Kids are naturally curious. Questioning almost everything and anything they see, they are born scientists and explorers. It would almost be a perfect gift to help them explore this inborn streak with a dedicated space, in-house science lab, for their explorations.
A home science lab is a must for curious kids. It is a tool to propel children’s interest in STEM fields. Children, who are encouraged to explore and experiment, develop superior critical reasoning, problem solving and logical skills. A safe environment to explore and tinker can help children sate their innate curiosity, learn to be independent and reason for themselves. For parents, a science lab for home can translate into a boredom buster space.
How to Build a Science Lab at Home for Kids (5-9 Years)
To set up a science lab at home, you need to be mindful of the space and the materials you stock in. With little, thoughtful effort you can easily set up a dedicated space for your little scientist without spending too much.
1. Choose a Space for your Laboratory
The foremost consideration in setting up a science lab at home is a dedicated space, where your child can go freely and independently to experiment. However, you don’t necessarily need a special room for the science lab. What you do need is a well-lit and ventilated place.
Your garage, washing area or a small nook in study or porch is good enough to set up a science space for your kids.
Secondly, the space needs to be easily accessible and risk free. Space should be such that you feel comfortable while leaving your children alone to tinker with the things around in that area.
2. Props for Science Lab
One of the most essential items for a home science lab for kids is a table. The workbench or table needs to be sturdy and well balanced. A folding table or a chauki is generally good enough. You can place two chaukis next to each other to make one elongated table.
Another thing you definitely need for setting up a science lab at home is a plastic mat to cover the floor. This would protect your floor from spills and also make cleaning easier. What fun is a science setup if it can’t be messy.
Use storage bins to stock science supplies and materials. Your children should be able to open these boxes easily. You can use zip lock bags or lock & lock boxes that are air tight and also easy to open for little hands. In case you opt for zip lock bags, you can store them in empty shoeboxes to maximise storage space.
If your worktable has drawers, layer them with organisers to utilise space better. Remember, space utilisation is the key to setting up a science lab at home. Use label on bins/boxes/bags to mark the ingredients properly.
3. Tools for Science Lab
The next step in setting up a science lab at home is stocking it up with the right science tools and materials. Some basic tools for a science lab would be:
- Geometry Box
- Elastic Bands
- Empty Jars/Beakers
- Test Tubes
- Magnifying Glass
- Bug Viewer
- Pens & Pencils
- Stationary Items
- Small Microscope
- Wash clothes
- Kitchen Towels
- Safety Glasses for eyes
- Lab Coat
These are some of the basic supplies for a science lab. You can choose to add and subtract from them according to your child’s interests and your comfort level. The idea is to have things for science exploration ready at hand.
Along with these, you can also store some kitchen ingredients like baking soda, baking powder, yeast in your science lab. Chemicals like Borax, Hydrogen Peroxide, Potassium Permanganate and rubbing alcohol need more careful storage and you might want to keep them under your nose.
You can additionally stock up your home science lab with readymade science kits. These can be easily purchased online or through a stationary shop. Some of the kits that you can consider investing in are:
- Geological Rock kits
- DIY Slime Kits
- DIY Kinetic Sand
- Electronic Kits
- Minerals Kit
- Alloy Kits
- Soap Making Kit
- Perfume Making Kit
- Wind Mill Kit
- Hydroponic Kit
These are some of the popular kits with children that enable easy science exploration. If you are not a keen science fan yourself, these kits can come pretty handy and help your children experiment and learn.
Science Files & Records
This is a must for any science exploration. Provide a box file to your kids to help them store their observation and record them for future reference. A clean, organised way of filing can go a long way in recapitulating what has been done before. Also, observation and recording is an important part of any scientific experiment and thus needs a place of its own in your lab.
Once you are ready with the above setup, it is easy for children to experiment in their own science lab. You can also be at ease knowing what all your child has access to. It is important to build an understanding of what can be done independently and what would require adult supervision.
Discuss the rules of operating in the space with your child and that they must take proper care of it and clean it post use. Respecting the space will build trust and confidence in both you and your kids and make the space more usable.
To ensure that the space is utilised best to satisfy your children’s curiosity and further their inner scientist, it is a good idea to keep a booklet of age and skill appropriate experiments handy. Some of our suggestions are as follows:
School Section Experiments
What your children are learning at school is a good place to start with your science lab. Help them relate what they are being taught at school by doing simple experiments in your science lab. Like if they are learning about solutions, you can concoct simple solutions like salt and sugar solution. Next, try mixing oil and water.
Little imagination and creativity can go a long way here in whipping your experiments. Ask your children what would they like to experiment with and you will land with zillions of ideas, in case you are falling short. Make sure to do some from your children’s suggestions even if they sound bizarre.
That will keep their morale high and their creativity buzzing.
Physics Experiments for Kids
Nothing is more fascinating than simple physics experiment that you can do at home in your own science lab. Split a beam of light using prism, make different sounds, check density of materials, experiment with buoyancy, pendulum art, static electricity etc. There are tonnes of experiments you can do under this category that are immensely simple and loaded with fun.
Chemistry Experiments for Kids
When you have a science lab at home for kids, it is hard not to engage in some kitchen chemistry experiments for kids.
Mixing kitchen ingredients like lemon juice and baking soda to see what happens. Make saturated solutions of salt and sugar, make slime, whip up your own play dough and non-newtonian fluid to start with. If you have patience, you can grow your crystals or make bouncy eggs and bath bombs.
Biology Experiments for Kids
Let your child be a little plant scientist and experiment with leaves and parts of the plants. Young kids generally learn about plants, as a part of their school curriculum and doing related experiments at home will boost their learning.
Let your child examine a leaf through a microscope, explore parts of a bug with a bug viewer and draw out their observations. These simple biology experiments will enrich your child’s mind immensely and help them appreciate nature better.
Engineering and Mechanical Experiments for Kids
This category of experiments spells fun — and brings out the engineer in your child! The best part is that they can be done with easy to find loose parts and recyclables.
Let your child set up a paper cup tower, build bridges, make catapults and pulleys with simple loose parts. Allow them to tinker and brainstorm on the design of paper airplanes and come up with their own versions. Make a car out of cardboard roll and bottle caps, design robots with construction blocks. Imagination is the key.
Earth Science Experiments
This category of experiments includes water cycle experiments, soil explorations and wetware experiments. Most of these can be easily set up and do not require much time.
Investigate what makes up the earth, uncover layers of soil, make barometer and wind vanes to spark curiosity and help your children understand what makes their planet a special place to live.