On June 27th, 2019

4 Science Activities for $4 or Less

For many of us, the summer brings with it some extra free time, and that's the perfect time to sit down for some science exploration. In the spirit of scientific discovery, we've listed only the procedures to each experiment, but feel free to click the links in each one to learn more about the science in action—especially if you've already hypothesized, experimented, and observed first.

1. Capillary Action & Chromatography: All in a Coffee Filter

Coffee filters are perfect to test the limits of water's process known as capillary action.

Experiment 1:

1. Combine water in a cup with three drops of food coloring.

2. Cut a coffee filter into inch-wide strips.

3. Holding the top of one strip, dip its bottom edge into the colored water.

4. Does the water stay only where you've placed the coffee filter against it, or does it move? What in nature might use this same strength of water?

More on capillary action...

Experiment 2:

1. Cut a coffee filter into inch-wide strips.

2. Position the strip in a "portrait" orientation, taller than it is wide. Halfway up one strip, use a black marker to draw a horizontal line across your coffee filter.

3. Grab one end of the strip between your fingers, letting it hang vertically in the air.

4. Dip one end of the coffee filter strip into water. Lower it until the water line is just below your marker line, and then pull the strip out, holding it vertically in the air.

5. Watch as the water climbs past the line, and see which colors climb with it. What's happening to the ink?

More ways to explore chromatography...

2. Dissect a Seed

Did you know that every bean you eat is also a seed? Because of this, any bean that is available not dried (kidney beans, garbanzo beans) are all prime candidates for dissection.
1. Use your fingers to skin the bean.

2. Gently split the bean in two along its natural seam.

3. See if you can tell which pieces protect it from the elements, which feed the growing plan, and where the plant itself will come from.

More on the anatomy of seeds...

3. What's in Your Air?

A perfect activity for spring or summer, when plant life is booming, pollen and seeds are spreading, and you want to learn more about what's floating through your local landscape.
1. Draw a circle on a sheet of paper.

2. Fill that circle in with a clear tacky substance, like petroleum jelly or Vaseline.

3. Hang the sheet outdoors, and check in a week to see what it's caught. Are any seeds migrating through the air? What particles did you most commonly catch? What about them makes them so susceptible to the wind—and for plants that evolved those traits, are there benefits?

More on wind for seed dispersal...

4. Baking Substitutions

Baking is, among other sciences, chemistry. Experiment with old tried and true substitutions like applesauce or unseasoned black beans in place of eggs to discover your favorite, or work in groups to discuss new ideas for what foods might work in place of milk, eggs, or oil and why. What properties do they have in common? How did the end products differ?

More on the science of baking...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



We host a variety of events here at the Discovery Center of Idaho: Young Discoverers, Adult Nights, and friendly challenges among members and frequent visitors. No matter the age or activity, we have a lot of fun and are certain we have something on our calendar sure to entertain and create lasting memories.

More Info



Do you love the Discovery Center? Do you want to support school field trips, in-house produced exhibitions, and STEM education in Idaho? Make a donation!

Your gift impacts every aspect of the Discovery Center. It boosts access for Idaho students, creates STEM educational opportunities, guarantees fresh exhibitions, delivers memorable learning, and inspires future career paths in STEM fields for Idaho’s next generation. Your financial support makes a galactic difference.

More Info



Discovery Center membership is a rewarding experience for you and your family. Become a member and attend sneak previews of our new exhibitions, receive discounts on camps and birthday parties, and enjoy the Discovery Center every day of the year.

Join today and become part of our community. Together, we can achieve our mission to inspire lifelong interest and learning in STEM.

More Info


  • Discovery Center of Idaho
    Main Office
    (208) 343-9895


  • General Inquiries:

    Membership Information:


  • Discovery Center of Idaho
    131 W. Myrtle Street
    Boise, Idaho 83702


  • Sun: 12pm - 5pm
    Mon: 10am - 5pm
    Tues: 10am - 5pm
    Wed: 10am - 5pm
    Thurs: 10am - 5pm
    Fri: 10am - 5pm
    Sat: 10am - 5pm
    Closed: New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas


  • Members & Under 2 • Free*
    Youth 2-17 • $12
    Adults 18+ • $14
    Seniors • $13
    Military Personnel • $1 Off
    * Free admission during standard exhibitions & reduced admissions during special exhibitions

  • envelope-oclock-omap-markerphonedollar
    The Discovery Center of Idaho will be TEMPORARILY CLOSED to the public until further notice. Check back for updates.Learn More