Tag: chemistry activites for kids (Page 1 of 3)

Chemistry Experiments for Kids Using Salt

We are running a bit behind with our Chemistry Week posts, but better late than never.

Table salt, or sodium chloride, is inexpensive and easy to obtain. It can also be used for a number of different chemistry experiments.


This video explains some background about the history and chemistry of sodium chloride.

Credit: NBC Learn and the National Science Foundation (NSF)

1. A Test for Iodide in Table Salt


  • Iodized table salt
  • Non-iodized table salt
  • Hydrogen peroxide (be sure to use 3 %, the kind sold for home use in pharmacies)
  • Corn Starch
  • Water
  • Tablespoon and teaspoon-sized measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Three clear containers, such as glasses or plastic cups
  • Stirring rods or spoons
  • Sharpie marker, tape or other materials to label the containers

1. Label the containers: A) hydrogen peroxide + iodized salt, B) hydrogen-peroxide + non-iodized salt, and C) water + iodized salt.

2. Measure 100 mL (about 1/3 cup) of water and add it to container C. Measure 100 mL (about 1/3 cup) hydrogen peroxide (3%) and add it to container A. Next measure 100 mL (about 1/3 cup) hydrogen peroxide (3%) and add it to container B.

3. Add two Tablespoons of iodized salt to container A and stir. Add two Tablespoons of iodized salt to container C and stir. Add two Tablespoons of non-iodized salt to container B and stir.

4. Observe the containers for a few minutes. Record any changes that occur.

Check our iodine chemistry post to see what iodine looks like in water or hydrogen peroxide. Do you see anything that looks similar?

5. Now add 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch to each container. What happens?


I love this reaction! It is quick and fairly easy to understand. Let me know if you have any questions about procedures or results.


Tom Kuntzleman has another version of this experiment with the chemistry explained. Here is his video:

2. Studying Density: Table Salt versus Salt Sense®

According to the label of the product, Salt Sense® contains real salt, but there is “33% less sodium per teaspoon.” How is this possible?

Prior to starting, answer the following questions:
What do you know about salt and its structure? How might the company achieve its claim of 33% less sodium per teaspoon? Is there 33% less chloride as well?


  • Iodized Table Salt
  • Iodized Salt Sense® (Available in grocery stores and online)
  • Microscope or hand lens
  • Petri dishes or similar shallow, clear containers
  • Measuring beakers or graduated cylinders
  • Kitchen scale that can weigh grams
  • Laboratory notebook or paper
  • Pen for recording results


1. Place a small sample of table salt in one petri dish and a sample of Salt Sense® in a second petri dish. Look at the samples under the microscope.

Draw what you see for each sample. How might the differences you observe change the amount of sodium per teaspoon?

2. Calculate the density of each substance.

Density = mass/volume

where mass is the weight of the salt in grams and volume is the amount of salt in mL.

Tare a measuring beaker on the scale (ask the instructor or read the manual if you don’t know what “tare” means.)

Pour 20 mL of table salt in the beaker. Weigh the table salt in grams and record the weight.

Now tare the second beaker. Add 20 mL of Salt Sense® to the beaker and weigh it. Record the weight in grams.

Calculate the density of each sample. Which sample is less dense? How much less dense is it?

How might you make your results more accurate?


Manufacturer Diamond Crystal’s explanation of Salt Sense®

Other experiments and activities with salt:

Grow your own salt crystals at About.com

Using salt to melt ice at NBC Learn (grades 9-12)

salt-and-pepper(Public domain photograph of salt and pepper by Jon Sullivan)

Easy Exothermic and Endothermic Chemical Reactions for Kids

Usually on Wednesdays we feature Bug of the Week, so today’s chemistry lesson is inspired by insects.

Dr. Thomas Eisner was a very curious man. He was particularly curious about insects, like the beetle shown in this video (has pop-up ad).

When he discovered these particular beetles, Dr. Eisner began to experiment with them because he wanted to know what and how they were squirting. One of the unexpected things he found out was that the temperature of the spray the beetle released was very hot, nearly 100° C. How could that be?

Endothermic and Exothermic Reactions

Sometimes chemical reactions between two or more substances give off or take in energy, often in the form of heat. In exothermic reactions, heat energy is given off during the reaction and the temperature increases. In endothermic reactions heat energy is removed by the reaction (“taken in”) and the temperature of the reactants decreases.

Below are two chemical reactions that use household products. Find out whether they are exothermic or endothermic.

Notes:  These activities are messy fun, so perform them in a sink, tub, or outdoors in an area where wet spills are not a problem. Also, scientists never eat or drink their experiments!

Reaction 1.


  • About 26 g lemonade drink mix* (make sure the primary ingredient is citric acid)
  • Baking soda
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • 1/4 cup dry measuring cup
  • Water (room temperature)
  • Large Styrofoam cup (to help insulate the reaction)
  • Container (glass or cup) to mix the drink mix and water in
  • Thermometer or temperature probe
  • Spoon

* Math alert:  Originally I used Crystal Light pink lemonade mix, which came in 3.68 g packets (see the serving size information for the number of grams per packet). I used 7 packets for about 28 g. Then I switched to an off brand, and the packets were 2.6 g each (10 packets for 26 g). It worked just as well. Also, check the amount of vitamin C information on the labels. The raspberry-flavored lemonade mix contained significantly more citric acid for some reason.


