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Top Chemistry Projects for Bored Kids
Are you searching for something fun and educational to do that suitable for kids? Here are some great chemistry activities and projects to get you started. They are safe and use easy-to-find materials.
Top Chemistry Demonstrations & Activities
This is the list of my personal favorite chemistry demonstrations and activities. They tend to involve pretty colors, fire, or ice. Some projects require adult supervision or access to a chemistry lab. Others are easy and safe enough for kids to perform.
Absinthe Chemistry
Absinthe has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity, as countries lift the ban on making the green wormwood and anise-flavored spirit. Learn about the history of the liqueur, why it was banned, a bit about its chemistry, how to make absinthe, and how to drink it.
Aspirin Synthesis - Acetylsalicylic Acid
Learn how to synthesize aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, from salicyclic acid. Get information about the history of aspirin, the effects of salicylates, and see the structures of the reactants.
Baggie Chemistry - Experiment with Chemical Reactions
Introduce students to chemical reactions and experimentation using common materials and baggies.
Baking Soda & Vinegar Foam Fight
This is a twist on the classic baking soda volcano, where you use the ingredients to make squirt-able fountains of foam.
Baking Soda Volcano
Okay, it's the kitchen equivalent of a volcano, not a real one. The 'eruption' is cool all the same! It's also more or less non-toxic, which adds to its appeal.
Bath Salts
Use chemistry to make gifts or to pamper yourself. These are instructions for scented and colored bath salts.
Big Alum Crystal
Do you want to grow a big single crystal instead of a mass of crystals? Then try out these instructions for growing a big alum crystal. You can apply the techniques used here to grow big single crystals of other substances, too.
Black Powder or Gunpowder
Black powder is used as a propellant for bullets, as well as for fireworks and rocketry. Use these instructions for history, not practical application!
Blue Bottle Color Change Demonstration
Learn how to perform the blue bottle chemistry demonstration, in which a blue liquid becomes clear, then returns to blue when swirled around. Instructions are also given for red -> clear -> red and green -> red -> green reactions.
Borax Snowflake Instructions
Do real snowflakes melt too quickly? Grow a borax snowflake, color it blue if you like, and enjoy the sparkle all year long!
Bouncing Polymer Ball
Use chemistry to make a bouncing polymer ball, then alter the procedure to see the effect the changes have on the charactertistics of the bouncing ball.
Briggs-Rauscher Oscillating Color Change Reaction
The Briggs-Rauscher reaction, also known as 'the oscillating clock', is one of the most common demonstrations of a chemical oscillator reaction. Three colorless solutions are mixed together, producing a mixture that oscillates between clear, amber, and deep blue.
Bubble Solution
Save some pennies and make this bubble mix yourself! Most drugstores and pharmacies carry glycerine.
Burning Money Chemistry Demonstration
Set money on fire and watch it burn out without damaging the bill. This is a nice magic trick, based on everyday chemistry.
Charcoal Crystal Garden Instructions
Make delicate, colorful crystals! This is a great classic crystal-growing project. You use charcoal briquettes (or other porous materials), ammonia, salt, bluing, and food coloring to grow a sort of crystal garden.
Chemistry Fun with Pennies
Use pennies, nails, and a few simple household ingredients to explore some of the interesting properties of metals. Clean the pennies chemically, make verdigris, and plate the nails with copper.
Christmas Chemistry - Make Peppermint Cream Wafers
Chemistry and cooking share a lot in common! You can have some Christmas chemistry fun in the lab making these peppermint cream wafer candies.
Christmas Tree or Floral Preservative Recipe
Is there a secret special ingredient in those little packets of floral preservative? No! It's easy and economical to make your own Christmas tree or cut flower preservative, using ingredients found at home.
Classic Chemical Volcano
Here are the instructions for making the classic chemical volcano. This demonstration uses ammonium dichromate to produce 'Vesuvius fire', with glowing sparks and a cone of deep green ash.
Color Fire
Have you ever wanted to color fire? Here are simple, nontechnical instructions for making your own colored flames. Add extra interest to your fireplace or campfire!
Colored Chalk
This is cool colored chalk, for sidewalks or anywhere! Washes off with water, too.
Colored Soap Bubbles
Make brightly colored pink and blue soap bubbles that won't stain clothing or surfaces.
Copper and Brass Cleaner
Use these easy instructions to combine common household ingredients to make your own copper, brass, and bronze cleaner.
Crystal Spikes in the Sun
Most crystals take days or weeks to form. Use this technique if you have a sunny day and want crystals FAST!
Disappearing Ink Instructions
Learn how to make blue or red ink that will disappear after exposure to air. Tips for restoring the color and an explanation of the acid-base chemistry of the reaction are also included.
Distill Ethanol or Grain Alcohol
Learn how to distill your own ethanol, also knows as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol.
