Thursday, October 11, 2018

4 Easy Science Projects Using Oranges

If you have older children in school, you may have recently had to shepherd them through the process of creating a science fair project. This process can be stressful for parents and kids alike. (“The caterpillars are ALL dead!” “Why didn’t you label this graph?” “Where are all the glue sticks??”) By the end of the process, though, hopefully, something has been learned!

Meanwhile, if there are younger kids in your home (or if grandkids come to visit!) you may enjoy doing much smaller science experiments with them from time to time. I know my own children used to beg to play with “science kits” we had bought. These were fun. But I often felt like I had shelled out big money for what was really just a few dollars of ingredients and some instructions, plus my household materials.

Simple Projects for Pennies

Fortunately, these days, it’s really easy to find tons of fun and simple science experiments online that can be done for pennies. Many require only the most basic materials, like vinegar, baking soda and dish soap.

In fact, you can do a science experiment with something as simple as an orange! Of course, if you’re anything like us, you might not want to surrender one of our juicy, delicious navels or tangerines to science. It just seems a bit….wrong.

However, you could always use one of those anemic grocery store oranges. Also, a few of these let you eat the fruit first, or afterwards (don’t worry—no toxic chemicals involved).
Want to learn with citrus? Check out these fun and fruity experiments.

Oranges Go Swimming—Or Do They?

In this experiment in buoyancy, kids try to predict whether peeled and unpeeled oranges are going to sink or float in a bowl of water. Of course, the answer is that the buoyant, unpeeled orange will float (due to the air pockets in the skin) while the peeled orange will sink. This may seem fairly predictable to adults, but I remember the game of “Sink or Float?” entertaining my preschooler for quite some time.

How To: Orange Buoyancy Science Experiment

How Much Water is in an Orange?

One of the reasons that oranges are so good for us is that they are highly hydrating. Just how much water is in an orange, though? You can find out (roughly) with this simple experiment. You’ll slice and weigh a fresh orange, dry it out and weigh the dried slices, and do some simple math. Hot tip: You can dry your oranges faster in the oven.

How To: Orange Water Volume

Orange Battery

In this experiment, you use a nice, juicy orange, a copper nail, and a galvanized zinc nail to make an LED light glow! What makes this work is the acidity in the fruit and the dissimilar metals. By the way, this experiment will work better with a nice, fresh orange than an old and tired one.

How To: How to Make Electricity Using an Orange

Popping a Balloon with an Orange Peel

Here’s one that definitely allows you to eat the orange—bonus. In this very simple demonstration, you simply blow up a balloon, take a fresh orange peel, and squeeze the orange peel onto the balloon so that some of the peel oil sprays out onto the balloon. If the balloon is made out of rubber, it should instantly pop. This is because of the powerfully fragrant molecule that gives oranges their fresh smell. It weakens the latex in balloons!

How To: Warning: Never Eat an Orange by a Balloon!

Is there any end to what we can do with an orange? If this article has you feeling hungry or just curious, head over to our store for some sweet, fresh Florida citrus.

Photo credits: 
Water bowl” by Aditi Jain (CC-BY-SA)
Mandarin Orange Battery” by G43 (CC-BY-SA)

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