Science Activities for Kids Concerning Air

By Zora Hughes
Hot air balloons illustrate how warm air expands and rises.
Hot air balloons illustrate how warm air expands and rises.

Exploring science at home with your child is a fun way to reinforce science principles she is learning in school. If your child is learning about the science of air in school, you can spark her interest with cool scientific concepts related to air.

Weather Activities

To create tornadoes, which are violent, rotating columns of air, help your child create a tornado in a bottle. Fill one bottle with water, then tape another empty bottle on top, taping the two mouthpieces together with duct tape. Flip the bottles over and rotate vigorously to get the water to spin like a tornado as it falls into the other bottle. To make your own fog with your child, fill one-third of a glass jar with water. Light a match, hold it over the opening, then drop it in the jar, covering tightly with the lid. Add a bag of ice on top of the lid and watch the fog slowly form. Explain how the warm water vapors, combined with the cold air from the ice cause the fog.

Air Taking Up Space

To help your child understand that air takes up space, you can start with simple activities, such as having her blow up a balloon. Explain that the air from her lungs is being transferred to the balloon, making it expand. Take an old sheet outside and lift it in the air like a parachute. The sheet captures air, which makes it come back down slower. You can also teach your child that warm air expands, causing it to take up more space then cool air. To demonstrate this, place a balloon over the mouth of a empty glass bottle, then sit it in a pot of hot water. The heat from the water will heat the air which has to expand, stretching the balloon.

Air and Sounds

Explain to your kids that without air, it would be impossible to make sound. Anything that can move air can make sound. If you have any horn instruments in your home, you can demonstrate how the instrument vibrates the air, creating the different sounds. Let your child try to blow into the horn instruments, too. You can also demonstrate sound waves by creating a string phone, connecting to foam cups with string. Explain how the air from speaking into one of the cups travels along the string as a sound wave to the other cup where the message is received.

Air and Pressure

Teach your child about air pressure with cool tricks, such as filling a glass about one-third full of water, then placing an index card on top. Your child can hold the card in place, flip over the glass, then let go. The index card will stay in place and keep the water from spilling out. Another one to try is getting a shelled hard-boiled egg into a large neck bottle. The neck opening should be slightly smaller than the egg. You would then light a match, tossing into the bottom of the bottle, then sit the egg on the mouthpiece. Your child will be amazed as the pressure builds from the warm air trapped in the bottle, sucking the egg in.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.