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Science Projects & Experiments in the Garage: A Guide for Parents and Students

We’re all familiar with science experiments in the classroom. Maybe you helped to build a baking soda volcano in school, built a model of the solar system, or ran a clock using the power of a potato. Or, maybe you’ve just seen classroom activities like these on television. Either way, the lab coat-wearing science teacher overseeing a lab full of inquisitive students is a familiar visual. But what if your school doesn’t offer enough science content to satisfy young learners? What about home school students, or those learning on a remote or virtual school platform? Non-classroom students shouldn’t be left behind just because they don’t have access to a school science lab. Any home with a garage can be a science lab of your own making. A garage is a perfect place to conduct scientific experiments. There’s plenty of space, the floor is usually concrete or another hard surface, and there’s often a drain in the floor for spills. Whether you’d like your students to practice experiments they’re learning about in school, to prepare for an upcoming science fair, or to add scientific tests to your home school or remote school curriculum, the garage is the ideal place.

  • Liquefaction: During an earthquake, loose soils like sand can liquefy. You can demonstrate this effect in your garage with just a few simple ingredients. How would liquefaction affect buildings constructed on loose soil?
  • Elephant Toothpaste: Well, it’s not really toothpaste at all (for elephants or anyone else). It is, however, a quickly-expanding foam that you can build in your own garage. It’s the type of experiment that really engages younger learners and drives them to explore science further.
  • Solar Powered Radio: Building a solar-powered radio is a simple way to learn about electricity, solar energy, and wiring diagrams.
  • Cleaning Coins: This simple chemistry experiment illustrates the best ways to remove oxidation from coins. Perform this experiment in your garage for easy cleanup!
  • Rusting of Iron in Air: Over the course of a few days, this intriguing chemistry experiment shows us what the formation of rust looks like.
  • Homemade Pulley System: If you have some odds and ends in your garage, this simple physics experiment is easy to put together. If you don’t have all the parts, a quick trip to the hardware store will sort that out. Kids will learn that this pulley system, while simple, is a complete machine that can do real work.
  • Build and Test Paper Planes with Different Drag: We know that paper airplanes are fun to make and fly. Make them educational by adding a few aerodynamics concepts and recording the observations.
  • Making a Water Rocket Launcher at Home: For more advanced students (with plenty of adult supervision), building a water-powered rocket launcher can be a dream come true. It’s built with common components, so you may already have everything you need in your garage.
  • Light Refraction: This simple experiment shows how light bends as it passes through clear objects. But, the result looks like a magic trick and can really get young imaginations going.
  • Popsicle Stick Catapults: This experiment brings more physics fun, this time with easy-to-make pom-pom launchers. Older kids can scale up the experiment, but this small version can be built and tested right inside your garage.
  • Fruit Battery: It’s a classic for a reason! Powering a light with just a lemon or lime is a powerful visual reminder of how electricity works. Young scientists can try apples, potatoes, and other power sources for comparison.
  • Build a Lava Lamp: This one could get messy, so it’s another ideal garage experiment. The lava lamp is easy to build and fun to watch.
  • Make a Homemade Galvanometer: How are electricity and magnetism linked? Build a homemade galvanometer to find out!
  • Make a Cloud Form in a Jar: Have you ever wondered what forms clouds in the sky? Make your very own cloud in a jar and you can watch the process as it happens.
  • Tornado in a Jar: This experiment is easy to build, but it’s also a real crowd-pleaser. Kids love watching a tornado form in just a few seconds.
  • Baking Soda Volcano: Building an erupting volcano helps kids express their artistic side, while also learning about science and even having fun!
  • Salt Water Experiment: It’s one thing to hear that saltwater is denser than freshwater, but it’s another thing to see it in action. This experiment shows the buoyant effect of that density on a variety of objects.
  • Homemade Water Xylophone: This is another project that’s tricky to build in the house, but the open space of your garage makes it a cinch. It’s a science project but also taps into your kids’ musical talents.
  • Rock Candy Experiment: Reluctant science students may just be swayed by a sweet project they can eat. Making rock candy is easy and the results are delicious.
  • Soda Bottle Ant Farm: Budding entomologists will love building an ant farm. They get to watch the industrious ants constructing their tunnels, and also have the satisfaction of having built the farm themselves.
  • Components of Blood Activity: Turning our attention to biology, this activity helps kids picture what blood looks like. That is, the model includes the major components of blood in approximately the right proportions. This model can be very helpful for visualizing what makes up a large part of our bodies.
  • Make A Model Lung: The human respiratory system is fascinating, but how does it really work? By building a model and observing it in action, students can learn the basic functions of their lungs.
  • Articulated Hand Model: This biology model is a bit more challenging, but will be fun for any kid who loves crafts. The model not only resembles a hand but it can also be moved just like your hand as well.
  • How Arctic Animals Stay Warm: At some point, all kids wonder about the differences between people and animals. In this activity, we explore how animals stay warm in environments far too cold for humans.
  • Homemade Dinosaur Bones: Lots of kids go through a phase where they think dinosaurs are the coolest things ever. Some of us never outgrow that! Regardless of your age, dinosaur bones are easy and fun to make. When finished, you can have a competition to see who can build the most complete dinosaur skeleton.
  • How Are Fossilized Imprints Formed?: Of course, bones aren’t the only evidence the dinosaurs left behind. But how have dinosaur footprints remained imprinted as fossils after so many years? Complete this activity and find out.
  • Earth’s Elements: Let’s not leave out the physical sciences. With just a few bits of clay for atoms and some toothpicks to join them, you can construct models of our most abundant molecules.
  • The Leak-Proof Bag: We’ve all seen resealable zipper bags hold liquids. But how do they perform when pierced by sharp pencils? Surprisingly well, thanks to the magic of long polymer chains. Try this experiment and see for yourself!

By Alan Bernau Jr

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