12 Easy Science Projects For Teens During Lockdown

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One of the secrets to homeschooling is variety, and getting teens away from the books and doing something practical is ideal. It makes it easier to learn the theory and if your teen is a visual or kinetic learner, doing something practical is preferable to reading a book. Here are science experiments and projects that should inject some fun into home science. We have tried to include experiments that use items you are likely to already have at home.

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1. Make a silver egg

Your teens will have probably made rubber eggs, and carried out the egg drop challenge. But have they done this science experiment to turn an ordinary chicken egg into a silver egg?

What you need:

- Candle

- Lighter

- Raw egg

- Jar or container of water

- Tongs


Method

Light a small candle or tealight, then move the egg around over the flame until the whole egg is covered in soot. Once you have a good sooty coating, gently place it in the jar of water. Look at the egg through the side of the jar and you will see it looks like mercury glass.

Watch this experiment, and be inspired by some more egg-related ideas.

2. Make plastic polymers from milk

You will need

- Milk

- Vinegar

- Bowl

- Spoon

- Sieve

- Cookie cutters


Method

Add a pint of milk to a saucepan and heat it until it is hot but not boiling, then carefully pour it into a bowl. Add some vinegar to the milk and then stir it around until you see blobs forming in the bowl. Next, strain the milk through a sieve. You will be left with a mass of blobby lumps. Leave to cool a little and then rinse with water. Press all the blobs together to form a 'dough' and squeeze out the liquid. Flatten out onto a smooth surface and then cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. Leave to harden over a couple of days.

The science part

What you have actually made is casein, which is made when the milk's proteins meet the acid in the vinegar. the casein will not mix with the acid, so it forms the blobs you strained out.

Watch this experiment in action.

3. How does temperature affect the rate of diffusion?

Useful for practising recording results in science experiments.

You will need

- Food dye

- Small wide glass, lid or petri dish if you have it

- Dropper/pipette.

- Thermometer

- Stopwatch or smartphone

- Squared paper


Method

Fill the glass or dish with cold water. Measure the temperature. Place the container on squared or graph paper. Add a drop of food dye into the centre (if you have a proper pipette, measure out 1cm3). Set the stopwatch for 1.5 minutes. Measure how much of the dish the dye has spread to using the graph paper as your guide.  Repeat using lukewarm water and then using hot water.

The science part

Record all your measurements and then create a graph to show them. Explain what you have discovered about the effect of water temperature on the rate of diffusion. Think about what other factors could affect the rate of diffusion.

Watch a similar experiment.

4.Build a rocket

Even the coolest teens should enjoy this!

You will need

- Bottle of water

- Snap top canister - film canister, fizzy vitamin C tablet tube, Smarties tube

- Alka Seltzer tablets

- Cardboard/hot glue (if you are making a rocket frame)

- Safety glasses/goggles


Method

Build a rocket frame from the cardboard. Add water - this is your fuel - to the canister. Drop an Alka Seltzer tablet (the oxidiser) into the canister, quickly add the lid and step back before blast off.

The science part

The explosion is caused by mixing an acid and a base, making carbon dioxide. Measure how high the rocket flies. Experiment with using more or less fuel and more or less oxidiser.

Watch the tutorial online.

5.Solve a crime

Fans of TV shows such as CSI will enjoy delving into the world of forensic science by learning how to take fingerprints.

You will need

- Microscope slide or a smooth piece of glass

- Fingerprint powder or any fine powder (talcum powder, cornflour, or cocoa powder)

- Small brush with very soft bristles

- Clear sticky tape


Method

Touch the slide or glass with your fingers to leave some prints (you can moisturise hands first to leave more residue). Sprinkle your dusting powder on the slide, and gently brush off. Stick the tape over the fingerprint and lift it up - this should leave the print on the tape. Stick to a darker piece of paper to keep a record of the print.

The science part

Take fingerprints of family members. Colour on a piece of paper using a graphite pencil, then get each person to rub their finger in pencil and then roll their finger over the tape. Keep records of the prints and then try to identify them from objects around the home, such as doorknobs and handles.

Watch a forensics expert demonstrate how the experts lift fingerprints - even bloody ones!

6. Measure how heart rate changes with exercise

Find out which of your favourite forms of exercise is keeping your heart healthy.

You will need

- A smartphone or tablet

- Google's Science Journal app or an activity tracker, like a Fitbit

- Some energy for doing the exercise!


