8 Hands-On Experiments to Teach Kids About Chemical Reactions

Updated on April 23, 2020
sadie423 profile image

Sadie has been an online writer for over six years. Her articles often focus on how to teach science.

Source

Chemistry can be defined as the study of matter and how that matter undergoes change. That is a pretty boring definition that leaves out all the fun and excitement that comes with studying chemistry. Chemistry is all around you; it explains baking and why an apple turns brown when cut open. Chemistry is the secret behind some magic tricks and colorful fireworks. So when you teach your students or children about chemistry move away from using textbooks, because this subject is best learned by observation and hands on experimentation.

Experiments About Chemical Reactions

  1. Observing the Formation of a Gas
  2. How a Chemical Reaction Can Produce Heat
  3. The Formation of a Solid
  4. The Occurrence of a Color Change
  5. The Elephant Toothpaste Experiment
  6. Hot Ice
  7. Mentos and Coke Experiment
  8. Separate a Mixture

One note before I move on to the activities. Make sure when you do scientific activities of any kind to go ask questions, go through the scientific method and have them form a hypothesis and discuss if they were correct at the end. It's good practice for more advanced science and it gets the mind working.

1. Observing the Formation of a Gas

The first experiment is a very simple one that shows children how to tell if a chemical reaction has occurred by observing the formation of a gas.

Materials Needed:

  • A bottle
  • vinegar
  • baking soda
  • a balloon
  • a funnel

How It's Done:

  1. Have the kids place a small amount (a couple tablespoons) of baking soda in the balloon using the funnel.
  2. Then have them pour vinegar into the bottle so it is about half full. Very carefully stretch the balloon around the top of the bottle, making sure you keep the balloon down so that the baking soda doesn't fall into the bottle just yet.
  3. Once the kids have formed their guesses have them tip the balloon up to allow the baking soda to drop into the bottle. Make sure they hold the top of the balloon so that it doesn't come off.
  4. Once they have observed the reaction, ask questions. What type of reaction occurred? How do they know? What is inside the balloon?

2. Show How a Chemical Reaction Can Produce Heat

Next we have an experiment that shows how a chemical reaction can produce heat.

Materials Needed:

  • 1 tsp of yeast
  • 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide
  • a stirring stick
  • a thermometer
  • a bowl

How It's Done:

  1. Pour the peroxide into the bowl and place the thermometer in the liquid.
  2. Let it sit for a few minutes until the temperature has stabilized.
  3. Have the kids record this starting temperature.
  4. Now have them make their guess as to what will happen and if it will be a chemical or physical change.
  5. Pour in the yeast and stir. The mixture should start to fizz and bubble which is a clue to the fact that a chemical reaction is happening, but have the kids keep their eye on the thermometer. They can also touch the outside of the bowl to physically feel the temperature change.
  6. Have them record the temperature the end. Were they right? What type of change occurred? What made the temperature rise?

3. Show the Formation of a Solid

Next up is the formation of a solid. You can also use baking as an example for this- bread is formed and cannot be separated back into flour and water, but this one is more fun.

Materials Needed:

  • 3/4 cup of warm water
  • 1 cup of glue
  • a large bowl
  • a cup
  • an additional 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 2 tsp borax
  • a spoon

How It's Done:

  1. Adults: Place the 1/2 cup of warm water into a cup and stir in the 2 tsp of borax
  2. Have the kids pour the water and glue into the bowl and stir them together. Ask them for any observations.
  3. Then have them stir while slowly pouring in the borax solution (this is a good 2 person job).
  4. Have them keep stirring until the solid forms completely.
  5. Ask for their observations. Did a chemical change occur? How do they know? This is fun experiment with a fun outcome so don't forget to let them play with the new substance for awhile!

4. Show the Occurrence of a Color Change

The last thing to look for when trying to tell the difference between and chemical and physical reaction is the occurrence of a color change.

Material Needed:

  • 3 test tubes with lids (or any container) filled half full with water
  • food coloring
  • 3 containers: 1 containing bleach, 1 containing vinegar, 1 containing hydrogen peroxide
  • 3 droppers

How It's Done:

  1. Have the kids drop a couple drops of food coloring into each of the tubes containing water.
  2. Tell them you are going to add a different liquid to each of the 3 tubes of colored water and they have to decide if a chemical change happens or not.
  3. Have them take one dropper full of the vinegar and add it to one of the colored tubes.
  4. Cap and shake, or stir, the tube. Allow them to make any observations before repeating this process with the remaining 2 liquids and tubes. The bleach will produce a change in color indicating that a chemical change has occurred.

5. The Elephant Toothpaste Experiment

And finally, here is an activity that can either be done as a demonstration or done by the kids on a smaller scale. It's called elephant toothpaste and it's even better than the exploding baking soda and vinegar. It also shows an example of a reaction that is both exothermic (gives off heat) and produces a gas.

