The best way to learn science is through hands-on experiences. I love sharing these fun, engaging experiments with my students. The best experiments, however, are ones that can be set up quickly and taken down easily. Simple experiments can be conducted in a class period or a short block of time. Here are some fun and simple experiments for upper elementary that you can use with your students right away!
Fun and Simple Experiment #1
Build a Simple Circuit Lab
Teach your students about current electricity. After introducing terms and reading about current electricity in the electricity unit, share an experiment to bring the concepts to life.
With current electricity, electrical currents flow along a path. One of the coolest ways to explain current electricity is a simple experiment where students will build their own circuit lab. All it takes is size D batteries, battery holders with clips, insulated wire, flashlight bulbs, and bulb holders. With this activity, your students can make a closed circuit.
1. First, begin by providing the materials to your students.
2. Then, challenge your students to figure out how to make the bulb light.
3. Next, have your students disconnect the wire from the end of the battery to see what happens.
4. Reflect on the different terms introduced at the beginning of the lesson with questions from the Building a Simple Circuit Lab reflection sheet.
- a. What is the energy source?
- b. What are the terminals?
- c. What happens when you connect the plastic covering of the wire and not the exposed plastic ends?
- d. What two parts are needed to make electricity flow?
- e. Do you need a resistor?
- f. Do you have to have wires connected to both terminals to complete the circuit?
These reflection questions along with additional reading will help your students understand current electricity with this simple, engaging experiment. You can read about other great electricity experiments here.
Fun and Simple Experiment #2
Floating Marker Drawings
Maybe you’ve seen the video online of how you can bring marker drawings to life with water! It’s not just magic; there’s actually science behind the “magic” marker!
1. First, have your students write with a dry-erase marker on a non-porous, smooth surface like a glass dish or a desk.
2. Then, they should pour water on top of the marker drawing.
3. Next, the marker magically “lifts” away.
4. After performing the initial experiment, try using different types of markers to perform the same experiment on smooth non-porous surfaces. (Use dishes or surfaces that can be marked with permanent markers.)
5. Next, use dry-erase markers on different porous surfaces like paper or corkboard.
6. Finally, have your students reflect on simple questions to figure out why the marker lifts away.
- a. What are the qualities of dry-erase markers compared to permanent markers?
- b. Why does the dry erase marker lift from porous surfaces and not non-porous surfaces?
- c. Why does the dry erase marker lift and not the permanent marker?
7. Discuss the difference between soluble (dissolvable) and insoluble (incapable of being dissolved) substances.
8. Discuss density and how it related to solubility.
This fun lesson is a great way to discuss density and solubility with your students.
Fun and Simple Experiment #3
Force and Motion
Even upper elementary kids love Hot Wheels cars! Teach your students about force and motion with some books, cars, and pennies!
1. Start by introducing concepts of force and motion with your students with the force and motion unit materials.
2. Next, have your students make a ramp with a book and a small board.
3. Then, have them roll the hot wheel car down the ramp.
4. Next, measure the distance traveled, time, and speed (distance/time) on the force and motion chart.
5. Repeat the experiment with three and five books.
6. Have your students reflect on the questions:
- a. How does height impact the speed of the car?
- b. How does the angle impact the motion of the car?
- c. What role does gravity play in the experiment?
7. Your students can also add an additional challenge by taping pennies to the top of the car.
8. Ask your students how weight impacts the experiment.
You can read about other force and motion experiments here and grab a freebie!
These incredible yet simple science experiments can be completed at home or school. Pair these and other experiments with science unit lesson plans to support student learning!