Science is all around us. And with a few everyday items that can be found in your kitchen, you can teach students scientific concepts like static electricity, acid-base reactions and oxidation. Below are five items that you can use to easily explore science with your students in afterschool.

1. Vinegar

Recreate a volcanic eruption by making your own vinegar volcano. This simple experiment requires materials you may already have on hand and your students will be awed by the result. You will need a small container, clay to build the volcano, food coloring (optional), liquid dishwashing soap, baking soda and vinegar - the main ingredient.

This experiment creates an acid-base reaction. In this type of reaction, the acid (vinegar) chemically reacts with the base (baking soda) and the two release carbon dioxide gas. This causes the solution to “erupt” and bubble out of the volcano. Check out the video from MEL Science below to see how it’s done.

2. Ice Cubes

Did you know you can lift an ice cube with a string? Using a cup of water, an ice cube, string and salt, students will discover how melting and freezing cause the string to adhere to the ice cube. When the ice is added to the water, the ice melts and the water freezes at the same rate, causing a state of dynamic equilibrium. However, when salt is added to the mix, it disrupts the equilibrium and spurs other processes into action. To learn more, check out this lifting ice cube experiment.

Check out My First Lab Scientist Kit to begin conducting experiments with students

3. Balloons

With a single balloon, you can deliver a simple yet powerful lesson on static electricity! Let students blow up balloons and rub them on their hair. Then have them stick the balloon to the wall or hold it against another balloon. What happens?

Rubbing a balloon against your hair or a piece of fabric gives it a negative charge. This causes it to stick to neutrally charged surfaces, like a wall, by attracting the positive charge to the surface. The same is true for two balloons if only one is negatively charged. Two negatively charged balloons, however, will repel each other.

4. Lemon

Tap into your inner secret agent by making invisible ink. Here’s the secret: Lemon juice oxidizes and turns brown when heated. In addition to a lemon, you will need the following household materials to complete the activity:

  • Water
  • Spoon
  • Bowl
  • Cotton swab
  • White paper
  • Lamp or other light bulb

Lemon juice contains carbon compounds that are basically colorless at room temperature. But when exposed to heat, these compounds are broken down and they release the carbon. If the carbon comes in contact with the air, oxidation occurs, and the liquid (lemon juice) turns light or dark brown.

5. Soda Can

Did you know that air pressure can crush a soda can? In this experiment, your students will observe how air pressure outside the can causes it to implode in order to balance the internal pressure. You will need empty soda cans, a stove or hot plate, cooking tongs, gloves, a bowl and cold water to conduct the experiment. Once finished, students will better understand the strength and power of the air pressure around us. See the full air pressure can crusher experiment to learn more.

There are unlimited opportunities to learn, discover and explore science. And with these 5 household items, you can teach complex scientific concepts in a fun and simple way. For help carrying out these activities, check out How to Prepare for Science Projects