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Science at Home

Science and curiosity from home!

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Science Activities to Explore and Discover at home!


We know you love coming to our Planetarium shows and learning more about our universe now you can see them from home!

Explore Virtual Planetarium

Sun, Moon, and Stars

In this show, we’ll observe the sun’s daily path across the sky, classify bright and faint stars, note shapes of common constellations, and learn more about the universe around us! This show is just shy of 30 minutes long and is perfect for kids ranging from 5-8 years old. Grab a snack, find a comfy spot to sit in, and enjoy this new Virtual Planetarium experience! We’ll be back next week with another Virtual Planetarium Show about the upcoming Eclipse in 2024. Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it!

Exploring Exoplanets

It’s time to learn more about a hot topic that fascinates kids and adults alike: EXOPLANETS! So far, we’ve discovered over 4,000 exoplanets. In today’s Virtual Planetarium show, “Exploring Exoplanets,” we’ll be exploring some of them. We’ll learn more about the wide range of worlds we’ve found in our universe; From giant planets, to tiny planets, to planets that are being fried, to planets going around double stars, and, maybe, even an Earth-size planet in the Goldilocks zone.

Eclipse 2024

This week’s virtual planetarium show celebrates the 4-year mark of the upcoming 2024 total solar eclipse! Listen along to learn how to plan and prepare to watch the eclipse in your own backyard! We’ll tell you when and where you can see it, and give you tips on how to find the best spot for eclipse viewing in 2024.

The Sky This Week (April 9-15)

Welcome to “The Sky This Week,” our virtual adaptation of the Planetarium’s much-loved show, “The Sky Tonight.” Watch and listen as our Planetarium Director, Steve Fentress, gives us a tour of what the night sky looks like in Rochester this week. You may be surprised by what you learn, and inspired to get out and try your hand at star-gazing at home!

How the Strasenburgh Planetarium Came to Be

Ever wondered when the Strasenburgh Planetarium first opened? Or How the technology used for projecting star shows has changed overtime? Today’s Virtual Planetarium Show will answer these questions and more as we share the history of our much-loved Planetarium.

The Sky This Week (April 16-23)

Welcome back to “The Sky This Week,” our virtual adaptation of the Planetarium’s much-loved show, “The Sky Tonight.” Watch and listen as our Planetarium Director, Steve Fentress, gives us a tour of what the night sky looks like in Rochester this week. You may be surprised by what you learn, and inspired to get out and try your hand at star-gazing at home!

Venus – Evening Star, Morning Star

That almost unbelievably bright “evening star” in our western sky is the planet Venus. By June, it will reappear as a “morning star.” Did you know that appearances of Venus in the sky repeat in an 8-year cycle? Learn about all of this and more in this new Virtual Planetarium video! Curl up with a snack and enjoy this outer-space view of the peculiar orbit of our neighboring planet.

The Sky This Week (April 23-30)

Are you ready to explore the night sky? Join our Planetarium Director Steve and take a look at what unique things you can watch out for while you’re stargazing this week. 

All 88 Constellations

Today, we’re learning about all of the constellations in the sky- and we aren’t exaggerating! There are exactly 88 professionally-recognized constellations in our night sky, and Steve, our Planetarium Director, is going to give you a brief look at all of them. Which one is your favorite?

The Sky This Week (April 30-6)

We’re back with another Virtual Planetarium show to help you prep for any stargazing plans you have this week! Explore “The Sky This Week” with our Planetarium Director, Steve, and discover all of the beauty and mystery our night sky holds for us.

Jupiter Miniature Solar System

It’s time to take a tour of Jupiter and its moons! There’s a lot happening on this gas giant, and some may even consider the planet and its moons as a mini-solar system. For today’s Virtual Planetarium show, Steve, our Planetarium Director, will guide us through all of the unique features of the planet. From giant storms to volcanoes, to ice and hidden water, there is so much to discover.

The Sky This Week (May 7-14)

Who’s ready for some stargazing? Explore “The Sky This Week” with our Planetarium Director, Steve, to learn what constellations, star clusters, and planets you can see in the night sky.

