Discovering Gas - Science Experiments for Kids

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What are gases? How do we use them?

Everything in our world is made up of matter or just about anything that takes up space and has mass. We all know that all the matter in the world exists in 3 different main forms i.e. solids, liquids and gases. Solids like rocks, stones, wood pieces are hard substances and they remain in the same shape. Liquids in the form of water or oil can flow from one place to another. But in the case of gases, it is a bit different.

The air around us is a mixture of different types of gases. Some of these gases are very useful. For example, Oxygen is a very important gas to us. It helps organisms to stay alive. Gases which come from the ground are often used for cooking purposes. One kind of gas helps balloons to float up in the air. Another type allows divers to breathe under the sea. Gases are also used in factories for making substances such as plastics, medicines, fertilizers and dyes.

On this page, we get to see some simple gas based Science experiments. They are meant for kids but adults can join in (especially for those experiments that require parental guidance) and refresh their knowledge about the same in the process.

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Trapping Air

Here’s a simple Science experiment that allows you trap air and see it.

Things you will need:

  1. A drinking glass
  2. A bowl of water

Directions:

  1. Take the bowl of water. Hold the drinking glass upside down and slowly immerse the glass into the bowl in such a way that the opening is towards the water. You will find some resistance going on. It is not easy to push the glass down in water because the air in it is lighter than water.
  2. Hold this glass in the same upside down position on the bottom of the bowl. You would be able to see air inside the bowl. The water has not been able to get inside the glass because the glass is still full of air.
  3. Now tilt the glass. You will see air bubbles coming out to the water surface.

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The Push of Air

Air pushes on all things from all directions. It even pushes upwards. The following Science experiment proves this fact. Please take care not to use soft cards and ensure that the glass is completely filled. Otherwise, this experiment will not work out as desired. Chances are you will spill the water if you go against these rules. To be safe, try to do this experiment over a bath, sink or outdoors.

Things you will need:

  1. A small piece of stiff card
  2. A drinking glass
  3. Water

Directions:

  1. Fill the glass completely with water.
  2. Put the stiff card flat over the mouth of the glass.
  3. Hold the card firmly in place.
  4. Very carefully turn the glass upside down.
  5. Try to take away your hand from the card. You will see that the card will stay put and still hold the water in the drinking glass. The air that is present below the card is pushing the card back and keeping it in place.

Steel Wool
Steel Wool | Source

Rusting and Oxygen

All living organisms need Oxygen to thrive. But sometimes Oxygen can change the composition of some substances. Like for example, Oxygen and water together can cause an iron to become rusty.

The following gas Science experiment demonstrates how oxygen is needed for the rusting process to take place.

Things you will need:

  1. Soap
  2. Water
  3. A shallow dish
  4. A felt tipped pen
  5. A nail or a large pin
  6. A ball of steel wool
  7. A plastic cup
  8. A large glass jar

Directions:

  1. First and foremost, remove all the grease from the ball of steel wool by washing it in soapy water.
  2. Into the dish, add about 2 cm of water.
  3. Now use the safety pin to prick holes all over the plastic cup. Place this plastic cup upside down into the water in the dish.
  4. Place the washed steel wool on top of the plastic cup.
  5. Put the jar on top of the steel wool and cup.
  6. Mark the level of water on the side of the jar.
  7. Now leave this to rest for a few days. Add some more water if required. Now and then carefully rock the jar to allow more water inside.
  8. In a matter of days, you will notice the steel wool rusting. The whole rusting process is using up oxygen. As the air is used, you will notice that the water level in the jar will rise to fill up the space. Eventually all the oxygen will be used up and the water would have taken more air space in the jar.

Figure 1: Making your own Windmill
Figure 1: Making your own Windmill
Figure 2: Making your own Windmill
Figure 2: Making your own Windmill
Figure 3: Making your own Windmill
Figure 3: Making your own Windmill

Make your own Windmill

We cannot see the wind but we sure can feel it and see the effect it has on things. For example, a really strong wind can uproot trees but it can also help windmills to work and turn the sails.

The following Science experiment will provide step by step instructions on how to make your own windmill. It is a good Science project idea for kids still in elementary classes.

Things you will need:

  1. A pencil
  2. A ruler
  3. A piece of thin card about 10 cm x 10 cm
  4. A pin
  5. Scissors
  6. A small bead
  7. A stick about 25 cm long

Directions:

  1. Using the pencil, draw two lines, from one corner of the card to the opposite corner as shown in Figure 1.
  2. In each corner make a small hole using the pin just along the lines. Also make a pinhole at the center where the lines cross through.
  3. Using the scissors, cut along the pencil line halfway through towards the center.
  4. Bend each corner towards the center in such a way that the four holes are on top of the center hole. Push a pin through the holes as shown in Figure 2.
  5. Thread the bead behind the windmill onto the pin. Push the pin point firmly into the stick. Refer Figure 3.
  6. Your windmill is ready. When you blow, which way does the windmill turn? Find out if it works better when you blow from the front of the windmill or from its side. Also whirl it around in the air and take notes of what you see.

Making your own paper windmill - Video Tutorial

Wind Power Experiment Kit

Thames & Kosmos Wind Power 2.0
Thames & Kosmos Wind Power 2.0

Build wind powered generators and much more using this experiment kit.

 
How the shape of the airfoil looks like
How the shape of the airfoil looks like | Source

How wings work

Aerofoils

Balloons are able to float in air because the gases in them are lighter than the air outside. But this cannot be applied in the case of airplanes. How do they stay in the air like they do? If you have noticed the shape of the airplane wings – you might be knowing that the top surface of the wings are curved whereas the lower surface is straighter. This is what gives the plane that lift required to stay in the air. This shape is called an aerofoil or airfoil.

You can make your own aerofoil. The following Science experiment shows how.

Things you will need:

  1. A small paper sheet
  2. Sticky tape

Directions:

  1. Take the paper sheet and fold it into half.
  2. Move the upper half of the paper back a little such that it obtains a curved surface. The lower half remains straighter.
  3. Now carefully stick the edge of the upper half after you have moved it back a little to the lower half with sticky tape.
  4. This is in resemblance to the shape of an aerofoil.
  5. Place this aerofoil on top of the table and blow at a close proximity. You will see the aerofoil rise.

© 2014 Kalpana Iyer

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