Hands-on experiences are the best way to do science so here are five experiments anyone can complete at home.
Experiment 1: Isolate DNA from bananas.
DNA is a molecule with a complex structure that stores and passes on the genetic information of every living organism on Earth. This simple method of DNA extraction is based on using surfactants (soap) to destroy the lipid layers of banana cells’ membranes and nuclei. Then, sodium ions from the table salt convert the DNA molecules from the destroyed cell material into a form that easily precipitates from the cold isopropyl alcohol.
Experiment 2: Culture your own kombucha.
A SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) is a symbiotic organism consisting of two components: bacteria and yeast, as the name suggests. The yeast ferments sugar to form alcohol and carbon dioxide, and acetic acid bacteria oxidize the alcohol and convert it into organic acids. They gradually create a complex system that forms a thin film on the liquid’s surface. As the bacteria and yeast multiply, the film thickens and acquires a characteristic jellyfish-like shape. This gives it its name: Medusomyces gisevii. Be sure to wash the glass container thoroughly with a baking soda solution and rinse it with boiling water to prevent the formation of the usual mold instead of SCOBY.
Experiment 3: Make pH indicator strips from cabbage.
Red cabbage contains pigments known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins can also be found in many fruits, vegetables, and berries, such as blueberries, red grapes, red onions, and so on. They change colors in accordance with the acidity of their environment – a property that can help you determine the pH of various substances around you! They turn red in acidic mediums such as vinegar, purple in weakly acidic and neutral mediums such as water, blue in weakly basic mediums such as a solution of baking soda, and green, then yellow in strongly basic solutions such as drain cleaner.
Experiment 4: Test for vitamin C.
Many fruits and vegetables contain ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. It plays a key function in biological processes in the body as a good reducer and consequently a strong antioxidant. It helps limit the impact of various free radicals (oxidizing agents that can cause mutations and destruction in cells) on the organism. Iodine can be used to test vegetables and fruits for ascorbic acid content. Iodine is an oxidizer, so when it reacts with ascorbic acid, it is reduced to colorless iodide ions.
Experiment 5: Obtain oxygen with the help of a plant.
Here is an interesting and entertaining experiment that lies on the borderline of two sciences – chemistry and biology. You can easily try it at home and amaze your friends and family. Photosynthesis is a complex chemical process in which light energy is transformed into chemical bond energy. More simply, it is a process in which carbon dioxide and water are made into organic substances and oxygen under the influence of light.
It is easy to prove the presence of oxygen in the test tube. As oxygen is a gas that supports combustion, all you have to do is lower a smoldering splint or match into the test tube, and it will immediately flare up.
Why do we need a solution of baking soda? As the carbon dioxide in the air dissolves poorly in water, we can use carbonates or bicarbonates, which by their nature are salts of carbonic acid, to increase its concentration.
You can learn more about fungi, scientific experiments and pH from our article:
How special do you have to be to live in acidic soil?
Check our Lesson Ideas section for more tips for learning science – both in school and at home.