A Collection of Rocket Launches

If you’re a fan of rockets, we have something special in store for you! For today’s Virtual Planetarium show, our Planetarium Director, Steve, curated a collection of film and video clips of rockets from the 1940s through 2020 to see just how much rockets have evolved over time. Do you have a favorite model?

The Sky This Week (May 14-21)

It’s time to learn and discover “The Sky This Week” with our Planetarium Director, Steve! Follow along so you can see all of the things you should look out for while stargazing this week.

Preview of Falcon 9-Dragon launch

We’re switching it up this week! Instead of our usual look into the stars, our Planetarium Director, Steve, is sharing an interview with space journalist Rod Pyle about Space X’s Falcon 9-Dragon launch, which is set to happen on May 27. Pyle has written 15 books about the past, present, and future of space flight and will share his unique insights about this upcoming launch.

The Sky This Week (May 21-28)

Whether you’re new to stargazing or an expert in astrophysics, “The Sky This Week” is the perfect way to stay up-to-date with what’s in our night sky. Join our Planetarium Director, Steve, to get a tour of the beautiful, dark blue sky so you can discover what stars, planets, and other celestial bodies are in view this week!

Stars as an Astronaut Sees Them

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to look at the universe from a different perspective? Would you see the same stars and planets from Earth’s orbit, as you would from the Moon, or even from a ship traveling to Mars? Today, we’re comparing and contrasting these views with our Planetarium Director, Steve, using accurate visualization software during our new Virtual Planetarium Show.

The Sky This Week (May 28 – June 3)

There have been some exciting things in our night sky during the month of May, and there’s even more to look for in this week’s edition of The Sky This Week. Join our Planetarium Director, Steve, to get a tour of the beautiful, dark blue sky so you can discover what stars, planets, and other celestial bodies are in view this week!

A Scrapbook of Inspiration: The Stars are for Everyone

When our community looks up at the sky, we all see the same stars. This week, our Virtual Planetarium show will serve as “A Scrapbook of Inspiration.” This unique show highlights clips and quotes which remind us that the stars are still there, even during the worst of times, and that they belong to everyone.

The Sky This Week (June 4 – June 10)

Welcome back to The Sky This Week! As we transition from May to June, what changes will we see in our sky? Will there be any newly emerging constellations or planets to look out for? Our Planetarium Director, Steve, will give you a tour of the stars and highlight all the celestial bodies you can see at night.

See all Virtual Planetarium Shows


Science Experiments

We wanted our community to get their hands-on science-fix in, so we’re providing you with instructions for science experiments that you can do at home! Check out the fun experiments below, we’ll be adding more soon!

Science At home

Watch as our scientists demonstrate some of the many experiments you can do at home! If you see something you’d like to try, check out our experiment list for directions.

Science At home Videos

Vitamin C Challenge

It’s important to make sure you’re getting your daily dose of vitamins year-round. Lots of people turn to orange juice for a source of vitamin C, but what other drinks have vitamin C in it? What drink in your fridge has the most vitamin C? Our scientists will show you how to figure it out using vitamin C tablets and an iodine tincture.

Nebula Spin Art

It’s time to bust out that salad spinner you have tucked away in the cupboards and make some nebula spin art! Discover what happens when you pour paint on a spinning surface, and the reasons behind it. All you need to get started is some paper, paint, a salad spinner, and some creativity.

Clean Mud

What do you get when you mix soap, water, and toilet paper? The cleanest mud you’ll ever see! This fun activity will give you all of the fun of playing outside in the mud without any of the mess– you may even be cleaner after you’re done playing! Watch this demonstration to learn how to make your own clean mud at home.

Make a Moss Terrarium

Today, we’re making a moss terrarium with Rose, one of our Forest School instructors at the Cumming Nature Center! Explore your backyard, find unique things to put in your terrarium, and learn more about local the environment.

Salamander Searching

Children adventure into the habitat and special lives of secretive salamanders by gently searching under logs, stones, and alongside creeks, for evidence of different species of salamanders. Further discoveries can be made through additional activities that deepen one’s knowledge, empathy, and wonder about these fantastic animals.