Edible Fake Barf
Making a simulant is a form of chemistry, right? Here are instructions for making your own edible fake barf. Ick!
Electroactive Slime Instructions
This recipe makes cool, non-toxic slime that appears to have a life of its own!
Endothermic Reaction (Safe)
Most endothermic reactions contain toxic chemicals, but this citric acid and sodium bicarbonate reaction is safe and easy.
Epsom Salt Crystals
Epsom salt crystals are easy to grow and form quickly. Here's what you need to know to make your own magnesium sulfate crystals.
Exothermic Chemical Reaction
Exothermic chemical reactions produce heat. In this reaction vinegar is used to remove the protective coating from steel wool, allowing it to rust. When the iron combines with oxygen, heat is released.
Fake Blood Recipe
This results in a non-toxic, realistic stage blood.
Fake Glass
These instructions will result in either clear or amber glass, depending on the cooking time used.
Fake Snot
This is a gooey, gross variation of the traditional slime recipe, great for Halloween and other occasions requiring snot.
Fake Wounds
Let's combine chemicals (ingredients) to make fake wounds suitable for Halloween or other special events.
Fizzy Bath Bomb
Use your chemistry to make a fizzy, scented bath bomb. Make them for yourself or give them as gifts!
Frozen Bubbles
Use dry ice to freeze bubbles solid so that you can pick them up and examine them closely. You can use this project to demonstrate several scientific principles, such as density, interference, semipermeability, and diffusion.
Fruity Putty
These are step-by-step instructions on how to make fruity putty.
Grow Silver Crystals
All it takes is silver nitrate and either copper wire or mercury to grow these sparkling metal crystals.
Gas Preparation
Here are simple instructions for preparing common gases from ordinary chemicals. The gases include carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorine, and several others.
Gel Air Fresheners
Feeling crafty? If you can make Jello, then you can make your own gel air fresheners. It's easy and fun. You can choose your own scents and colors. For holiday fun, consider layering different colored gels or using seasonal fragrances (e.g., pine or cinnamon for Christmas).
Gelatin Plastic
Colorful gelatin shapes can be used to make jewelry, mobiles, decorations, and more!
Glow in the Dark Ink
These are instructions for making glow in the dark ink. However, the instructions are presented as a curiosity or for information only, NOT for use.
Gunk Recipe
This is sort of like slime, but drier and very non-toxic if left uncolored.
How to Grow Great Crystals
Do you want to grow crystals, but you aren't sure where to start or what to do to make sure your crystals turn out well? Here's some basic information on crystal growing. I've provided links to recipes so you can start growing crystals. These instructions are general, so if your recipe calls for something special (like no vibrations or dark), be sure to follow those directions, too.
Ice Cream in a Baggie
Make a tasty treat and learn about freezing point depression, too! All you need are some basic ingredients and two ziploc baggies. It's easy, fun, and educational.
Invisible Ink - Baking Soda
These are quick and easy instructions for making non-toxic invisible ink using baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).
Invisible Ink - Corn Starch
The writing for this invisible ink technique is done using corn starch. An iodine solution is used to reveal the message.
Invisible Ink - Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is acidic and weakens paper. When paper is heated, the remaining acid turns the writing brown before discoloring the paper.
Iron from Breakfast Cereal
Cold breakfast cereals are usually fortified with iron. What does the iron look like? Find out here!
Koolaid Playdough
This recipe results in an edible, fruit-scented playdough.
Lava Lamp - Non-Toxic Version
While real lava lamps and lava lites rely on trade secrets, you can get a similar effect with simple household ingredients.
Lava Lamp - Realistic Version
These instructions for making a lava lamp or lava lite are for the experienced hobbyist, not kids or novices.
Lickable Stickers
This is a recipe for non-toxic sticker glue.
Liquid Magnets - Synthesize Ferrofluid
Make your own ferrofluid, or liquid magnet, which can be used with a magnet to change the liquid's density and to form spikes and other amazing shapes.
Metamucil Flubber
This recipe makes a non-sticky sort of 'rubber' or gelatinous slime.
Moonshine Instructions
This is how ethanol is distilled. The potable form of ethanol from corn is sometimes called Moonshine or White Lightning.
Natural Easter Egg Dyes
These are easy instructions for making your own natural Easter egg dyes, using fruits, vegetables, and spices.
Natural Plastic from Dairy
Plastics are generally produced from petroleum, but they can come from other sources as well! All that is really required is the ability to join molecules containing carbon and hydrogen together, which you do whenever you curdle milk.
Natural Toothpaste
It's fast, easy, non-toxic, and fluoride-free! Use these instructions to make your own natural toothpaste.
Non-Toxic Glue from Milk
Use common kitchen materials to make your own glue. Add vinegar to milk, separate the curds, and add baking soda and water. Glue!
