The First Experiment
I started with my grandson when he was barely three. I remember saying, “Do you want to try… a… science experiment?” He got excited and nodded.
Of course, at that point, I could have said, “Do you want to… do… my… income taxes?” and he would have gotten excited anyway. The words didn’t mean anything yet.
But they soon would. They would mean fun.
We went to the bathroom and he stood on his stool so he could reach the sink. He probably thought we were going to brush his teeth but I had our ingredients ready: several small paper cups along with a spoon, bottle of vinegar, and a box of baking soda.
I wanted our first experiment to be memorable!
I told him science was learning about how things work in our world. Experiments are what we do to see what happens.
I poured some vinegar into one cup and water in the other. I said, “This is vinegar and it smells stinky. It looks like water but it’s not. Can you say vinegar?”
Kids like learning new words (even though, at first, he said it was vin-grr) so don’t be afraid to use the real names for things.
He smelled both cups and made a face. We both laughed and I put a spoonful of baking soda in two other cups.
“This is sodium bicarbonate but we call it… baking soda.”
I think it’s the way I say these things that’s half the fun. I say the chemical name in an exaggerated and formal way and the common name in a funny way. It always made him laugh.
Now I explained that if you put water on the powder, you’d have wet powder. We did just that and nothing happened. But when you put vinegar on baking soda, you get something different.
I gave him both cups over the sink and said, “Go ahead and try it. Pour the vinegar into the baking soda.”
You should have heard him shriek when the mixture suddenly foamed up and out of the cup!
He was hooked.
From then on, that was the first thing he said when he came to visit, “Can we do a ‘sparement?”
And we always did.
We did that and many, many different experiments that I’ll detail here as we go along. Be sure to bookmark this site so you can come back later.