Procedure 1:

  1. Measure 100 mL (approx. 1/3 cup) of room temperature water and pour into in a container.
  2. Add 26 g of drink mix into the water in the container. Stir until completely dissolved.
  3. Use the thermometer or probe to measure the temperature of the solution, taking care not to rest the thermometer or probe on the bottom or side of the cup.
  4. Measure 1/4 cup baking soda into the Styrofoam cup.
  5. In a sink or similar area, quickly add the drink mix solution to the baking soda in the Styrofoam cup.
  6. As the reaction starts to slow, take the temperature again. (You may want to let the children touch the solution and compare to the room temperature water. They will need to wash their hands afterwards.)

reaction 1 citric acid

Did the temperature of the contents of the Styrofoam cup  go up or down?

Reaction 2:


  • 2 teaspoons active yeast
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring teaspoon
  • Water at room temperature
  • Cup or similar container for mixing yeast
  • Large Styrofoam cup
  • Thermometer or temperature probe
  • Hydrogen peroxide (be sure to use 3 %, the kind sold for home use) – held at room temperature
  • Spoon

Procedure 2.

  1. Measure 100 mL of room temperature water (approx. 1/3 cup) and pour into the yeast-mix container.
  2. Mix the 2 teaspoons dry yeast into the water. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Take the temperature of the solution, taking care not to rest the thermometer on the bottom or side of the cup.
  4. Add 100 mL (about 1/3 cup) 3% hydrogen peroxide to the Styrofoam cup.
  5. Take the temperature of the hydrogen peroxide, taking care not to rest the thermometer on the bottom or side of the cup. The two solutions should be roughly the same temperature.
  6. In a sink or similar area, add the yeast solution to the hydrogen peroxide in the Styrofoam cup.
  7. As the reaction starts to slow, take the temperature again. (You may want to let the children touch the solution and compare to the room temperature water. They will need to wash their hands afterwards.)

Did the temperature go down or up?



Which reaction was endothermic? Which reaction was exothermic? Let us know what you find out.



If you are interested in learning more about the beetles, read the first chapter in:

For Love of Insects by Thomas Eisner


For more chemistry activities, check the Table of Contents for Chemistry Week page.


Elements, Atoms, and Molecules

What are elements, atoms and molecules? How do we study them?

Chemistry Vocabulary:

Elements– Chemists have identified substances that can not be broken down further using chemical means. These are called the elements. Examples of elements are oxygen, carbon and gold. Jefferson Lab has a list of the 10 Most abundant elements in the universe.

Atoms- Atoms are the smallest units of elements. They are also what makes up all the matter in the universe.

Molecules– Many elements are found in nature as two or more atoms interacting together. When two or more atoms interact together or bond, then the result is called a molecule.

Atoms from different elements can also form molecules. An example of a molecule of this type is water, which is formed of hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

A friend used to ask me, “Has anyone ever seen an atom?” Recently scientists have developed technology that allows us to do just that. It is called an atomic force microscope/scanning tunneling microscope. They use extremely cold conditions to hold the atoms or molecules still enough to visualize. Want to see what they look like?

A Boy And His Atom: The World’s Smallest Movie

This is a stop motion animated movie created using images from a scanning tunneling microscope. Note: This should really be called a boy and his molecule, because the researchers moved carbon monoxide (CO) molecules to create the images.

Moving Atoms: Making The World’s Smallest Movie

In the video below you can see how researchers made A Boy and His Atom. You can also see how excited the researchers are to be doing this creative project and how it has practical applications. It is well worth watching.


Related activity:

Make An Element Collection

One great way to make chemistry more concrete is to have have experience with the pure form of different elements.


  • A periodic table of the elements (About.com has some to download for free)
  • Box for holding the collection
  • Paper and pen or computer for generating labels
  • Tape or glue (for attaching labels)
  • Small vials for holding samples (optional)
  • Elements

Caution:  Some elements are gases at room temperature, and would be hard to hold in a collection. Some elements, such as mercury, beryllium, and arsenic, are toxic and should not be collected by children.

Elements that you can find at home, hardware supply stores, department stores, rock shops, etc.

  • Carbon:  coal, charcoal
  • Copper:  plumbing supplies
  • Aluminum:  foil, pots and pans
  • Iron:  nails, some magnets
  • Magnesium:  Campfire starters (warning:  highly flammable!)
  • Tin:  new lead-free fishing sinkers
  • Lead:  older fishing sinkers (handle with rubber gloves and wash hands afterwards)
  • Silicon:  computer chips
  • Platinum, gold, silver:  jewelry, small amounts available at bead stores
  • Lithium:  specialized batteries
  • Sulfur:  rock and mineral shops
  • Zinc:  Galvanized nails, electrodes in lemon battery kits (can be toxic if sufficient amounts are swallowed)
  • Tungsten:  Light bulb filaments
  • Neodymium:  Magnets (very powerful, handle with care)
  • Nickel:  Many neodymium magnets are nickel-plated
  • Titanium:  bicycle parts

Always label the items in your collection with the name of the element, and when and where you collected it. That way you won’t forget what it is and you can tell your friends where you found it.

You might also want to include elements in common compounds (not in pure form):

  • Sodium:  Table salt (Sodium Chloride)
  • Iodine:  Iodized table salt
  • Calcium:  Chalk, antacids (Calcium carbonate)
  • Magnesium:  Epsom salts (Magnesium sulfate)

Collecting elements can tie in nicely with a rock and mineral collection. For example, look for rocks with copper, sulfur or iron. Panning for gold is fun, too.

copper-mineralsCopper is found in many minerals including azurite and malachite.

Looking for more information? Try:

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray, with photographs by Nick Mann

To get an idea what the book is like, Theodore Gray has his periodic table of element photographs at http://periodictable.com. To look at each element, click on the photograph.

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers; Reprint edition (April 3, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1579128955
ISBN-13: 978-1579128951


Slide1Check our Chemistry Week Table of  Contents page for links to all our activities.

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