5 Awesome Science Experiments from Oasis Summer Day Camp

Fall is a time for hot apple cider, jumping and rolling in piles of leaves
and turning your home into a weekend science lab? Yes! Weekends are the perfect time for parents to get hands on with their children's education and expand on the curriculum their kids receive when at school. 

While this is an exciting prospect, it can also be more than a little intimidating. How can you get them to actually WANT to learn and do something that you can facilitate at home? Well, here at Oasis Summer Day Camp, engaging young minds and facilitating fun learning environments is what we do! We've compiled a list of 5 weekend at-home science experiments that you and your kids will love. Get those lab coats ready and let the fun begin. 

5. Rock Candy 

This will be something you and the young ones will be sure to love! This is a great experiment to get kids interested in science because the payoff is a delicious sugar crystal. But in the process they'll be able to get a sneak peek at one of the earth's most wonderful creations: Crystals. 

You will need:

15cm piece of string
A pencil
A paper clip (or large plastic bead)
1 cup of water
2 cups of sugar
A glass jar

What to do:

1. Tie the 15-cm piece of string to the middle of the pencil.
2. Tie the paper clip (or bead) onto the end of the string.
3. Put the pencil across the top of a jar so that the string hangs down the middle of the jar. If it hangs down too far, roll the string around the pencil until the string is not touching the sides or bottom of the jar.

The string will act as a seed for the crystal. Any type of jar will do, but canning jars are best since they can endure hot temperatures. Tall, skinny olive jars are also nice because they don’t use up so much of the liquid.

4. Now that the string and pencil are ready, remove them from the jar and put them aside.

5. Pour the water into a pan and bring it to a boil.

6. Pour about 1/4 cup of sugar into the boiling water, stirring until it dissolves.

7. Keep adding more and more sugar, until no more sugar will dissolve into the water. This will take time and patience. It's going to take longer for the sugar to dissolve each time more is added. Be sure you don’t give up too soon and just keep stirring!

8. Carefully pour the hot sugar solution into the jar and fill it to the top. Submerge the paper clip and string into the sugar solution. Be sure the string hangs in the middle of the jar. 

Allow the jar to cool and put it somewhere it will not be disturbed. In a week or so you will have large crystals to enjoy!

How it works: 

Only a certain amount of sugar will stay dissolved in the water. The rest of the sugar particles will begin to join together and form larger and laerger sugar molecules. When the sugar molecules begin to take shape they form a crystal. By adding more and more sugar to the solution, you were adding the building blocks that the crystal needs to keep creating more and more beautiful formations. 

4. Make Plastic Milk

Milk is more than just a delicious source of calcium. It can also be made into plastic. Follow the steps below and watch your liquid milk turn to a solid.

You will need: 

One cup of milk. 

4 teaspoons of white vinegar

A bowl

A strainer

Adult Help

What to do:

  1. Ask your friendly adult to heat up the milk until it is hot, but not boiling.
  2. Now ask the adult to carefully pour the milk into the bowl.
  3. Add the vinegar to the milk and stir it up with a spoon for about a minute.
  4. Now the fun part, pour the milk through the strainer into the sink - careful it may be hot!
  5. Left behind in the strainer is a mass of lumpy blobs.
  6. When they are cool enough, you can rinse the blobs off in water while you press them together.
  7. Now just mold it into a shape and it will harden in a few days. - Cool!

How it works:

The "Plastic" blobs that comes as a result of this experiment are actually a substance called Casein. Casein forms when the proteins in milk meet vinegar. Milk proteins and vinegar don't mix well together and so instead of staying nice and liquidy, they form blobs. 

3. Chicken Sounds from a cup! 

This will impress the kiddies and gives them an insight to how some musical instruments generate the beautiful music we all love. 

You will need:

A plastic drinking cup

Yarn or cotton string (nylon string will not work well)

1 paper clip

paper towel

A nail

Scissors

Water

What to do:

  1. Cut a piece of yarn about 20 inches (40 cm) long.
  2. Ask an adult to use the nail and carefully punch a hole in the center of the bottom of the cup.
  3. Tie one end of the yarn to the middle of the paper clip.
  4. Push the other end of the yarn through the hole in the cup.
  5. Get a piece of paper towel about the size of a dollar bill, then fold it once and get it damp in the water.
  6. Now it's time to make some noise! Hold the cup firmly in one hand, and wrap the damp paper towel around the string near the cup. While you squeeze the string, pull down in short jerks so that the paper towel tightly slides along the string. If all goes well - you hear a chicken!

How it works:

Vibrations are all around us, but unless they are amplified, like through a piano or music box, we can't hear the sounds. By using the cup as an amplifier for the vibrations created by the string, you'll begin to hear a chicken!

2. Create a color show with Milk! 

This is an amazing experiment and is always a crowd pleaser! Create your own tie dyed, color explosion. 

You will need: 

A flat tray (like a cookie or baking try)

Food coloring (at least 3 different colors)

Whole milk - low fat milk will not work for this experiment

Liquid dish washing soap

What to do:

  1. Carefully pour the milk into the tray so that it just covers the bottom.
  2. Add about 6-8 drops of different colored food coloring onto the milk in different spots.
  3. Add about 5 drops of the liquid soap onto the drops of food coloring and watch the show!
  4. To clean up, simply pour the colored milk down the drain. (don't drink it!)

How it works:

The dish washing liquid is actually breaking down the fat from the milk and dispersing it throuhgout the pan. By adding the colors, you can watch the dispersal and are getting a front row seat to how dish soap works. 

1. Build your own diet coke and mentos geyser! 

This is the creme de la creme of at home science. Messy, high flying and wildly entertaining science come together for this incredible experiment. And it's not just about spraying diet coke 10 feet in the air. 

You will need: 

A roll of mint Mentos (6 Mentos per geyser is enough)

A piece of paper

A playing card or a business card

A pair of goggles (lab coats are optional, but of course, stylish)

A bottle of Coke Zero or Diet Coke (2-liter bottles are great)

Tip: Make sure the soda is at room temperature.

Tip: For a higher geyser, make the bottle opening smaller. 

What to do:

1. Go outside where you can make a big mess.

2. Open the bottle of Coke and place it on the ground.

3. Put on your goggles. Be safe and look cool!

4. Roll the paper into a tube so that the Mentos will just fit inside.

5. Hold the tube of paper upright and put the card over the bottom of the tube.

6. Load 4-6 Mentos into the tube, holding the card so they don’t fall out.

7. Carefully hold the tube and card directly on top of the bottle, lining up the tube and the mouth of the bottle.

8. Pull the card out from under the tube, letting the Mentos drop into the bottle.

9. Run!

How it works:

The geyser is created by a process called Nucleation. The fizz from the soda is highly attracted to the sugary coating of the Mentos. When all of then fizz starts moving towrds the Mentos at high speed, it creates incredible amounts of pressure within the bottle. As the pressure builds, it needs a way to escape and thus the geyser erupts from the nozzle of the bottle. 

These are just a few at-home science experiments to keep your youngster's mind engaged on the weekend. At Oasis Summer Day Camp, we believe in all forms of education and activity such as science, athletics, art, music and so much more! Oasis summer day camp is owned and operated by a teacher and a school psychologist. We understand what your child needs to expand their minds and their horizons. 

Contact us today for more information on how we encourage learning and why we won the "Best of Winnetka" award in 2011 and 2012 in the sports and recreation category.