Science theme party


Science Advisor
My niece just turned nine, and we had a science themed party for her.

She's not actually a huge science nerd herself; but her uncle (that's me) has a reputation... and is inclined to think up fun games. So when it came time to planning a party, this was what she wanted. I was up for it.

We had a lot of fun. The photos didn't all turn out well, but maybe I'll get a few worth posting.

What we did:

Coke fountains

We got a whole heap of bottles of cheap fizzy drinks, and menthos, and played around making fountains. This didn't actually work quite as well as I had planned, but it was still impressive. If you have never tried it, get yourself a bottle of fizzy drink (I used a cheap diet coke) and a roll of menthos, and drop four or five into the bottle. Be sure you can get them straight in before they get blown out, and make sure you can step back quickly. This popular reaction now has its own wikipedia page Diet Coke and Mentos eruption.

Elephant toothpaste

A bit of hydrogen peroxide (I used 6%, 3% will still work, 30% is not so good around children) put hydrogen peroxide and detergent (2/1 mix) into a bottle, add to food colour for effect, and then pour in a little bit of activated yeast. It all foams out beautifully; and the foam is warm. It's safe to touch the foam, but I gave the kids rubber gloves anyway, of course had water on hand to rinse off.

Surface tension colours

Get a bit of milk in a plastic takeaway food container, put in four little drops of different colour food dies, and then let kids touch a drop of detergent on the surface of the milk. All the colours run away from the detergent and the whole mix seems to seethe. I found it best to give them little bamboo skewers, and ues them to just touch the surface of the water with a drop of detergent. The temptation to mix it all up is irresistible; but I think the best effects occur with no mixing, and the smallest drops of detergent you can manage.

Smoke rings

My favourite. I built a home made vortex generator out of various bits and pieces in the garage. An old chair for a frame to make it stable, a large solid plastic basket, sheets of plastic, octopus straps and lots of tape. Worked a charm. The vortex gun can fire a high speed stable vortex in the form of a ring. I hired a smoke generator to let them be visible. We also used it to blow out the birthday cake from several meters away.

This was a lot of fun, and a great way to get young kids interested in fun and games with science. I'm now collecting a new set of tricks for Christmas.

Cheers -- sylas
Some interesting ideas I've found...

Dry ice in drinks will make them 'smoke' like a mad scientists concoction. Combined with test tubes or beakers for serving this could make a fun addition. Possibly not very good for a children's party due to dangers of touching or ingesting the undissolved dry ice.

Quinine (which you find in tonic water) glows under a black light. I'm not sure if it will glow very well after mixed with something else though and some people may not like the taste of tonic but I could just imagine a neat glowing Gin & Tonic with dry ice in a beaker. :-)

And (something I have always wanted to try) making ice cream with liquid nitrogen could be rather interesting. Definitely doable for a kids party since they can just watch the process without need of actually handling the stuff.
Wow, sounds cool.

Maybe make ice cream with ice and salt?


Homework Helper
Something I've always found interesting was the classic magnet-through-copper-pipe trick, where you drop a magnet and wait 20 seconds as it slowly proceeds down the pipe, then drop a similarly-sized stone and wait 0.5 seconds as it rushes through.

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