactions that take place between them.

You will need some lemon juice, paper and a paintbrush or cotton swab. Have the learners use the paintbrush or cotton swab to write a message on the paper using the lemon juice. Let the paper dry, then hold it to a light bulb or heat source to reveal the invisible message.

Oobleck
Is it a solid? Is it a liquid? It’s both! Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid that behaves like both a liquid and a solid. It is a great way to learn about the properties of materials and the science behind the unusual substance. Making your own oobleck is an easy science activity that only requires two everyday kitchen ingredients.

You will need 75g of cornflour, 50-60ml of cold water, and food colouring (optional).

Tip the cornflour into a bowl and slowly stir in the water. If the mixture seems too dry, add a few drops more water. If it’s too liquid, add some more cornflour. The oobleck is ready when the mixture is thick and fluid but starts to tear if stirred fast. The oobleck can dry out as you play with it. If this happens, simply add a few drops of water to loosen it. Children can experiment with the oobleck by squeezing it, stirring it and letting it ooze through their fingers.

Egg Drop Challenge
The egg drop challenge is a practical approach to teaching engineering and problem-solving. The challenge is to build a contraption that will protect an egg from breaking when dropped from a certain height.

You will need some materials such as straws, paper, tape and plastic cups. Have the pupils work in teams to design and build a contraption to protect the egg. Once the contraptions are made, have the pupils place an egg inside them, and then drop the contraption from ascending heights to see which ones successfully protect the egg.

Solar Oven
The experiment involving a solar oven provides an excellent and interactive means of educating pupils about energy and its potential to be harnessed from the sun, a bountiful and sustainable energy source.

You will need a cardboard box, aluminium foil, plastic wrap and a thermometer. Cut a flap in the lid of the cardboard box and cover it with aluminium foil. Line the inside of the box with foil as well. Then, cover the opening with plastic wrap. Have the children place food inside the box and use the thermometer to monitor the temperature as it cooks in the sun.

Chromatography
Chromatography is an easy experiment using materials readily available in the classroom. This experiment separates colours in ink or dye, making it a great way to teach young learners about solubility, capillary action and pigments.

You will need filter paper, water-soluble markers or food colouring, and a container with water. Begin by drawing a small dot of ink or dye onto the filter paper, making sure not to saturate the paper. Next, place the filter paper into the container with water, ensuring that the dot of ink or dye is above the water level. As the water moves up the paper due to capillary action, the ink or dye will separate into its individual colours.

Homemade Lava Lamp
The homemade lava lamp experiment provides an enjoyable and hands-on approach to teaching young children about density and solubility.

You will need a clear plastic bottle, water, vegetable oil, food colouring and an Alka-Seltzer tablet. Fill the bottle about one-third of the way with water, then add vegetable oil until the bottle is nearly full. Add a few drops of food colouring, then drop an Alka-Seltzer tablet in half. Watch as the coloured bubbles rise and fall in the bottle, resembling a lava lamp.

Rock Candy
Rock candy is a simple yet exciting experiment that teaches young learners about the process of crystallisation. Growing sugar crystals on a stick creates a visually appealing and tasty treat.

You will need sugar, water, a glass jar and a wooden skewer. Mix equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Pour the solution into the glass jar, then suspend the wooden skewer in the jar with a clothespin. Let it sit for several days, and watch as the sugar crystallises on the skewer, forming rock candy.

Homemade Slime
The homemade slime experiment is a well-known method to teach kids about non-Newtonian fluids and polymers. These substances have distinct properties that don’t comply with the laws of traditional Newtonian physics and can act like solids or liquids depending on the amount of force applied.

You will need white school glue, liquid starch and food colouring (optional). Mix the glue and starch together, then add a few drops of food colouring if desired. Knead the mixture until it becomes slimy and stretchy. Encourage pupils to experiment with different amounts of glue and starch to see how it affects the consistency of the slime.

Bouncy Egg
The bouncing egg experiment is a unique approach to teaching learners about chemical reactions and the basics of osmosis, which is water movement across a membrane.

You will need: a raw egg, white vinegar, food colouring (if desired) and a clear container, such as a glass or jar.

Place the egg in a tall clear container with a wide mouth. The egg will expand with time so a wide-mouth container is necessary. Cover the egg with vinegar and then add about 10 drops of food colouring of your choice. Let the egg sit for at least 24 hours. When the surface of the water has a weird scummy film, the egg is ready to take out. Carefully remove the egg from the container and rinse it with water. The eggshell should have dissolved, resulting in a bouncy, rubbery egg that children can gently roll and bounce.

In conclusion, quick and easy science experiments are a great way to engage primary school pupils in science. These experiments provide a hands-on learning experience that helps children understand key scientific concepts and encourages them to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

The experiments listed are just a few examples of the many enjoyable and appealing science experiments that can be carried out in primary school lessons. Whether creating a lava lamp, building a rocket or experimenting with an oobleck, these primary school experiments will capture young learners’ imaginations and inspire them to explore the world of science further.

Moreover, these experiments can be tailored to suit different age groups and abilities in EYFS, KS1 and KS2, making them accessible to all primary-aged learners. They can also be adapted to various topics and subjects, making them versatile teaching tools.

By incorporating these simple science experiments into the primary classroom, teachers can help promote a love of science in their pupils and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators. With a bit of creativity and imagination, there’s no limit to the exciting and educational experiments that can be applied.

If you liked this article, you may like to read Ten Simple Christmas Activities to Do with Primary School Children Using Just a Few Resources.

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