- Baking Soda
- A tray with raised edges (such as a cookie sheet) or a shallow bowl
- One or more small bowls for the vinegar
- Measuring spoons or an eye dropper
- Something to serve as a table cloth (even cutting open a paper grocery bag and spreading it under your tray would be fine)
- Food Coloring (optional)
Why I teach this activity to elementary school children:
Part science experiment, part hands-on exploration, lots of fun!
Spread a thin layer of baking soda along the bottom of your tray. If using food coloring, pour vinegar into a few small bowls and mix in a few drops of food coloring at a time until the colors are strong. If using only vinegar, just pour it into a small bowl.
How it works:
Using the measuring spoons or an eye dropper start by pouring small amounts of vinegar onto the baking soda. Watch what happens. If you are using dyed food coloring, try pouring different colors of vinegar close to each other on the tray. See if you notice any changes when the colors overlap. You can also try adding larger amounts of vinegar. Are the results different? Try touching the mixture with your fingers. What does it feel like? Can you shape the mixture with your hands? If using colors, can you create a piece of artwork by adding the colors in particular places on the tray?
Learning while playing:
Many children doing this project are content to play with the materials and make their own discoveries. I find that the best way to support these discoveries and encourage children’s observational skills is to simply comment on what you are noticing and find interesting. Many times children respond to this shared interest by sharing their own observations with you.
If your child has questions about the science behind the experiment it is easy to find information online. My not too technical explanation is that when the baking soda and vinegar mix they create a gas. When the gas rises it pushes the vinegar and baking soda out of the way, making the bubbles and eruptions that you see.
There are also other takes on this experiment if you enjoy offering these types of activities at home. Did you know you can blow up a balloon with vinegar and baking soda? Try here: https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/balloon-baking-soda-vinegar-experiment-kids/
Activity by Robbie Hartery, Sprague Teacher