Back to school can be an exciting time for kids and parents. It’s also a time for teachers and parents to reignite an interest in learning. Believe it or not, science can be the spark a child needs to keep them interested and focused on learning. Here’s a fun way to kick off the school year with a back-to-school science experiment using apples! With just a few household materials, you can create an interest in science for your child that can last all year long.
Materials for Back-to-School Science Experiment
- 3% Hydrogen peroxide (you can use 6% from beauty salons to be more dramatic)
- Dawn liquid dish detergent (pick an apple or fruity scent for more fun)
- Food coloring
- Yeast packet
- Warm water
- 1-3 apples
- Knife (adult tasks)
- Tray or baking dish to contain liquid
- 2 measuring cups
- Safety glasses
Directions for Back-to-School Science Experiment
1. Have an adult take the apple and cut off the top portion to allow access to the apple.
2. Have an adult cut out the inside of the apple with a knife. Be sure not to cut any holes in the interior of the apple. A spoon can be an easy way to get a child involved at home by carefully removing the apple insides and using it for a little snack.
3. Have the child put on safety glasses and gloves as they begin the science experiment.
4. Take a measuring cup and place warm water in it. Empty the yeast packet according to the directions on the packet and set aside.
5. In the second measuring cup, have a child pour the 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide and then add a dash of liquid dish soap.
6. Next, add a drop of food coloring to help show the reaction. Gently mix the three ingredients and discuss how there is a reaction after mixing them.
7. Set the apple on a surface that can get messy, such as a large baking dish.
8. Have the child carefully pour the colorful mixture from the second container into the emptied out apple. Wait and watch for a reaction.
9. Now, have the child add the yeast mixture into the apple and see what happens. You can place the lid back on top for more effect, too.
10. Observe what is happening when the two mixtures are added together.
11. Discuss with your child what they think happened in the chemical reaction that created a rapid expansion of foam.
Discovering the Catalyst
As you begin to discuss your back-to-school science experiment, be sure to talk about the yeast and how it acts as a catalyst. A catalyst is a substance that helps to facilitate and/or accelerate a chemical reaction but is not consumed in the process.
The foam created from this apple science experiment is safe to touch. The peroxide (H202) is broken down in the chemical reaction, so there isn’t any left. The reaction leaves behind water (H20) and oxygen (O2) only, so it’s safe to handle. Most children will love to explore with it because it is so soft and puffy! For younger kids, most enjoy continuing to play with the emptied out apples in the foam. The experiment is exothermic, so there is heat that is produced which you can feel from the exterior of the apples. Be sure to allow it to cool off before exploring.
Use this back-to-school science experiment as an opportunity to discuss what a catalyst is with your child. Consider discussing with them how they can use newly learned skills during the school year to spark new discoveries in their lives and help them to find their edge in and out of the science classroom. For more hands-on science experiments, check out Sylvan’s STEM programs!