Materials Needed:

  • an empty plastic soda bottle (about 16 oz)
  • 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide ( the 3% version you can get at the store)
  • 1 pkg of yeast
  • 1/4 cup of warm water
  • dish soap
  • a cup
  • optional: food coloring

How It's Done:

  1. Adults: Pour the peroxide into the bottles.
  2. Have the kids place a few drops of food coloring into the bottles with the peroxide.
  3. Add a squirt of dish soap and swirl the bottle to mix.
  4. In the cup, mix the water and yeast and stir for a few seconds to combine.
  5. Then have them pour the yeast into the bottle with the peroxide and watch what happens!
  6. Once the reaction has completed, they can feel the foam and observe the heat that was created. What did they observe? What are the clues that a chemical change occurred?

Note: If you want to make this a demonstration, you can use a higher percentage hydrogen peroxide. You can find 6% at beauty supply stores. And sometimes even higher online. The resulting reaction will be much bigger and more impressive, but should be done completely by an adult.

6. Hot Ice

Teach your students how to make hot ice! When vinegar and baking soda mix, they form a chemical called sodium acetate. We refer to this as "hot ice." It’s an easy and safe experiment that uses supplies from around the house.

Materials Needed:

  • 4 cups of white vinegar {acetic acid}
  • 4 tablespoons of baking soda {sodium bicarbonate}
  • a pot
  • a glass measuring cup or mason jar {heat safe glass}
  • a dish
  • a spoon

How It's Done:

  1. After collecting the supplies, measure out 4 cups of vinegar.
  2. Pouring it into a medium pot.
  3. Next, stir the mixture until all the baking soda has dissolved and stopped fizzing.
  4. Boil the solution over medium low heat for a little over an hour (You’ll want to reduce the solution by about 75% or until you have about 3/4-1 cup). If you boil your solution at a higher temperature it may turn yellow-brownish. Don't worry, the experiment will still work.
  5. Next, pour the concentrated sodium acetate into a glass pyrex measuring cup and placed it in the fridge to cool.
  6. Then scrape a little of the dried sodium acetate powder off the inside of the pot to use later.
  7. After about 30-45 minutes, the solution is cool enough to turn into ice. When you first take the solution out it will still be liquid. The act of pouring it onto a surface turns it into ice. So, grab a glass dish and place a small pile of the sodium acetate powder from the pot in the center (This act as a seed for the crystals to start forming on).
  8. A pillar of cloudy ice will form. Ask your children or students to guess why this has happened.

7. Mentos and Coke Experiment

Kids love experiments that cause eruptions! Plus kids love fizzing science experiments. These types of experiments also increase practical life and fine motor skills. The mentos and coke experience is especially cheap, but it is still fun for kids and adults alike!

Materials Needed:

  • 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke (it’s said that the sugar substitute in Diet Coke kick starts the reaction and gives a bigger geyser)
  • 1 package of Mentos (the original mint flavor, the fruit flavored Mentos are covered in a wax which means there aren’t as many nucleation sites on them)
  • QA place where you can get messy (like a picnic table outside or a driveway)

How It's Done:

  1. Place the bottle of Diet Coke squarely on a flat surface.
  2. Open the bottle.
  3. Drop the Mentos candies into the bottle.
  4. Stand back and watch the geyser spray!

This is a great experiment to help motivate your students to get used to writing observations. Who doesn't love eruptions?

8. Separate a Mixture

Different types of matter can be combined to form mixtures. Thanks to properties such as size, shape, and density, mixtures can be separated back into their different kinds of matter. This experiment will demonstrate this simple concept to your students or children.

Materials Needed:

  • Salt
  • Spoon
  • Coffee filters
  • Water
  • Cups
  • Sand
  • Straw

How It's Done:

  1. Stir a spoonful of sand into a half a cup of warm water. What happens to the sand? Record your observations.
  2. In another cup, stir a spoonful of salt into a half a cup of warm water. What happens to the salt? Record your observations.
  3. Stick the straw into the salt water mixture. Take a small sip.What does it taste like?What does this prove about the salt?
  4. Look at the sand mixture and the salt mixture. How are the mixtures different?Record your observations. Do you think the mixtures can be separated?
  5. Place a coffee filter over one of the empty cups. Carefully and slowly pour the sand mixture into the filter. Record your observations. What happens to the water and the sand?
  6. Try the same filtering method with the sand water. What happened? Taste the “filtered” salt water again with a straw. What do you notice about the taste?
  7. Pour a small amount of salt water into another cup. Set it on a windowsill and observe it every day for a few days. Record your observations. After the water is gone, what is left behind?

What Is a Chemical Change?

