We love teaching children about their bodies. Here are our top 5 human body science experiments.
1. Life size body map
The first activity looks at the human body and will help children to develop what they have been learning at school. For this activity you will need big pieces of paper, (as big as your children!) , pens, a variety of different coloured paper and any materials that can be used to represent organs such as cotton wool, string, balloons, bubble wrap and play dough.
First of all you should place the piece of paper onto the floor and get your child to also lie on the floor so that you can draw around them. Get them to try and lie as still as possible so that you can show them a true representation of the human body.
Once you have drawn around someone you then need to get to work on creating the bones and organs. Try and use lots of different colours to demonstrate how each part of the body works. Ask your children what they think makes up the human body and get them to make shapes of what they think each part looks like.
For any younger children they may need some help so you could try showing them a picture book which simply shows the different parts of the human body. You could also provide children with a simple model of the body so that they understand what bones are in the body and why they are needed- to prevent us from becoming sloppy and falling over.
Explore different parts of the body such as the heart and the spine – why not take a trip to a natural history museum to find more about how spines in different creatures work and how they differ from humans. You could also use bubble wrap to form the lungs as they are full of air chambers and pockets much like bubble wrap.
2. Demonstrate the Human Heart with a Tennis Ball
Learning about the human heart for kids is one of the body’s most exciting adventures! As we can’t see it in action, it is a difficult concept for some children and adults to grasp. Here is a fun way for children to learn about the heart as they feel and “see” it in action.
For this activity all you will need is a tennis ball and a bucket of water. Drill a hole in a tennis ball and dunk it in a bucket full of water. Once the ball is full of water, pump it with your fist with the hole facing upwards.
Explain to your children that each time your heart squeezes, blood, like the water, is pushed out of the heart. When the ball is empty, relax your fist and let it regain its shape. This is when the heart fills back up with blood from the lungs to be pushed out into the body.
What does a heart do? In simplest terms, a heart is a pump that pushes blood all over the body. We need the blood delivered because it carries the oxygen (among other things) our organs and tissues need to function.
3. Make a Model of the Human Lung
Ever wanted to see how your lungs work? Why not give this fun experiment a go which will teach kids about the human lung. For this activity you will need a plastic bottle, a straw, an elastic band, scissors, 2 balloons and some play dough. First of all you will need to remove the bottom of your bottle (adult help may be required). Then, tie a knot in one end of a balloon and snip off the fat end. This then needs to be stretched around the bottom of the plastic bottle.
For the next part you will need the straw as it needs to be placed in the neck of the other balloon and secured tightly with the elastic band, but not so that you crush the straw.The air must flow through so test it with a little blow through the straw to see if the balloon inflates.
Next, put the straw and the balloon into the neck of the bottle and secure with the play dough making a seal around the bottle – make sure that again, you don’t crush straw.Your lung is finished and now for the action!
Hold the bottle and pull the knot of the balloon at the bottom and watch what happens? You should find that the balloon inside the bottle inflates, and that as you let go it deflates.
This is because as the knotted balloon is pulled it creates more space inside the bottle. Air then comes down the straw and fills the balloon with some air to fill the space! When you let go of the knot the space no longer exists, so the air from the balloon is expelled and deflates.
This demonstrates how our lungs work. Air is taken in through the mouth and nose, passes down the windpipe and into our lungs. The diaphragm at the bottom of our chest moves down to create more space. As we breath out the diaphragm raises again. The knotted balloon represents the diaphragm and balloon inside the container the lung!
4. What is blood made of?
*Please note: This activity is not suitable for children under the age of 3. Please be careful with younger siblings as the water beads can be a choking hazard.
For this activity you will need a large plastic container (or sensory tub), red water beads, ping-pong balls, water and red craft foam. First of all you will need to follow the instructions on the packaging to hydrate the water beads. Then place them (and the water) into your plastic tub to soak. It could take up to 10 hours for the beads to fully hydrate.
You will also need to cut up the craft foam into small pieces so that they can be used as the platelets. Add the platelets and ping-pong balls to the plastic container.
Let your kids explore for a while and then tell them the parts of blood:
Red water beads = Red Blood Cells (that carry oxygen)
Ping Pong Balls = White Blood Cells (that fight germs, bacteria, and viruses)
Craft Foam Pieces = Platelets (that help heal cuts)
Water = Plasma (helps the blood move through veins and arteries and carries sugars and hormones)
5. Demonstrate why we need muscles and bones
The final experiment focuses on how we use muscles and bones. This is an entertaining experiment which is suitable for all ages to enjoy.
All you will need is a pancake and a gingerbread man. These are simple to make and use basic ingredients that you can find in your kitchen. For a recipe for gingerbread men and pancakes take a look at the links below.
The pancake illustrates what our muscles are like, bendable which allows us to move, but they can’t hold anything up. The gingerbread man demonstrates what our bones are like: strong but stiff. Our bones are strong and hold our bodies up (just like the gingerbread man is able to stand upright without falling to the ground).
When you try to move bones (without muscles), they can’t move much without snapping in half. Enjoy eating this experiment afterwards!