Science Myths for Kids

By Flora Richards-Gustafson
Young children using microscope in science class
Young children using microscope in science class

When you child goes to school, she may come home with science-related information that is less than factual. Author Lori Bourne explains that science myths can stem from experiments that others explain incorrectly, coming to the wrong conclusion about observations or scientific concepts portrayed incorrectly in different types of media. Help your kid get her facts straight by debunking common science myths.

The Five-Second Rule

Some kids believe that food that touched the floor for five seconds or less is safe to eat. According to the University of Arkansas, food collects bacteria as soon as it hits the floor. Dusting it off or rinsing the food with water may not get rid of all the germs. Test the five-second rule with your child with bacteria growing kits. Use the kits to measure the bacteria levels on food that never touched the floor, food that were on the floor for five seconds and less, and food that was on the floor for a longer period. Make sure to wear sterile gloves while doing the experiment so the bacteria on your hands don’t interfere with the test results.

Dogs are Colorblind

A common myth about dogs is that they are colorblind. The Connecticut Human Society reports that dogs can see colors, but have a limited spectrum. In addition to shades of gray, dogs can see yellow and blue, but have a hard time with red and green. If you have a dog, you and your kid can debunk the colorblindness myth by teaching it the colors yellow and blue with different objects, such as balls. With ongoing training, your dog will bring you the yellow ball when asked.

Deadly Penny

A common physics myth is that a penny dropped from the top of a tall building, such as the Empire State Building, can kill a pedestrian on the ground. The LiveScience website explains that in such a situation, pennies are too flat and small to harm anyone. Instead of picking up speed as the penny falls to the ground, the air cushions it and causes resistance. To bust this science myth, do experiments at a playground that test the terminal velocity of different items at various heights to determine how fast they fall and see the impact they make on the ground or a soft surface. Compare your results to the terminal velocities of the same or similar objects.

Blind as a Bat

A bat’s eyesight is better than scientists originally thought, according to USA Today. In low-light conditions, bats use echolocation to navigate. Like other animals, they use visual landmarks to look for food and find their way home. You and your child can get a sense of how good a bat’s eyes are by visiting the bat display at a local zoo. Hold up a shiny object to get a bat’s attention and watch it follow the item as your child moves it around. Help your kid get a sense of how echolocation works by playing blind tag in a safe location that echoes or in an empty room. Before playing, however, hear how your voices sound when you face different directions, while facing a wall. Similar to a bat, when you blindfold your child she’ll use the direction of your voice and the echoing sounds to navigate and find her way to you.

About the Author

Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.