DIY Science with Smithsonian Maker Lab

Science is one of the most exciting and thought-provoking subjects. However, it can be disheartening when the students are not as hyped up about the subject as the teacher thinks they could (or should) be. Topics like heat transfer, molecules, and electrical currents all have the potential to be engaging and fun activities for students to learn from. Finding the right method or lesson that will make it easy for young learners to grasp even the most confusing concepts is a challenge, but it is far from impossible.

The Smithsonian Maker Lab book bridges the gap between scientific ideas and true understanding. Check out the projects we tried ourselves and find out if they’re a good fit for your students!


Students can create this kaleidoscope in order to gain a better understanding of the reflection of light and angles. The entire project takes roughly 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how much time you want to dedicate to decorating.

This activity is great for introducing students to how the human eye works, how light is received through the kaleidoscope, and ultimately, how the human eye sees the design and color produced.

Bath Fizzies

The goal of this project is to put an acid-base reaction into the spotlight. Putting together the actual fizzies is easy, doesn’t create a huge mess, and takes about 15-20 minutes. The longest part of the process is waiting for the fizzies to harden, which takes about 2 days.

Once the fizzies are done, drop them in water while you talk with your class on what reactions are occurring to create the bubbles, scent, and color. As an added bonus, these fizzies can also be repurposed after the lesson as gifts for students’ families or loved ones!

Balloon Rocket Car

These cool cardboard creations are great for helping the class understand the power of air and wind. It also can double as an art project if you decide to have the students decorate their race cars. The entire process takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

Once the cars are finished, set them on the floor for racing, or create a unique track for them. Students will get a kick out of cheering on their air-propelled creations. They’ll be even more astounded when you explain how the cars are propelled forward using only air!

Science should be fun, and it’s up to educators to put a creative spin on even the most mundane concepts in order to help students expand their knowledge. Even the simplest scientific topics can be woven into memorable and fun activities that will solidify a child’s grasp on almost any lesson.

Find the Smithsonian Maker Lab at your local display!