When most people think about a stereotypical scientist, they probably envision a white lab coat, goggles, and test tubes. (For good reason…chemical reactions are fun!) When two substances are mixed together and the result is unexpected, you feel like a real chemist. I think all kids should have a chance to pretend to be a mad scientist during their childhood. When mixing a clear liquid with a yellow liquid, most kids would not predict that the result would be red. My latest science contribution to 123Homeschool4Me is just such a color changing acid-base experiment.
The most common way to determine whether a liquid is an acid or a base is using inexpensive test strips made from litmus paper. However, it is easy to make your own indicator at home. This color-changing experiment uses the spice commonly found in Indian food called turmeric.
If you would like to supplement this fun, easy-to-do chemistry experiment which a little more background science, I used the book Super Science: Matter Matters with my own kids. This engaging book aimed at kids between the ages of 7 and 11 covers a lot of introductory chemistry in a fun engaging way with pop-ups (keep out of hands of toddlers!), tabs to pull, and flaps to lift. After reading the double spread on acids and bases called “Killer Chemicals” and talking about how the planet Venus is covered with sulfuric acid rain, my 6 year old was a little hesitant to be around all the vinegars in our kitchen. His mild fear was a great starting off point to talk about the pH scale and how only the acids and bases near the ends of the scale are actually dangerous.
If you can acquire a little turmeric and rubbing alcohol and have 20 minutes to spare, I highly recommending heading over to 123Homeschool4Me to check out this really easy and engaging chemistry experiment. I promise your budding chemists will have a great time.