RMSC Space Explorer Name Generator

If you were traveling to a galaxy far, far away, you would need a space explorer name, right? Well, we made this Space Explorer name generator to help you figure it out! So, who are you really? Follow the instructions to create your name and share it with us on social media by tagging @rocrmsc.

Make Your Own Fossils

We have tons of cool fossils at the museum, but did you know you can make your own fossils at home? They won’t be authentic, but they’re still fun to make and share with your friends and family! Get on some play clothes, gather some supplies, and follow along with this video to learn how to make some fossils. When you’re done, take some photos and share with us on social media by tagging @rocrmsc.

DIY Astronaut Helmet

It’s time to exercise your imagination with a fun DIY project with our guest-star Dan Schneiderman, co-chair of Maker Faire Rochester and a long-time supporter of RMSC. Dan loves to recycle and repurpose objects into cool DIY projects. Today, he’s showing us a simple way to DIY an astronaut helmet with things you have at home! If you follow along and make your own helmet, share them with us by tagging @rocrmsc on social media. We’d love to see your unique creations!

Special thanks to Dan Schneiderman for making this video for us! Give him and Maker Faire Rochester a follow on social media:

Facebook: Maker Faire Rochester

Twitter: @makerfaireroc & @hiteak

Instagram: @makerfaireroc & @dan.schneidy

Eclipse Glasses Overview

The 2024 total solar eclipse is years away, but it’s never too early to start preparing! Join our guest-star Dan Schneiderman, co-chair of Maker Faire Rochester and a long-time supporter of RMSC, as he explains all you need to know about eclipse glasses- and why you need them!

Special thanks to Dan Schneiderman for making this video for us! Give him and Maker Faire Rochester a follow on social media:

Facebook: MakerFaireRochester

Twitter: @makerfaireroc & @hiteak

Instagram: @makerfaireroc & @dan.schneidy

Exploring Density with a Density Tower

Everything in the universe is made up of matter, and every type of matter has its own density. Density refers to how tightly molecules in a substance are packed together – that is, how much space there is between molecules. Substances with a high density tend to be heavier, while substances with a low density tend to be lighter. Today we will find out what happens when you mix liquids of different densities together!

Candy Molecules

Molecules are SUPER tiny, and it can be hard to visualize what they look like. Dr. U, one of our scientists, is going to show you a fun and easy way to make your own molecular models so you can better visualize these small but important structures. The best part? We’ll be making these models out of candy so you can learn more about molecular structures and enjoy a sweet snack once you’re finished!

An Egg-sellent Experiment

Eggs  Birds, reptiles, and amphibians aren’t born the same way other animals are; they hatch from an egg. Have you wondered what happens behind that hard shell? Today, we’re sharing a home experiment that will help you learn a little more about how an egg works, and even a little about your own body!

To see the full instructions for this experiment, check out our science experiment drop-down menu above and look for “An Egg-sellent Experiment.” 

Let’s Extract DNA From Strawberries!

You don’t need a fancy machine to see what DNA looks like! Today, our guest scientist, Dr. Jillian Ramos, is going to show you how to extract DNA from Strawberries with just a few simple ingredients. If you try it out at home, take photos and share it with us on social media by tagging @rocrmsc! Dr. Jillian Ramos recently received her PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Rochester and is passionate about sparking a love and curiosity for science in young minds. She’ll be sharing a bunch of fun science activities for kids and teens on our YouTube channel. 

Baking Banana Bread

You usually aren’t supposed to eat your science experiments, but baking science is the delicious exception to the rule! Elizabeth, the Registrar at the RMSC, is going to teach you to make some banana bread, and show you the science that makes this yummy treat possible!

Let’s talk about viruses

Dr. Jillian Ramos is back again this week to teach you about cells! In today’s video, we’ll compare the size and genome of human cells, bacterial cells, and viral cells, and discuss how viruses infect human cells!

See all our At Home Science videos

Science Storytime

Join us for a science storytime on Tuesdays at 3pm, starting on March 24. Each book we read will have an accompanying activity or meet and greet with one of our Inquiry Room animals as a guest-star.

