At-home projects to cultivate a love of chemistry and science
When I started homeschooling, we knew science would be an important part. Being married to a geologist, there was no other way. The kids had been filling their pockets with soil samples since they could walk and the joke “you have to go to college before you can lick a rock” was always heard here (apparently the taste and color change in a rock can help identify it).
After my husband and I painstakingly chose our curriculum, I was surprised to see the science portion was little more than a coloring book. Even more surprising, it is not uncommon.
...I came to the conclusion the easiest way to get the glue out was to make it into slime and scoop it out. No way did I have enough activator to handle 10 gallons of glue…
Unfortunately science is often an overlooked subject in classrooms, leaving many students struggling. The National Assessment of Educational Progress for Science, found that only 38% of fourth grade students were at grade level in science.
Hands on science is important in cultivating a love of learning, building observation skills, and starting a strong foundation that will be the bedrock (I can hear those geology jokes now) to the advanced science class in high school.
So I went on a mission to add more science to our homeschooling.
Our Slime & Bathtub Lesson
Around this time, Emily’s Wonder Lab was released on Netflix. How perfect, I thought! A women scientist (hello role model for my daughter) who was obviously pregnant (we had a newborn at the time) teaching a group of spunky children science through hands-on experiments you can do at home. We watched a random episode about making slime. My daughter and son were hooked, requesting to make the slime before the show was even over.
Me, overly ambitious and wrapped up in their excitement, ordered the largest glue I could find, and two days later a 10 gallon glue jug was at our door. We make a plan to make the slime after I get the baby down for a nap.
Once the baby finally falls asleep and I go to tell the kids it is slime time... I find my daughter pouring the whole bottle of glue into our bathtub (in the show they make slime in a massive pool and swim around in it so I guess this makes a logical slime vessel to a 5 year old budding scientist).
After some deep breathing, okay a lot of very deep breaths trying not to lose my cool, I came to the conclusion the easiest way to get the glue out was to make it into slime and scoop it out. No way did I have enough activator to handle 10 gallons of glue…
Thank goodness for google because I learned contact solution and baking soda can make slime. After pouring my Costco sized contact solution bottles and baking soda in the bath tub, they mixed it with their feet, all while yelling “This is just like the show!!” A bathtub full of glue turned into a slime fight and a memory we will never forget.
The seeds of science definitely were planted, talk of paramours and their chains were all the rage at dinner that week and we made every color of slime imaginable that week.
¾ cup glue, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 ½ tablespoon contact solution, mix till slime consistency, adding more contact solution if sticky
(Contact solution not your thing? Elmers glue now sells slime activator right next to their glue, just mix in and you get slime, just like magic (well science).)
We tried so many other tactile science experiments too. The favorite (besides the bathtub slime) was by far clear slime, made with clear glue, with glitter mixed in.
Fluffy slime witches brew for Halloween, our Elf on the Shelf brought a “snow” experiment, and homemade lava lamps (the winner hands down).
Fluffy Slime Recipe:
Add 1 cup shaving cream to your favorite slime recipe
Elf on the Shelf “Snow”:
3 cups baking soda mixed with ½ cup white conditioner. Because of the chemical reaction, not only does it feel similar to snow, but it is cold. We made it on a massive scale in water tables for my daughter Elsa themed birthday party and we had a yard full of young girls singing “Wanna Build a Snowman” while shaping Olaf out of this stuff.
In a tall clear glass, fill about ¼ with water and color with your choice of color. Fill to about ¾ full with vegetable oil and let the water and oil fully separate. Drop pieces of Alka Seltzer tabs in and watch your lamp come to life.
Need more ideas?
We enjoy watching experiments and then recreating them. We love Emily’s Wonder Lab (even with a bathtub of glue), and Mythbusters Jr. Want even more hands on experiments, taught by experts? Try Monster Education’s 10 Week course Hands-On Science where students learn the principals of science in very small groups of 4-6 kids with live video classes taught by accredited and vetted teachers. More hands-on experiments are coming your way (no bathtubs required).
Elizabeth Hammond holds a Masters of Science in Education and is a former Behavioral Specialist and special education consultant turned homeschooling mom of 3. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys cooking, gardening, especially herb gardens, and all things Halloween, from crafts and decor to family themed costumes.