morning chemistry

This morning we decided to open up one of Abe's birthday gifts--a science kit.  It was so much fun for both boys!  You really don't need to buy any sort of kit to do what we did.  It was a simple lesson about acids, bases, and chemical reactions.  We used citric acid, baking soda, and water along with a couple of plastic cups.  When the two powders mix together in water, they neutralize one another and form the gas carbon dioxide.  Oh, how bubbles delight little ones!  We talked about how we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide--the very same gas formed with the mixture.


For the next part of the experiment we added red cabbage powder.  The cabbage powder is a natural dye.  It works well because it changes the color of the mixture.  If the mixture of citric acid and baking soda is more acidic, the mixture looks more red.  If the mixture of citric acid and baking soda is more basic, it is blue to green.  

Here's what you'll need to do the first experiment:

  • 3 clear plastic cups
  • water
  • citric acid
  • baking soda
  • large tray or baking sheet to contain spills

Fill up two cups about 3/4 full.  Place one small scoop of citric acid in one of the cups with water and mix. Place a small scoop of baking soda in the other cup and mix.  Then in the third (empty) cup, pour some of the citric acid mixture in.  Then add some baking soda mixture in.  Then you will watch the eruption of bubbles.  We repeated the experiment and added red cabbage powder to each cup before blending the citric acid mixture and the baking soda mixture.  

I let both boys mix and add with a medicine dropper to their hearts' content!  Each time the mixture became more acidic, it turned more red.  Each time it became more basic, it turned more blue.  I loved this little chemistry lesson because it was such a visual display of change.  And I loved asking each of them questions: "What do you think would happen if we added more water?"  "Do you think it would matter if the water was cold?"  "Or hot?"  I love asking them questions to help them to think about things and brainstorm ideas.  Then it's fun to experiment and find out what actually happens!  Homeschooling provides so many opportunities for individualized and hands-on learning. Now my older son keeps asking if we can do more science.  Admittedly, the experiment taught me something too!  Enjoy!  xo