See Storytime Videos

Stellaluna – Janel Cannon

This story is about a young fruit bat, named Stellaluna, who gets separated from her mom and finds her way to a nest of birds. Eventually, she makes it home to her family after learning many new things, and meeting some new friends! Make sure to stick around after the story to meet Arissa, our corn snake who lives in our Inquiry Room. Subscribe today for more storytimes, science demos, and planetarium shows!

Beaver Gets Lost – Ariane Chottin

For today’s Science Storytime, Education Director, Allison Shultes, reads Beaver Gets Lost by Ariane Chottin. After the story she dives into the world of Beavers, exploring their interesting facts about their habitat and some incredible adaptations that make these animals the engineers of the animal kingdom. 

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig – Eugene Trivizas

Tune in for Science Storytime with Education Director, Allison Shultes, as she reads The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas. Following this fun take on a classic story, we’ll share a fun engineering challenge you can try at home!

The Moon Book – Gail Gibbons

For this week’s Science Storytime, we’re learning more about the moon! Listen along as we read “The Moon Book,” by Gail Gibbons, to learn more about Earth’s only natural satellite and discover how we’ve observed and explored it over the years. After we finish reading, we have a fun, tasty activity where you’ll learn more about moon phases using everyone’s favorite cookie: Oreos!

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site

Who doesn’t love a good nap, even construction sites need them from time to time! We’re reading “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site,” by Sherri Duskey Rinkerwill, and making some simple machines during our Science Storytime this week. Come read with us! Download the Simple Machines Scavenger Hunt. 

Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp

Join Allison, RMSC’s Director of Education, as she reads “Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp,” written by Carol Diggory Shields. We’ll learn what dinosaurs do in their spare time, and celebrate after the story with a fun dino-dance-party. Break out your dancing shoes, grab some instruments, and get ready to have a dino-blast!

Rainbow Fish to the Rescue

Everyone deserves a friend, don’t you think? Today, we’re reading Rainbow Fish to the Rescue, by Marcus Pfister. In this new adventure, Rainbow Fish has to decide between losing his friends or sticking up for a fish who doesn’t fit in. After the story, we’ll show you a cool way to explore the concept of iridescence so you can make things shine just like rainbow fish!

Raindrop, Plop!

We’ve been getting a lot of rain lately, but dreary-gray days don’t have to stop your fun! Today, we’re reading “Raindrop Plop” by Wendy Cheyette Lewison so we can explore the many ways you can enjoy yourself on a rainy day. After the story, our Education Director, Allison, will show you how to make your own shaving cream rain cloud.

The Very Quiet Cricket

Today, we’re reading The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle. After a cricket loses his song, he sets off to find his voice. He meets many new animals who make their own strange noises, but it’s not until he meets a fellow cricket that he learns the secret behind his “chirp.” Stick around after the story to explore the science behind a crickets “chirp.”

The Erie Canal

For this week’s Science Storytime, we’re reading The Erie Canal by Peter Spier, a visual adaptation of the popular “Erie Canal” song you may have learned in school! Read along with us to discover the history of the Erie Canal through fun, vivid illustrations. Don’t forget to stick around after the story! We’ll be learning more about buoyancy by making our own aluminum foil boats!

The Legend of the Indian PaintBrush

For today’s Science Storytime, Angie, our Environmental Education Coordinator at Cumming Nature Center, will read “The Legend of the Indian PaintBrush” by Tomie dePaola. Follow along and listen to a retelling of an old Texas legend of how the beautiful Indian Paintbrush flower came into existence. After we read the story, Rose, one of our Forest School Instructors at the Nature Center, will show you how to make “Earth paint” from rocks!

Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep!

For today’s Science Storytime, we’re channeling our wild sides! We’re reading “Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep!” by Maureen Wright, to learn more about hibernation and the other adaptations bears have to survive in the wild. Allison, our Director of Education, will also show you how to make your own bear paws and a den!

See all Science Storytime Sessions

Animal Meet & Greets

Hang out with some of the animals “on staff” in our inquiry room, and learn more about their special features and adaptations!

