While attending a child's birthday party, I was very impressed by one activity organized by the host. It was a ‘Magic Show,' but with a difference. All the guests (children) were asked to come prepared with a Magic Trick and demonstrate in the party.
The host had given the hint to the parents, that children could demonstrate the simple Science Experiments that look like magic. The event was a great hit, as all the children remembered the experience for a long time.
The Science experiments conducted in the disguise of magic tricks also increased the confidence of the young lot, as the magician is always considered as an all knowing, powerful person who has the ability to do any impossible task in the world.
Benefits of Conducting Experiments for a child
Children have a natural tendency to be curious. They learn best by ‘hands on' experience. Science experiments teach a number of things about the world around them. And if fun is added to any learning, it attracts them even more.
Conducting an experiment increases the confidence of the child. It also inculcates a scientific bend of mind.
Let's look at some simple experiments that can be easily carried out at home. (Please be cautious of not enforcing the principle behind the experiments on the child. The conclusions given below are only for parents to know.)
1. What Floats, What Sinks
This is a very simple experiment that a child as young as 1.5 years too can easily perform and observe. Provide a few objects like a comb, some leaves, marbles, spoons, paper plate, straws, pen cap, bottle caps, flowers, etc. and a tub/bucket half filled with water to your young one and let him play, experiment and conclude about what things float and what things sink. (At this point, special care of mobile phones and watches should be taken or else, you will see them in water ;)).
(Conclusion: Objects that are less dense than water floats; objects denser than water sinks in it.)
2. Colour Changing Flowers
Give some white flowers (rose or carnation) to the child. Ask him to put it in water in a clear transparent vase (observation becomes easy in a transparent vase). Help him to add a food colour, red or yellow to the water. Ask the child to observe the flower changing colour. In nearly an hour or two, the colour added in water starts showing up in the flower. If the flower is left overnight, it shows a remarkable change in colour.
(Conclusion: The stem of the plant absorbs water and the colour travels up to the flower along with the other nutrients.)
3. Mix Oil and Water - if you can
Take an empty plastic bottle. Ask the child to pour some water into it; and then to pour some oil over it (leave some empty space at the top, for efficient mixing). Ask him to close the bottle cap and give the bottle a vigorous shake. Let the bottle stand at one place for some time. In some time, the water and oil will separate and settle at their own places. Oil will float and form a layer at the top of the water.
(Conclusion: Oil and water are immiscible liquids. Oil floats on water as it is less dense than water.)
4. Light up the Bulb
We've all heard about static electricity and seen it travel in the skies. Perform this experiment in a dark room. Take a plastic ruler/comb. Ask the child to rub it with his dry hair (hair should not be oily) nearly 20 times and put it on the metal end of a small electric bulb. The filament of the bulb lights up for a moment.
(Conclusion: Rubbing the plastic ruler/comb aligns the electrons in it, in one direction and allows the flow of current. This short flow of current causes the bulb to glow.)
There is no harm in repeating the same experiments a number of times, over the years. It will only make the concept clearer to the child.