A chemical change is when 2 substances are mixed together to form something new. This differs from a physical change, which is a substance changing physical forms but still retains its original properties. Sometimes when a mixture is made it can be hard for kids to tell if a chemical change has occurred. Such as when mixing sugar and water, the sugar appears to be no longer present so children assume a chemical change has happened when in reality the mixture can be separated back into its original substances. There are 4 main clues that a chemical change has occurred.

  1. There is a formation of gas which can be seen by a fizzing or bubbling
  2. The reaction will cause heat, light or odor to be emitted
  3. A color change is produced
  4. A solid is formed during the change

These are good questions to have kids ask themselves while doing the experiments to help them to determine if a chemical change has occurred or if it is simply a physical change.

Cool Chemical Reactions

Chemicals
Outcome
Sodium Polyacrylate and Water
The polymer's ions attract water by diffusion. The polymer absorbs the water within seconds resulting in the almost instantaneous transformation into a gel substance.
Diethylzinc and Air
Diethyl Zinc is a very unstable compound. When it comes in contact with the air, it burns to form zinc oxide, CO2, and water.
Cesium and Water
Cesium is one of the most reactive alkali metals. When it comes into contact with water, it reacts to form cesium hydroxide and hydrogen gas.
Calcium Gluconate
When it is heated, it causes a huge expansion in the molecular structure. This results in a gray snake-like foam caused by vaporization of water and dehydration of hydroxyl groups.
Nitrogen Triiodide
After drying the initial components, NI3 forms, which is a very reactive compound. A simple touch of a feather will set off this highly dangerous contact explosive.
Ammonium Dichromate
When ammonium dichromate is ignited, it decomposes exothermically producing sparks, ash, steam, and nitrogen.

What Is a Physical Change?

A physical change is when a change occurs, but no new substances are formed. Physical changes affect the form of a chemical substance. However, it does not affects its chemical composition. Mixtures can be separated into their parts by physical methods, such as spinning in a centrifuge or by heating certain kinds of matter (think ice turning into water).

Simple Physical Changes

Change
What Happens?
Ice melting
This is a change from a solid to a liquid and the substances maintain the properties of water because the molecules never change.
Dissolving sugar in water
The solid sugar never loses its properties, the molecules become separated by water and the sugar can easily be recovered by evaporating the water.
Water boiling
This is a physical change as water molecules vibrate faster, they enter the gas phase and become water vapor.
Rubbing alcohol left uncovered
It turns to a gas but maintains the properties of alcohol.

Sources

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Gatindr 

      4 weeks ago

      This is bad u can’t do it with steps provided. It is a totally different process then information given

    • profile image

       

      2 months ago

      Amazing

    • profile image

      Nathaniel 

      2 months ago

      So cool!

    • profile image

      ASLKNLKMASLKM 

      4 months ago

      I love this website it is so helpful

    • profile image

      Cassidy 

      4 months ago

      I love the whole thing but the poor cuddle fish

    • profile image

      sally 

      5 months ago

      omg i love these 5 stars

      \

    • profile image

      Molly 

      7 months ago

      How is putting sauce on a squid a chemical change? You're just making it scared. Poor Thing :(

    • profile image

      sad science teacher 

      7 months ago

      So so sad to see you torturing that poor creature!

      Very unethical!

    • profile image

      Science teacher 

      11 months ago

      Not happy about the salting of the octopus!!!

    • profile image

      cool 

      14 months ago

      COOL

    • profile image

      yah boy riley 

      15 months ago

      this is great work

    • profile image

      Colette Kussel 

      17 months ago

      As a science teacher, I was horrified when I watched the 11 Fascinating Chemistry Experiments video. Students should, at the least, be wearing goggles and have hair tied back when using chemicals or flames. This video should be taken down and the experiments performed with proper safety precautions.

    • profile image

      Lee Roberts 

      20 months ago

      These are cool, but they should have some expirnments that people can use with simpler and less ingredients.

    • profile image

      Amanda King 

      21 months ago

      20 Mule Team Borax with laundry supplies at your local store is all you need for the borax.

    • profile image

      Gama 

      21 months ago

      i'am going to try these experiments with my kids at home this weekend and if they work well I demonstrate them at school. how cool!!!!

    • profile image

      juan 

      21 months ago

      soooooo cool!!! all of them work an are sooo fun !!!

    • profile image

      book worm 

      2 years ago

      great expirements....do you have any in the junior high school level?

    • profile image

      Geek 

      2 years ago

      Sounds really cool! Really want to try it!

    • profile image

      kdog 

      2 years ago

      great experimets

    • profile image

      The Pros 

      2 years ago

      We are trying to pick out some projects and this is helping. Here we come 1st place!

    • profile image

      cookee nookie 

      2 years ago

      more advanced stuff please

    • profile image

      Cool 

      2 years ago

      Where do you get hydrogen peroxide from

    • profile image

      .................... 

      2 years ago

      really hydrogen peroxide?