See Animal Meet & Greets

Pierre the Mali Uromastyx Lizard

Welcome to our Inquiry Room Animal Meet & Greet! Today, we’re introducing you to Pierre, our Mali Uromastyx lizard. He’s a high-energy little guy who loves to meet new friends. We’re going to teach you more about his native habitat, the foot he eats, and why he HATES water!

Sophie the African Fat-Tailed Gecko

Just because they’re cold-blooded doesn’t mean they don’t love meeting new friends! In this Animal Meet & Greet, we’re introducing you to Sophie the Flat-Tailed African Gecko. Watch and learn some fun facts about what makes Sophie unique!

Portus the Tortoise

Portus the Tortoise is here to say “shell-o” to you all during today’s Animal Meet & Greet! Watch to learn more about tortoises, their habitats, and their cool adaptations!


Lots of people see their many legs and antennae and immediately run away, but arthropods can be just as friendly as our furry house pets if you take the time to get to know them. Our President and CEO, Hillary, wants to show you that there’s no reason to fear these little creatures by introducing you to one of our millipedes!

Get Wild with the Cumming Nature Center

There’s a mini-nature center in everyone’s backyard! Join our staff at the Cumming Nature Center as they show you how to explore and learn more about the ecosystem you live in.

See Get Wild with CNC Videos

Native American Maple Sugaring Station at Cumming Nature Center

Learn how the Haudenosaunee first collected and used maple syrup with Cumming Nature Center. This video shows the Native American station at CNC’s annual Maple Sugaring Weekends.

Maple Tapping Station at Cumming Nature Center

Explore the process of maple sugaring at Cumming Nature Center. This video will give you an inside view of the tapping station at CNC’s annual Maple Sugaring Weekends.

The Story of Manabozho: Maple Sugaring at Cumming Nature Center

Hear a piece of maple syrup lore with Cumming Nature Center. The story of Manabozho comes from the book Keepers of the Earth by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac.

How to Make a Nature Mobile

Get outside and explore with this fun and simple craft from a Cumming Nature Center Forest School instructor! Rose will teach you how to make a nature mobile using found objects from your yard, local park, or woods.

What in the Wild is… Skunk Cabbage?

Skunk cabbage is everywhere this time of year! Learn some amazing facts about spring’s favorite smelly plant from CNC Director, Nathan Hayes!

Maple Sap Science

Learn about the amazing science of sap with the Cumming Nature Center Staff!

Pioneer Sugaring Practices

Explore how pioneers made and used maple syrup/sugar with the Cumming Nature Center!

Make a Moss Terrarium

Today, we’re making a moss terrarium with Rose, one of our Forest School instructors at the Cumming Nature Center! Explore your backyard, find unique things to put in your terrarium, and learn more about local the environment.

DIY Insect Hotel

It’s International Biodiversity Day, so we wanted to share a simple way you can help increase the biodiversity in your own backyard. Follow along with Angie, our Environmental Education Coordinator at the Cumming Nature Center, to learn how to make your own “insect hotel” to attract some helpful insects to your garden.

See all of our Get Wild with Cumming Nature Center videos.

Virtual Tours

Enjoy some of our museum exhibits from home with RMSC Virtual Tours! While we’re closed, we’ll share a few videos that give you a special look at different elements of our exhibits.

Virtual Tour: 3D Printing

Ever wondered how 3D printers work? Or what types of objects and materials we can make with them? Today, Travis Hughes, one of our Floor Supervisors, is giving you a quick tour of our 3D printing exhibit and answering some commonly asked questions. 

Live Science: Online!

While they’re normally enjoyed at the Museum, we’re bringing some Live Science demos to your house to enjoy while you’re stuck indoors! We’ll be posting new videos throughout the coming weeks.

Check Out Our Videos

Giant Bubble Monster

What happens when you add super-cold liquid nitrogen to hot soapy water? You get a bubble monster! The hot water causes the -320° F (that’s negative 320 degrees!) liquid nitrogen to rapidly become a gas. The gas particles expand really fast and mix with the soapy water to make bubbles. LOTS of bubbles!

The Thermite Reaction

In this experiment, rust, or iron oxide, reacts with aluminum to produce iron and aluminum oxide. The reaction needs a little bit of energy to get started but once it starts it is very exothermic, meaning it releases heat energy. It releases so much energy that the temperature jumps to over 3,000 degrees F in seconds! That is hot enough to quickly melt the iron that is formed in the reaction. Thermite reactions were used to weld railroad ties together.