Non-Toxic Fingerpaints
These finger paints are just right for aspiring artists! Use soap and water for clean-up. Be aware that the food coloring could stain fabrics and furniture.
Non-Toxic Paste
This is the classic, simple flour paste.
Non-Toxic Smoke or Fog
While renting a smoke machine is a reliable option, here are fog instructions for the do-it-yourself types.
Patriotic Density Column
This is a fun chemistry-type decoration for July 4th or any time you want a colorful demonstration of density layers. Use different colored lamp oils and food colors for other holidays.
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
Make liquid nitrogen ice cream as a cool cryogenics or phase change demonstration or for a quick and tasty treat.
Make a Mixture and a Compound from Iron and Sulfur
Do you know the difference between a mixture and a compound? Combine iron and sulfur to make a mixture and then react them to form a chemical compound.
Magic Rocks - Chemical Garden
Learn about the chemistry behind magic rocks and make your own chemical crystal garden.
Mentos & Diet Soda Chemical Volcano
Candies and diet soda together can make a chemical 'volcano' with an eruption several feet high. If the normal baking soda volcano is too tame for you, give this project a try.
Paper Chromatography with Leaves
Most plants contain several pigment molecules, so experiment with different leaves to see the wide range of pigments.
Purple Chromium Alum Crystals
Learn how to grow purple chromium alum crystals and how to grow clear crystals over a core of colored crystals.
Recrystallization Instructions
Recrystallization is a laboratory technique used to purify a sample based on the different solubilites of its components. Learn how to perform a recrystallization and get tips on how to avoid common problems and improve your product yield.
Red Cabbage pH Indicator
Make your own pH indicator solution! Red cabbage juice indicator is easy to make, exhibits a wide range of colors, and can be used to make your own pH paper strips.
Red Potassium Ferricyanide Crystals
These are instructions for growing easy red monoclinic crystals. Don't let the 'cyanide' part of the chemical name put you off -- these crystals aren't edible, but neither are they more toxic than most other compounds.
Remove Fluoride from Drinking Water
Learn how to remove fluoride from drinking water. Also learn ways to reduce fluoride exposure and find out what types of filtration don't reduce fluoride concentration.
Resin Papier Mache Paste
This papier mache paste dries to a hard finish.
Rock Tumbler Instructions
Here are instructions for tumbling rocks using a rotary drum tumbler and a vibratory tumbler, as well as instructions for polishing jewelry in a rock tumbler. Helpful tips are included for improving the polish and troubleshooting problems.
Saponification Reaction Instructions
Making your own soap can be a time-consuming process, but you can demonstrate the saponification reaction quickly and easily by reacting oil of wintergreen and sodium hydroxide to make sodium salicylate.
Silver Polishing Dip
Why use elbow grease to remove tarnish from silver when all you need to do is dip it in this easy-to-make nontoxic solution? I've also included some tips for preventing tarnish in the first place.
Singing Cake
This is the recipe for a singing cake. The cake sings while baking and then it is ready to eat!
Slime Recipe
There are lots of recipes for slime. Since most recipes are easy, look for one using ingredients you have on hand.
Snow Globe Instructions
The 'chemistry' part of this lies in choosing a good liquid and sealant for your globe. Nontoxic and fun!
Soapmaking Instructions
These are the instructions for making your own gentle hand or face soap. It's work, but worth the effort!
Sparkler Instructions
Learn how to make your own sparklers, for Independence Day or New Years Day fun. Use your understanding of chemistry to color the sparks.
Sparkly Paint Recipe
This non-toxic paint uses starch and salt for its glittery effects.
Sugar Crystals - Make Your Own Rock Candy
Sugar crystals are also known as rock candy since the crystallized sucrose resembles rock crystals and because you can eat your finished product. You can grow clear sugar crystals with sugar and water or you can add food coloring to get colored crystals. It's simple, safe, and fun.
Table Salt or Sodium Chloride Crystals
It's easy to grow your own table salt or sodium chloride crystals. All it takes is salt and boiling water. One method even yields crystals within a few hours. Here's what you need to know.
Tattoo Ink Instructions
If you understand sterilization techniques, some of the safest and best tattoo inks may be those you mix yourself.
Tin Crystal Growing Instructions
It's easy to grow crystals of tin metal using a simple replacement reaction. You can see the crystals in an hour or so, or leave them overnight for more/larger crystals.
Water into Wine Demonstration
Turn a clear liquid into a red liquid, then back to clear again. This demonstration is commonly called turning water into wine or blood, and can be used to demonstrate acid-base indicators.
Wave Tank
Wave tanks use liquids with two different densities that won't mix together. Here's an easy, non-toxic method.
White Smoke Chemistry Demonstration
Learn how to perform the white smoke chemistry demonstration, in which a cloud of ammonium chloride crystals are produced from reacting ammonia and hydrochloric acid.