How to organise a science themed children's party
Explosions, gooey stuff and plenty of thrills – a science themed birthday party will appeal to almost all children. Find out what you need to make it go with a BANG!
Give a clue to your theme with scientific invites.
- Print the invitations on graph paper to make them look like an official lab report.
- Roll up the invites and fit them into test tubes – preferably made of plastic – before handing them out.
Deck the party room with scientific paraphernalia to set the scene
- Spell out the birthday child's name using the periodic table.
- Hang up educational posters and, if you have one, a whiteboard and pens for working out difficult problems – or writing birthday messages.
- Place beakers, measuring tubes etc around the room (or just different sized plastic containers if you don't have anything 'official') and fill them with water tinted with food colouring to create different 'solutions'.
- Aqua beads look feasibly scientific piled in a bowl (and are fun for kids to poke around in).
- Use coloured balloons to represent the planets of the solar system – add cardboard to make Saturn's rings.
- Tie bio-hazard tape across the front door, or use in place of streamers.
Suggest that your guests let out their inner mad scientist for the occasion with whacky costume options.
- Print out name tags, and get guests to customise them – perhaps with a fun scientific moniker.
- An old, oversized white shirt can become a lab coat (and can be chucked if it gets stained during experiments).
- You can also buy cheap disposable white overalls – for a pleasing investigative feel.
- Safety glasses offer an authentic look (and necessary eye protection, of course) and are also a fun souvenir from the day.
Activities and games
Tell your guests you need their help to conduct some experiments – then let the mess begin! Do as much as possible outside, or far away from precious objects and soft furnishings.
- Make your own slime. There are a million different ways to make this gooey stuff, but it's always a crowd-pleaser. Starting from a base of PVA glue and liquid starch, add paint, glitter, food colouring – whatever you like.
- Watch a volcanic explosion. even if kids have seen it before, this is always exciting. Add bicarbonate of soda to vinegar – and food colouring or paint if you want to make it a colourful explosion.
- Bring jelly snakes to life. A wriggly variation on the classic bicarb and vinegar reaction. Soak a few jelly snakes (it works best if you cut them into thin slices first) in a solution of bicarbonate soda for 15 minutes. Add them to a glass of vinegar and watch them wriggle!
- Play with non-Newtonian fluid. Get ready for some proper science. A non-Newtonian fluid's viscosity is dependent on shear rate or shear rate history – or to put it in simpler terms, when you poke it it's hard, when you don't poke it, it's runny. To make, mix cornflower with water until it forms a thin paste, the consistency of single cream. Then prod to your heart's content.
- Explode some soap. Place a bar of ivory soap (it must be ivory) on a microwavable plate, and put it in the microwave on high for a minute. Get the kids to watch as it erupts – afterwards they can play with the crumbling, expanded soap.
- Make mini lava lamps. “Fill jars half with coloured water, and half with oil. Wait for the liquids to separate out, then drop in a fizzing tablet (we use Vitamin C). Put lid on and watch.”
- Split the atom . If some of these activities sound complicated, this one is very simple. Tie a balloon around your ankle – you have to try to burst others' balloons whilst protecting yours.
- Musical planets. Everyone knows musical chairs but, at a science-themed party, it becomes musical planets. The kids have to float around space while the music is playing, but when the music stops, their oxygen is cut off – quick, land on a planet!
- Jelly bean test. If you want an activity that doesn't involve mess or running around – conduct a very scientific jelly bean taste test. Blindfold each child in turn, and get them to try and guess the flavour of different sweeties.
Set out all the food buffet-style, and label it as specimens. Give each child an aluminum tray and tell them they need to collect samples for testing (of course, all the best testing is done via eating).
- Ancient fossilised remains – cut sandwiches and pizza slices out using a dinosaur-shaped cookie cutter.
- Scientific celery – cut celery stalks and set them in glasses of water tinted with food colouring. Let the stalks soak up the coloured water. Then remove them from the glasses, and serve with cream cheese or peanut butter.
- Fallen meteors – hot arancini , with a molten metal cheese centre.
- Space dust sundaes – ice cream topped with popping candy.
- Lab rats and frogs – chocolate or sugar mice or freddo frogs.
- Cloud jelly – layer blue jelly with squirty cream in a jar.
- Powdered chemicals – sherbet served in measuring cups.
- Make your own molecules – join grapes or marshmallows together with cocktail sticks.
- Toxic chemical cupcakes – fill cheap oral syringes with brightly coloured icing, then let the kids decorate plain cupcakes with them.
No birthday party is complete without cake.
A simple sponge cake baked in a circular tin gives you loads of options: use blue and green royal icing to ice the cake like a world globe – or, it could be an atom, a meteor, a plasma ball – the only limit is what you can do with a piping bag. (check links)
If you're after a simpler bake – serve your guest a slice of the cosmos with this Starry Rocky Road.
What to put in the party bags
A bit of creative labelling plus a clear sandwich bag means you can give your guest an authentic souvenir. Specimens could include:
- Horrible Science book
- Fizzing eyeballs – bath bombs will do the trick, just draw on them in felt-tip to look like eyes.
- Magnifying glass
- Test tube full of sweets
- Toy compass or telescope
- Scientific samples – chocolate Freddo frogs, mice and sweety bugs to dissect
You can also send everyone home with any of the experiments they made – decant the slime into individual plastic pots, crumble a bit of the exploded soap into an envelope (it will still work in the bath) and give each child their own mini lava lamp.