Nitrogen Depth Charge

First, our mandatory disclaimer – do not try an experiment like this at home!! Okay, not let’s get into it.

An explosion is something getting really big, really fast. The boiling point of liquid nitrogen is -320 degree F. When we pour liquid nitrogen into the bottle it immediately starts to boil, changing from a liquid to a gas as the nitrogen molecules gain energy and spread out. A capped bottle is a closed system, so the gas can only expand so far before the pressure is too great and the bottle explodes because the gas inside needs to take up more space. Throwing the bottle in water before it explodes helps heat the nitrogen faster and makes the explosion more visual.

Be sure to turn down the volume a bit on this one, it can be loud!

Mastodon Toothpaste

What happens when you add potassium iodide to hydrogen peroxide, or H2O2? Mastodon Toothpaste! 

Adding potassium iodide to hydrogen peroxide causes the peroxide to quickly break down into water and oxygen gas. The reaction gives off heat adding even more energy to the quickly moving molecules of oxygen gas and boiling water. Adding a little liquid soap to the reaction creates soap bubbles of trapped oxygen that explode upwards from the force of the fast-moving gases. 

Air Cannon

Today, we’re making an air cannon! This activity demonstrates the fact that air occupies space. As the plastic wrap is pushed into the interior of the bottle, the space inside the bottle gets smaller, forcing some of the air out of the hole. The smaller the hole, the faster the air comes out of the bottle, and the more force your air cannon will have! Follow along with the video and check out our website for detailed instructions to help you build your own air cannon!

Molecules On The Move

The attraction of water molecules to one another is known as surface tension. Today, we’re demonstrating how dish soap breaks that surface tension in water so it can squeeze into smaller cracks and behind the grease and grime on your dishes; and get those germs off of your hands! All you need to get started is a pie dish, water, pepper and your go-to dish soap.

Hydrogen Balloon

If you’ve ever heard of something called the Hindenburg, you may already know what we have in store for you today! A hydrogen balloon floats because it is less dense than air, like helium. But, unlike helium, hydrogen gas is highly flammable. Watch what happens when we set a hydrogen-filled balloon on fire, and learn about what happens when hydrogen and oxygen gases react with each other!

Pringles Rocket

Did you know you can turn a normal Pringles can into a rocket? Watch as we fill a potato chip can with hydrogen gas and ignite it from a small hole at the top of the can. As it burns and the hydrogen gas mixes with oxygen, the two react and release energy by launching the can several feet into the air.


A combustion reaction, like the ones that power car and rocket engines, require fuel, oxygen and some kind energy to start the reaction. The reaction releases more energy than is used to start it, and we can use that energy to power other things, like move the wheels of a car. By mixing clean-burning alcohol fuel with oxygen inside a reusable bottle, our scientists can demonstrate what it’s like mixing fuel and oxygen inside the cylinder of an engine, and show how much energy can be released during one of these reactions!

Exploring Electricity with Tesla Coils

Our Tesla coils in Electricity Theater can handle a LOT of power, and you’d be surprised at what a mini-Tesla-coil can do! For today’s Live Science demo, we’re exploring electricity with a handheld Tesla coil.

Liquid Nitrogen! 

Our scientists are showing you the many wonders of liquid nitrogen today! Watch and observe just how COLD liquid nitrogen is. From boiling at room temperature to freezing the air around its container, you may be surprised by the chilling power this liquified-element has!

Singing Rods

Let’s make music with some metal rods! Instead of using them as mallets, our scientists are going to make them “sing.”

We hear sound when our ears pick up pulses of air, and these pulses of air are created by movement, like the vibrating string of a violin. Using a little bit of friction to make a metal rod vibrate causes it to make noise that sounds like someone singing. The shorter the rod, the higher the pitch of the sound.

