Favorite achievable experiment videos (YouTube, etc)?
October 8, 2019 9:57 AM   Subscribe

My son's current favorite thing to do is to watch "experiments" on Youtube, e.g., attempting to blow up a watermelon, make a lantern, etc. He wants to try experiments but most of these videos are "do not try this at home". I am aware of the classic baking soda/vinegar volcano. Are there any experiments, preferably video series (books acceptable), that would be achievable for young kids (7-8)? Non-Youtube video sources welcome!
posted by typecloud to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Mentos/Diet Coke. Just go type "mentos diet coke" into Youtube and you will find scores of variants.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:03 AM on October 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My brother and I had the original version of this book, Dr. Zed’s Dazzling Book of Sciemce Activities, and it provided hours of entertainment. Very safe, interesting, fun experiments. Looks like there are quite a few used copies available.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:11 AM on October 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Steve Spangler normally has some good try at home ones
posted by atlantica at 10:28 AM on October 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

This is the sort of thing your library is likely to have a good selection of, both dvds and books.
posted by theora55 at 11:00 AM on October 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don't know if I've documented the build plans anywhere, and I think the neighbor in this video was 3rd grade at this point, but if you know anyone who's got basic woodworking tools then a baking soda and vinegar rocket is fairly easy to build. With supervision an 8 year old could use a bandsaw to make the cuts, or, with less supervision, a scroll saw.

And once you get there, using a valve from a bike inner tube to make it a pump-up rocket isn't a leap.

A little muriatic acid (borrowed from your local pool owner) and aluminum foil generates hydrogen, which you can capture if you tie a balloon around a beaker, which leads to things like this (I think my nephew had just turned 8, and we'd finished cutting up a power wheelchair chassis we found at the dump, and some batteries we borrowed from neighborhood cars, into a go kart of sorts).

Sorry that neither of these are super produced "here's how" videos, they're just things I happened to have done with kids in that age range. If you're in the north SF Bay Area, hit me up and come by and we'll make some sawdust in the shop.
posted by straw at 11:32 AM on October 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't know if they do repeatable-by-you experiments, but he may enjoy Mythbusters Jr. some of which is available on YouTube, and run by Adam Savage. There are some full episodes, and lots of clips of various experiments.
posted by Enid Lareg at 12:27 PM on October 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Rob Cockerham's How Much Is Inside tests are extremely doable, and also kind of amusing and cool. Plus, it's probably easy to think of your own ideas and adapt his techniques to find out how much is inside whatever you're interested in -- even if you're under 10 years old.

However, it's mostly (very fun) text and photos, not videos. I encourage you to read it anyway.

Now I have to go back and read how much is in one lick of ice cream.
posted by amtho at 1:54 PM on October 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was going to bust out putting a bit of Lye and some strips of aluminum foil in a glass Coke bottle. Then a bit of water in a balloon which you stretch over the lip of the bottle while not letting the water dump into the bottle. Then when you lift the balloon and dump the water in the bottle.... it gets a bit hot and makes Hydrogen gas. Presto, hydrogen balloon.

Make Your Own Plastic Out of Vinegar and Milk - Frugal Fun For Boys and Girls. There might be other fun things there.

Not sure what current package thingy is close to the old 35mm plastic film containers. We'd put baking soda and vinegar in them, snap on the lid and just wait for it to go POP and send the lid flying.

Tennis Ball Cannon-Newton's 3rd law // Homemade Science with Bruce Yeany.

I'll second visiting the library and looking for a "101 Science Experiments for Kids" sort of book. I think most of the things I come up with are a couple of years later and from the dangerous kids age when we had chemistry sets and fire and electricity. :) 60's and 70's era experiment books would be a harder sell today for safety and the change in common household supplies.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:38 PM on October 8, 2019

Key words to google are STEM and STEAM. That's the big buzzword in education.
posted by kathrynm at 3:29 PM on October 8, 2019

Best answer: Don Herbert, aka Mr. Wizard, made a long career of bringing science demonstrations to kids. He's got a book or two; here's the one I remember. Here's Experiments for Young Scientists

If he wants some fun outdoorsy skills, there is The Dangerous Book for Boys, for which 8 is the minimum recommended age. There's a sequel, Double Dangerous Book for Boys.

Herbert passed on a while ago, but there is a Mr. Wizard youtube channel.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:23 PM on October 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Would he be interested in making slime, elephant toothpaste, playing with oobleck or doing coffee filter chromatography? Look those up on youtube.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 6:23 PM on October 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Came here to mention Mr. Wizard's Supermarket Science, but I see that Sunburnt already did! I'd add the caveat that I remember that a small number of the experiments in it are uncompletable as they are written, because they're based on some sloppy folklore principles and maybe the editors didn't bother to test them.

But 4/5 stars, would do that part of my childhood again!
posted by Horkus at 7:16 PM on October 8, 2019

Plenty of experiments designed for kids at home here, as well as explanations for how they work (which is often lacking).

Disclaimer: I used to work for that company
posted by cholly at 2:14 AM on October 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mr. Shaha's Recipes for Wonder: "Written by a science teacher and dad, Mr Shaha's Recipes for Wonder gives clear, step-by-step instructions for over 15 experiments."

I bought this for my younger child who is a bit too young for it yet, but it was under the high recommendation of a parent of an unschooler.
posted by jillithd at 7:42 AM on October 9, 2019

Best answer: Just want to jump in and note that the expanding gas “experiment” ppl are suggesting w toilet cleaner & tinfoil in a pop bottle is what schools call a “pipe bomb”, and you’ll want to reinforce keeping that whole process entirely at home. The last time that game was in vogue on YouTube I lost two students to expulsion, the school was locked down all day, and the children were arrested. No one was even close to being hurt, and racism & cops in school hysteria definitely played a part, but absolutely worth remembering as you pursue fun in learning that some of the ppl who influence your child’s life have no sense of humor or perspective.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:29 AM on October 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Okay, another one we did for ourselves was giant bubbles using the recipe listed here. My notes say "use thick cotton string for the loop apparatus".

And expanding on toodleydoodley's comment: One of the safety things to reinforce with kids is to always have a controlled resolution to your experiments. The whole "lye (or hydrochloric acid) and tinfoil in a soda bottle" is bad not because of splashing corrosive stuff around, or because of shrapnel, as long as you have a way to control for them. But the big thing is that if you don't know when and how the explosion is going to take place (eg: waiting for the bottle to burst), there are too many uncontrolled variables for it to be science. Or safe.

So if you're gonna use soda bottles as your pressure vessel, make sure that you have a mechanism to safely puncture the soda bottle. I like pressurizing the bottles with a bike pump (drill a 1/4" hole in the cap, cut a circle out of an inner tube to use the valve from that tube) and then a screw through the end of a long pole to puncture the bottle. Very loud satisfying kaboom, no corrosive splash, a little kickback on the stick (don't use a thin plywood scrap, ask me how I know...).

My parents were always fantastic about "do it with adult supervision, let us help", and I've tried to pass that down to the kids in my life because, yes, there are safe and legal ways to do this.
posted by straw at 8:53 AM on October 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Haven't had time yet to dive in with much detail. Will report back if any are particularly successful!
Ps. A fearless preschooler is also at home so erring on the side of safety
posted by typecloud at 12:03 PM on October 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

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