Method

Devise five different activities, for instance, running around the garden, jumping upstairs, going for a brisk walk, shooting some hoops or scoring goals, doing 20 star jumps. Use the Science Journal app or FitBit to visualise your heart rate, or your activity tracker to measure it and find out which activity makes your heart beat faster.

The science part

Alter the length and rate of the exercises to see how that affects your heart rate.

7. Extract your own DNA

DNA

You will need

- Small paper cups

- Bottle of sports drink or a strong saltwater solution

- Washing up liquid (preferably colourless or very light)

- Pineapple juice

- Wooden skewer

- Surgical spirit

- Food colour

- Narrow container with a lid


Method

Put the surgical spirit in the freezer 24 hours before you start.  Put 500ml water into a cup and add a tablespoon of salt or use the sports drink. Gargle the water and spit into a cup, Add some washing up liquid and a few drops of pineapple juice. Mix together gently. Then carefully pour the alcohol mixed with food colouring down the side of the glass so that it sits on top of the sports drink or saltwater mixture.  You should be able to see the DNA floating in the alcohol - you can extract it by winding around the skewer.

The science part

Pineapple juice contains enzymes that help to break down the cell membrane. Try extracting DNA from fruits such as bananas, or vegetables such as spinach.

Watch the experiment in action.

8. Make a vegetable pH indicator

Did you know you can use red cabbage as a pH indicator?

You will need

- Red cabbage

- Knife or food processor

- Boiling water

- Coffee filter

- One large glass or jar

- Six smaller glass jars

- Household solutions such as  baking soda, washing powder, lemon juice etc

- Safety glasses/goggles and gloves.


Method

Cut the cabbage into small pieces. You need about two cups full. Place in the large beaker and cover with boiling water. Leave for around 10 minutes until the colour begins to leach out. Use a sieve to get rid of the cabbage parts and leave you with a red-purple liquid. This liquid will be about pH 7.  Divide the liquid between the six smaller glasses and then add a different household solution to each one to test its pH level.

The science part

The resulting colour of the liquid will show you the pH level Red - pH 2, purple pH 4, blue-purple pH 6, Blue, pH 8, Blue-green pH 10 and greeny yellow pH 12. Try making your own litmus paper by soaking strips of coffee filter paper in the red cabbage juice. Dry before use.

Watch The Sci Guys conduct this experiment.

9. Make a fire extinguisher

Learn how to put out candles with this clever trick.

You will need

- White vinegar

- Sodium bicarbonate

- Candles or tea lights

- Container or trough

- Large jug


Method

Light the candles and place in a trough or container, put the sodium bicarbonate in a jug and add the vinegar, then 'pour' the resulting gas over the candles to extinguish them.

The science part

The carbon dioxide is released by the endothermic reaction in the jug.

Watch the video here.

10. Bend water

Discover how you can 'bend' water with this cool science trick.

You will need

- A bottle or a cold water tap

- A piece of plastic pipe

- A piece of nylon - tights or similar

Method

Pour a stream of water out of a bottle or turn on the tap. Charge up the plastic rod by rubbing with the nylon material. Then bring the rod up close to the water stream - don't touch it though. As the rod gets close, the stream of water will bend towards it.

The science part

The rod is charged up with static electricity, which can attract the water stream.

Don't believe it? See for yourself.

Water

11. Make a sky in a glass

Demonstrate why the sky is blue and sunsets are orange.

You will need

  • Milk
  • Water
  • Glass
  • Torch


Method

Fill the glass with water, and add a teaspoon of milk. Stir well. Take into a dark room. Shine the torch on the glass from above - it should look blue. Then shine the light through the side of the glass - it should look reddish, Finally, shine the light up through the base and look down into the water from the top. The water should be a deeper red.

The science part

The milk particles behave as dust particles do in the atmosphere, scattering light waves.

See how this works.

12. Make a metal ball

This could take a while!

You will need

- Tinfoil

- Sanding block

- Hammer

- Polisher


Method

Make a ball out of tinfoil. Hammer it into shape and keep adding extra layers. When you have a decent-sized, solid ball, use a sanding block to polish it. You can keep on polishing it - use a polishing plate on an electric drill if you have one.

Watch how it's done here.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents. 

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.  

Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong. 

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Naomi MacKay
Mum of one

Mum of one teenage boy, near Leighton Buzzard, Beds. Born and raised in the Home Counties, Naomi has explored much of London, along with Beds, Herts and Bucks, with her son and husband. When she’s not driving to various skateparks around the UK, Naomi loves finding somewhere new to explore or a new activity they can all try.