Plastic Bag Experiment

Don’t try this one at home everyone!! Today, our scientists are demonstrating some cool science with an unlikely tool: a milk jug! Milk jugs are made of a polymer called High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE). When you heat up the plastic, the HDPE polymer chains become less stiff, kind of like when you boil spaghetti. Blowing air into the jug stretches out the loosened polymer chains, transforming the jug into a slightly different type of plastic, Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE).

Bed of Nails

Today, we’re exploring pressure, force, and surface area in a fun experiment you can do at home (with some adult supervision of course)! Pressure is equivalent to force divided by area. In both trials, our scientist applied the same amount of pressure, the only difference was the surface area. In the first trial, when we used one nail, the surface area was very small, which causes the pressure to be large, popping the balloon. In the second trial, the surface area is greater and causes the pressure to decrease, which keeps the balloon intact.

7 Days of Spooky Science

Happy Halloween! We’re celebrating this year by sharing 7 days of Spooky Science activities you can do at home. We’ll be updating this page with a new spooky-themed craft or experiment every day leading up to October 31, so make sure to check back every day!

Day One: Halloween Owl Decorations

You will need:

  • 2 pine cones
  • 2 acorn cups
  • 2 leaves
  • Hot glue
  • Googly eyes
  • Orange craft foam
  • Small circle or square of heavy cardstock


  1. Cut your circle or square of card to be roughly the same size as the flat end of your pine cone.
  2. Cut a beak and two feet out of the orange craft foam.
  3. Glue the orange feet to the flat base of the pine cone.
  4. Glue the base of the pine cone to the card, making sure that it will stand upright when dry.
  5. Glue 1 googly eye inside each acorn cup, and then glue the acorn cups near the top of the pine cone.
  6. Glue the two leaves on either side of the cone to make wings for your owl.
  7. Finally, glue on the beak. Your owl is now complete.

Day Two: Halloween Lava Lamp

You Will Need:

  • A clear glass or plastic container (an old water bottle works well)
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • Orange food coloring
  • 1 1/2 cup light vegetable oil
  • Alka Seltzer tablets, broken into quarters or thirds


  1. Add the water to the container. Drop 5-7 drops of food coloring in and swish or stir to mix.
  2. Slowly add the vegetable oil to the container and wait a bit for the oil and water to fully separate.
  3. Add small pieces of Alka Seltzer and watch your lava lamp come to life!
  4. As the bubbles die down, keep adding tablet pieces to keep up the effect.

What Happened?

A lava lamp works because of two different scientific principles, density and polarity. 

Density is the measurement of how compact a substance is, or how much of it fits in a certain amount of space. If you measure an equal volume of oil and water, you’ll find that the water is heavier than the same amount of oil. This is because water molecules are packed more tightly. Because water is more dense than oil, it will sink to the bottom when the two are put in the same container. 

Polarity prevents the oil and water from mixing together. Water molecules are “polar” because they have a lopsided electrical charge that attracts other atoms. The end of the molecule with the two hydrogen atoms is positively charged. The other end, with the oxygen, is negatively charged. Just like in a magnet, where north poles are attracted to south poles (“opposites attract”), the positive end of the water molecule will connect with the negative end of other molecules.

Oil molecules, however, are non-polar— they don’t have a positive or negative charge, so they are not attracted to the water molecules at all. This is why oil and water don’t mix!

Real lava lamps use a polar and non-polar liquid just like our homemade one did. In a real one, however, the densities of the liquids are much closer together than vegetable oil and water.

The denser liquid sinks to the bottom, but the lava lamp light heats it up until it expands and becomes less dense, causing it to rise upward. As it gets farther from the light, it cools down, becoming more dense again until it sinks; then the cycle starts all over.

Instead of using a light, in our homemade lava lamp we used alka-seltzer to power the lamp.

The alka-seltzer reacts with the water to produce carbon dioxide gas bubbles. These stick to the water droplets. The water/gas combo is less dense than the oil, so they rise to the top of the flask.

At the top, the gas bubbles pop and escape into the air, allowing the dense water to sink back to the bottom again.

Lava lamps powered by heat are trickier to make and can use more hazardous materials. You can experiment fairly safely with things like rubbing alcohol and mineral oil or lamp oil. See if you can make a lamp powered by heat!