    • profile image

      Tiger 

      2 years ago

      cool

    • profile image

      Hey itz me 

      2 years ago

      This didnt really help much because most of the experiment have hydrogen pyroxide which we cannot use in school. Not really much help I’d say.

    • profile image

      hello 

      2 years ago

      This is so cool to do at home

    • profile image

      booya 

      2 years ago

      it's pretty cool but I want something more advance

    • profile image

      me 

      2 years ago

      i like the stuff

    • profile image

      Ghjjgghh 

      2 years ago

      Good

    • profile image

      Ashleyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy 

      2 years ago

      Thank You! This helped.

    • profile image

      thomasooooooo 

      2 years ago

      i need more stuff to see!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      bo 

      2 years ago

      really good

    • profile image

      bo 

      2 years ago

      good

    • profile image

      Jk 

      2 years ago

      I love it!

    • profile image

      storay 

      3 years ago

      I loved all the experiments and i would like to do all of them.

    • profile image

      :V 

      3 years ago

      Thank you for the ideas! I didn't find exactly what I was looking for (in my class, we have to design a lab experiment to test the rate of reaction, and I can't find a chemical reaction I can do), but this is overall an informative post. Have a good day :)

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      3 years ago

      @Naruto

      it's kind of obvious that you're a child, friend

    • profile image

      Naruto 

      3 years ago

      The thing is you need elements in in like titanium and calcium and beryllium oxygen helium and yes im a kid to .

    • profile image

      Erin 

      3 years ago

      Doesn't explain what is happening. Like why is it changing colour etc.

    • profile image

      Joeleen Jennings 

      3 years ago

      The only problem with this is... where is somebody going to find borax just sitting on the shelf? It's not like it is just at your neighborhood Kroger...

    • profile image

      Michael baerga 

      3 years ago

      I mean it's pretty cool but I want something more advance

    • profile image

      bad 

      3 years ago

      cool

    • profile image

      3 years ago

      nice

    • profile image

      Srinithi 

      3 years ago

      Very good and easy

    • profile image

      3 years ago

      It was nice sharing

    • profile image

      adryan 

      3 years ago

      ow you

    • profile image

      bopiz zip 

      3 years ago

      i will sure do this with my pupils. thanks

    • profile image

      hanz 

      3 years ago

      its defenatly good

    • profile image

      CCoker 

      3 years ago

      It should read what is a chemical reaction. Some of the examples given are chemical changes while others are physical changes.

    • profile image

      NAMRATA GUPTA 

      3 years ago

      can some give me easy chemistry experiments

    • profile image

      Tia 

      4 years ago

      But what is happening in each demonstration and why is it happening?

    • profile image

      Turtle 

      4 years ago

      Exciting !

    • profile image

      Katia torres 

      4 years ago

      Good

    • Shankrish86 profile image

      Shankar Ganesh Radhakrishnan 

      5 years ago from Chennai, India

      Cool stuff, indeed! Liked the elephant toothpaste part :) I'm sure gonna try and impress my 3 year old kid with these amazing experiments.

      Wonderful hub. Keep going!

    • toptengamer profile image

      Brandon Hart 

      5 years ago from The Game

      I remember when I was shown the experiment shown in example #1. I was amazed that the balloon filled up on its own.

    • profile image

      Seth 

      5 years ago

      this is a great hub as an early childhood

    • AngeShearer profile image

      Angie Shearer 

      5 years ago from Whangarei, Northland

      This is a great hub as an Early Childhood Teacher I will be using these activities with my older children..thankyou for making science interesting and fun and translating the scientific processes int layman's terms....I found this to be a very useful and interesting read voted up

    • Vvitta profile image

      Kalaichelvi Panchalingam 

      6 years ago from PETALING JAYA

      As a teacher I can say for sure that kids learn best by doing. They remember better and are able to retain concepts when they experience the concepts taught. Great hub. Thanks.

    • profile image

      austin 

      6 years ago

      i love this site

    • profile image

      biochemi 

      6 years ago

      So funny and interesting. Children studying in school level may really enjoy chemistry when such things are taught to them.

    • Patrice M profile image

      Patrice M 

      7 years ago

      Very nice hub! Detailed, acurate and completely kid -friendly. Thanks!

    • profile image

      hyddie lopez 

      7 years ago

      these experiments are off the hook amazing...

    • profile image

      Cali123 

      7 years ago

      Great, concise, explanations and super experiments. Note: I just noticed that in the section titled "What is a chemical change," right before the list of four clues, it should read: "There are four main clues that a CHEMICAL change has occurred."

    • sadie423 profile imageAUTHOR

      sadie423 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      I hope you give them a try to that your kids enjoy them! I know mine did

    • culinary traveler profile image

      culinary traveler 

      8 years ago

      You've got me excited about trying these experiments with my kids! Thanks for sharing!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)