If you have not heard of discovery bottles, they are bottles that are made with children for the purpose of fun, learning about science, and can be used as a toy. Discovery bottles are very popular on parenting blogs and Pinterest, we have scoured the internet and collected our favorites for you to make with your kids.
The best part of discovery bottles, most of them can be made easily at home with ingredients that you already have. They also are a great way to reuse plastic bottles. If you are interested in making a fun science experiment with your child that doubles as a fun and relaxing toy, make a discovery bottle.
Ocean in a Bottle
This discovery bottle makes a beautiful toy that kids love. After the bottle is made, it can be used over and over again. To make the ocean in a bottle you will need a two liter soda bottle with the label removed, water, food coloring, and oil. This is a fun activity for little kids, but 6-10 year olds may be more likely to grasp the science behind it.
Before you start on the bottle, talk about properties of oil and water. Put a drop or two of oil in your child’s hand and ask her to describe how it feels. Collect a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, a tablespoon of water, and a tablespoon of oil and put each in a separate small paper cup. Put a drop of food coloring in the water, so you can tell it apart from the alcohol after they are mixed. Now ask for a hypothesis of what will happen when they are all mixed together. Mix them in a clear glass and see what happens. You will see them separate into three layers, water on bottom, then oil, then alcohol on top. Now move on to the making of the discovery bottle.
Start by filling one third of your bottle with water, then add a few drops of food coloring, until you get the color you desire. Finally, top off the bottle with a cooking oil, like vegetable or canola. Put the lid on the bottle and tape or glue it shut. Now your ocean discovery bottle is ready; flip it, shake it, twist it, and watch it turn into a bubbly ocean.
Magnetic Field Bottle
Unfortunately, you have to buy something to make, but it’s so cool we think it is worth it. Magnetic science is really fun and interesting, so this is a great project for any kid old enough that you can be sure won’t swallow the magnets, otherwise supervise very closely. To make the bottle, you need a small clear bottle (travel size bottles work really well), magnetic ink, and magnets. To buy magnetic ink, get MICR magnetic ink printer refill, you can buy it on Amazon for about ten bucks. Magnets can be found cheaply at most hardware or craft stores. Try to get the round, flat kind, but any will work.
To start off the experiment, collect a few magnets and explain the science of magnetic force. Ask your child to see what objects the magnet sticks to, does it stick to metal, wood, glass, etc?
Explain that magnets have a north pole and a south pole. If you push the same poles together, they will repel each other. If opposite poles are placed together, they attract each other. Practice repelling and attracting.
Now you are ready to make a discovery bottle. Fill the bottle with water and add a few drops or about a teaspoon of the magnetic ink to the water. Tape or glue the lid shut and shake, shake, shake. The more you shake, the more the magnetic ink separates into small pieces. Use the magnet to move the ink around. Find out how close the magnet has to be to work. Do different magnets work better farther away from the bottle?
Eco-system in a Bottle
This is a really fun project and kids of all ages will find it interesting and cool. This is the only discovery bottle that calls for a glass bottle. A wide mouth jar will also work really well. This bottle is a great way to teach about ecosystems.
To start, talk about how plants use photosynthesis to eat. The sun produces energy that allow plants to convert carbon dioxide and water into food. As photosynthesis happens, plants produce oxygen which living organisms breathe. As humans and other organisms breathe out, we produce carbon dioxide.
For this bottle you have two options, all of the items you need can be purchased from an aquarium store, or collected from a swampy pond. You will need some non-artificially colored soil, small aquatic plants, small snails (2 per .25 liters of water), water from an aquarium (not tap water). Ask people at the aquarium store for advice on the best plants and snails for your project. Fill about 1/6th of the jar with soil and add enough water to saturate the soil. Use a chopstick to plant the plant, and gently fill in the rest of the water. Leave a gap at the top of about 1 cm between the lid and the water for the snails to get air. Add the snails.
Your water will clear up as the soil settles. Keep the jar in a well-lit place, but not in direct sunlight. If your water turns green, there is too much sun, brown means too little sun. This jar can survive for weeks without any intervention, but you may want to give some light maintenance for a longer life. Keep the lid sealed, but occasionally peek in to smell the water or feed a flake or two of fish food to the snails (only once a week or so at most). You may need to occasionally change the water, but not frequently.
Make a Discovery Bottle Today
Make a discovery bottle with your children to teach them about scientific principles and have fun!