Credit: Home Science Tools

Day Three: Creepy, Crawly Spider Web Spin-Art

You will need:

  • Black construction paper
  • Scissors
  • White washable paint
  • Salad spinner
  • Squeeze bottle
  • 3-4 black pompoms
  • Googly eyes
  • 4-5 pipe cleaners
  • Hot glue


  1. Cut out black circles from your construction paper roughly the size of the salad spinner.
  2. Fill your squeeze bottle with white paint, place one of your black circles in the salad spinner, and squeeze some linear designs onto the black paper (be careful not to use too much paint).
  3. Once you’re satisfied with your design, close the salad spinner and SPIN!
  4. After you’ve thoroughly spun your spinner, open the container to reveal your art. Set them aside and wait for the paint to dry. 
  5. While you wait for the paint to dry, you can prepare your creepy, crawly spiders! 
  6. Cut your pipe cleaners into small pieces, making sure to have 8 pieces per spider you want to make.
  7. Glue 8 pipe cleaner pieces to each pompom to create the body of your spider. Set aside for a few minutes to dry.
  8. Once dry, turn over the pompom and bend the pipe cleaner to form the spider’s long legs.
  9. Finish up your spider by hot-gluing two googly eyes to your pompoms.
  10. Lastly, once all the paint and hot glue are dry, place your spiders on their webs!

Day Four: Autumn Leaf Chromatography


  • Glasses or jars (one for each leaf color)
  • Mortar and pestle (or a spoon)
  • Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • White coffee filters
  • Leaves
  • Scissors


  1. Gather some leaves from your backyard or local park – preferably leaves of different colors
  2. Separate the leaves out by color. Tear each leaf apart and individually crush them in a mortar and pestle to release the juices (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle place your leaf bits into a glass and crush them with the back of a spoon). The more leaves you use, the more pigmented your chromatography paper will be.
  3. Place the crushed leaves in individual glass jars and label them by color
  4. Carefully pour a few tablespoons of rubbing alcohol into each glass until the crushed leaf bits are covered. Be careful not to use too much rubbing alcohol, as it will dilute the pigment in your leaves.
  5. Place the glasses in Pyrex dishes and pour boiling water around (not in!) the glasses to warm up the alcohol. By warming the rubbing alcohol, we sped up the process of drawing the pigments out of the leaves.  You can also cover the glasses with plastic wrap and wait overnight for the pigments to dissolve in the alcohol.
  6. Wait for roughly 30 minutes, or until you can see the leaves’ pigment coloring the alcohol. While you wait, cut 1 inch by 5 inch strips from white coffee filters to use as chromatography paper.
  7. One the alcohol is pigmented, drape your chromatography paper over the side of your glass containers, with ONE end submerged in the alcohol.
  8. Sit back and wait for science to happen!
  9. After 3-5 hours, remove the chromatography paper and examine the results of the experiment. The alcohol had carried the pigments from the leaves up the paper and separated them into bands.

Day Five: Dancing Ghosts and Bats with Static Electricity


  • balloon
  • tissue paper
  • markers
  • scissors
  • tape
  • sweater or your hair


  1. Cut out your ghost or bat (or both!) from the tissue paper. Add minimal designs, like a face for your ghost, as needed.
  2. Tape the bottom of your ghost or bat to the table. If you skip this step, your tissue paper will stick to the balloon in the following steps.
  3. Rub the balloon on a sweater or a head of hair to gather some extra electrons. Move the balloon over your Halloween shapes. You’ll want to make sure you have lots of static built up to make your creatures dance!
  4. The balloon is attracted to the tissue paper. The tissue paper will rise up. As you move the balloon around, the tissue paper will move as well.

Credit: Inspiration Laboratories

Day Six: Edible Fake Blood


  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) tropical fruit punch (Hawaiian Fruit Punch® works great.)
  • 1 cup (237 ml) corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of red food coloring
  • 1 tablespoon (30 ml) of chocolate syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of powdered cocoa


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the blender and mix for 10 seconds. 
  2. Take the paper towel or fabric test: drip a few drops of blood onto a towel to see how realistic it looks to you.

Day Seven: Moon Phase Slider

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