Summer Sanity: Backyard Science Experiments

This Guest Post is a part of Summer Sanity, a series of posts for parents to gain ideas and inspiration for how to keep their children happy, active, educated and having fun during the long summer months.

Today’s Activity: Backyard Science Experiments



Looking for fun things to do this summer that can also be a learning tool to bridge summer and school? Why not blow things up?
Oh, don’t be alarmed – there are a lot of simple backyard science experiments that are fun and cheap to do. They can be great ways to bond and frankly who doesn’t love blowing stuff up? Every time I do one of these experiments with my kids I think of the old SCTV skit with Bob and Doug McKenzie: “That blowed up good! Blowed up real good. HeHeHe..!”

One summer when my kids were a bit younger and the little one with special needs couldn’t manage day camps, we resorted to hands on backyard fun. These are two of our go to backyard science experiments.

Diet coke volcanoes:
Diet Coke bottle 2 litre
Mentos (regular)
(Do in the middle of the yard or in a field. It explodes pretty far.)

Open the pop bottle and set it upright so it doesn’t fall over by accident. Add about one tbsp of dishsoap. Unwrap the mentos. You have to drop all of them in at once as fast as possible. Then run!! (I have never yet managed to get all in at once. I usually run when there are about three left.) It explodes pretty well and makes everything sticky. That’s why you should do this in a field.

Anger volcano: Or dinosaur volcano.
Red food dye
Empty pop bottle
baking soda, vinegar
Red construction paper or green paper to wrap around the bottle and make it fancy.
A pan to catch the spill off

Take the empty bottle and decorate it as you see fit. If you want to chat about anger then decorate it with paper to make it look like a volcano, or choose the green and turn it into a dinosaur. Take the vinegar and pour until 3/4s full, add red food dye. A couple of tsps at most. Take 1-2 tbsps of baking soda and add into the bottle fast. If it doesn’t fizz right away give it a bit of a shake. (The whole solution should be almost filling the bottle or it won’t foam over the top as you want it to, so adjust amounts accordingly depending on the size of your bottle. Make sure it is at least 3/4s full of vinegar.)

Talk about anger – for little kids this is a great way for them to see feelings. So your feelings are often contained within the bottle (body) but sometimes you get so mad, they spill over and you explode, then the pressure is relieved and you feel a bit better but you have a mess to clean up.

Now if you want to be really savvy as a parent, clean that all up and start over. Do everything the same except for the baking soda part. Add the soda so slowly that it never fizzes right over the top. Tell them this is how anger can be managed. Slowly let a bit of the air out of the bottle as you are adding the soda (stress) and if you do this slowly enough the experiment this time will show that anger can be managed if you deal with it calmly and remember to let your steam out slowly so the pressure never builds to the point of exploding.

Have fun experimenting! And by the way, you are the coolest parent in town when you do stuff like this for summer fun.

By Paula Schuck
You can find Paula in the following places:

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4 Responses to Summer Sanity: Backyard Science Experiments

  1. A. Smith says:

    You had me at dinosaur volcano and then really had me at the learning lesson this could be for us. I like the slow release of stress because my daughter has seen me with a little too much stress lately so by example I could show her what I should be doing. Excellent idea – these are great posts!!

  2. el03ro says:

    July 31-I love these experiments and I know my granddaughter would love them as well. I know the second one would also be a good lesson on anger management, as you have stated. Thank you for sharing with us. el03ro

  3. I love that you use the volcano to express emotions. That is very creative! We will have to try this when the babies get bigger.

    : 0 ) Theresa

  4. Susan T. says:

    I’ve seen youtube videos of this and it’s pretty cool! My nephew would love it!

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