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Science Experiments for Kids Part 1: KS2 Physics

Science

Science Experiments for Kids

Science experiments can bring science to life for kids. Engaging in science through experiments at home can create important associations in your child’s mind between what they are learning in school and what is around them in their everyday lives. Not only can it be hugely beneficial for their education, but science experiments are also a fun and exciting activity for you to do together.

As key stage 2 science students are asked to ‘work scientifically,’ (to practise practical scientific methods, processes and skills) doing science experiments at home can help improve their overall understanding of the curriculum and help them ultimately achieve better marks in their 11 plus exams.

Read on to discover KS2 physics experiments for you and your kids to enjoy!

1. Electricity: A Potato Battery

Let’s start with a classic electricity experiment! The potato battery is used to teach kids the principles of how a battery and a circuit works.

Materials:

  • 2 potatoes

  • A low voltage LED clock (for a 1-2 volt button-type battery)

  • 2 galvanised nails

  • 2 short pieces of heavy copper wire

  • 3 alligator clips

  • A marker pen

Instructions:

  1. Remove the battery from the clock and note down the side of the battery terminal that was positive (+).

  2. Number each potato and insert a nail into each one.

  3. Place one piece of copper wire into each potato as far as possible from the nail.

  4. Connect the copper wire of the first potato to the positive (+) terminal of the clock’s battery compartment using the alligator clips.

  5. Connect the nail in the second potato to the negative (-) terminal of the battery compartment in the same way.

  6. Finally, connect the nails in the first potato to the copper wire in the second potato with an alligator clip.

  7. Set the clock and play with the circuit! You can disconnect certain parts or introduce different conductors to see the effects. Discuss with your child what they think is happening.

  8. Ask your child if they can draw a pictorial representation of the circuit using the symbols they’ve learnt at school.

How it works:

The potato is an electrochemical cell, where chemical energy is converted to electric energy by electron transfer. The potato acts as a buffer between the zinc ions and the copper ions. However, this is a bit too advanced for KS2 science so use this experiment to focus on the circuit itself and the transfer for electricity!

KS2 Skills Checklist:

  • Constructing a simple series electrical circuit and identifying and naming basic parts.

  • Draw a circuit as a pictorial representation.

  • Identify whether or not the clock will work in a simple series circuit, based on whether or not it is part of a complete loop with the battery.

  • Recognise some common conductors and insulators.

2. Sound: Elastic Band Guitar

This science experiment will show your child how soundwaves are created and allow them to experiment with the volume and pitch of sound!

Materials:

  • Tissue box

  • Long cardboard tube from a roll of foil

  • Acrylic paint and paintbrushes

  • 2 lolly sticks

  • Coloured paper

  • PVA glue

  • Scissors

  • Tape

  • Elastic bands (different sizes and thickness)

Instructions:

  1. Paint the cardboard tube and lolly sticks and let dry.

  2. Cut out a hole at the end of the tissue box for the cardboard tube.

  3. Remove all the plastic from the tissue box and stick a piece of coloured paper on the inside.

  4. Paint the outside of the tissue box and allow it to dry.

  5. Insert the cardboard tube into the hole and secure it with tape.

  6. Glue the two lolly sticks on either end of the big hole in the box (on the shorter ends of the box).

  7. Stretch the elastic bands around the box and it’s time to play the instrument!

  8. Ask your child to experiment with different elastic bands or pluck them with different intensities to see what different sounds they make.

How it works:

As the elastics are plucked their vibrations create sound waves. The thickness and size of each elastic determines how it will vibrate and therefore which sounds it will produce.

KS2 Skills Checklist:

  • Identify how sounds are made as a result of vibration.

  • Identify that vibrations from sound travel through a medium to the ear.

  • Recognise patterns between the pitch of a sound and features of the object that produced it.

  • Find patterns between the volume of a sound and the strength of vibrations that produced it.

3. States of Matter: Ice Cream in A Bag

It’s always fun to do an edible science experiment and you will be surprised how easy this one is. Teach your child how matter changes states – a very important key stage 2 science topic!

Materials:

  • 2 Sealable plastic bags (a small & a large one)

  • A cup of milk (if you want to make chocolate ice cream use chocolate milk)

  • Tablespoon of sugar and vanilla essence

  • Large bag of ice

  • Salt

  • Tea towel

Instructions:

  1. Pour the milk, sugar and vanilla essence into the smaller sealable plastic bag. Make sure the bag is properly sealed.

  2. Fill the larger sealable bag halfway with ice and a good amount of salt.

  3. Place the smaller bag into the larger one and seal it before giving it a big shake.

  4. Make sure the milk stays in contact with the ice.

  5. Put a towel around the bag and roll the ice over the milk.

  6. After about 5 minutes check to see the consistency of the milk. Keep rolling the ice until the milk is an ice cream consistency.

  7. It's ready to eat! While you’re both enjoying the ice cream, ask your child to describe the changing material states of the ice and the milk.

How it works:

The salt lowers the freezing point of the ice below 0 degrees Celsius so that it starts melting. Heat energy is absorbed from the milk for the melting process, which cools the milk down and causes ice crystals to form between the fat molecules creating ice cream!

KS2 Skills Checklist:

  • Identify if a material is a solid, liquid or gas.

  • Explore the effect of temperature on substances.

  • Observe that some materials change state when they are heated or cooled, and measure or research the temperature at which this happens in degrees Celsius (°C).

4. Forces: Vitamin Rocket

This science experiment is a brilliant introduction to Newton’s Law of Motion. It demonstrates how various forces can act on an object causing it to move.

Materials:

  • Effervescent vitamin tablet container

  • Effervescent vitamin tablet

  • Water

Instructions:

  1. Pour water in the tablet container so that it is 1/3 full.

  2. Add the vitamin tablet.

  3. Replace the lid and make sure it is on firmly.

  4. Stand back!

  5. Repeat the experiment adding more or less water or adding a weight to the container and measuring the height the rocket reaches. You can ask your child to write down what they predict will happen.

  6. Ask your child why they think the rocket fell back down to the ground.

How it works:

When the vitamin reacts with water it produces carbon dioxide and as this gas builds up inside the container it creates air pressure which causes it to shoot up in the air. It shoots upwards with a force that is equal and opposite to the downward force applied to it. As the reaction slows down, forces of gravity create a stronger downward force and cause it to then fall to the ground.

KS2 Skills Checklist:

  • Identify the effects of air resistance that acts on an object.

  • Explain that unsupported objects fall towards the Earth because of the force of gravity acting - between the Earth and the falling object.

  • Experience how forces can make an object move, get faster or slow down.

We can help

If you’re looking for more ways to improve your child’s KS2 science knowledge, start your 5-day free trial of Nucleus for success in the classroom, entrance exams and beyond.

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