The kids will love doing these easy science experiments at home with fruit and materials you may already have on hand. Try making lemon volcanoes or sending a secret message to a friend with a banana! Instructions for both experiments are below. Thank you to STEAM activity blogger and book author Andrea Scalzo Yi who shared these projects with us. Discover her book below.
Did you know you can make a volcano using a lemon? In this experiment, you will use lemons (an acid) and baking soda (a base) to make lemon volcanoes.
- 2 or more lemons
- Glass baking dish
- Liquid food coloring
- Dish soap
- Baking soda
- Craft stick or fork
Have a grown-up cut off the ends of the lemons so they stand up in the baking dish. Then have them cut the lemons in half. Place the lemon halves in the baking dish with the middle of the lemons facing upward. Add a few drops of food coloring to the lemons in whatever color you want your volcanoes to be. Add a small squirt of dish soap to each lemon half, and sprinkle the baking soda over them. To activate the volcanoes, take a craft stick and stab it into each lemon half a few times. Watch as the lemons start to fizz and bubble!
The How and Whys
When an acid (citric acid in lemon juice) and a base (baking soda) combine, a chemical reaction occurs, and carbon dioxide and sodium citrate form, causing the liquid to bubble and fizz like a volcano.
Use other citrus fruits such as a lime or orange to make a volcano. Do they work as well as the lemon?
Secret Banana Message
Want to send a secret message to a friend? Here’s a fun way to do it using only a banana and a toothpick.
- Banana (unpeeled)
Lay the banana on its side and locate its largest, flattest area. This will be the best place to write your message. Use the toothpick to make small holes in the banana peel in the shape of letters. At first, you won’t be able to read the message, but if you wait one hour or longer, the message will darken on the banana peel and your message will be readable.
The How and Whys
When the banana peel gets punctured or damaged, the pigments of the peel turn brown. This is due to a chemical called polyphenol oxidase that is released by the cells of the peel. It reacts with oxygen by turning brown.
- Decorate the banana using this method to tap out various patterns and shapes all over the peel.
- If you don’t have a toothpick, try using your fingernail.
- Write a kind message to a friend or parent and give it to them as a surprise.
- Experiment to see if bananas with messages ripen faster than bananas without messages on them.
Both projects are reprinted with permission from “Super Simple Science Experiments for Curious Kids” by Andrea Scalzo Yi. Page Street Publishing Co. 2022. Photo credit: Lucy Baber.