20 5th Grade Science Projects That Will Blow Your Students’ Minds

Make a leakproof bag, invisible ink, and more!

5th Grade Science Projects

We love doing science at the upper elementary level because 10- and 11-year-olds are so naturally curious and ready to learn about the world. These 5th grade science projects are great for whole-class experimentation or as a science fair project. Go ahead and give them a try!

1. Make your own bouncy balls.

Show the science behind one of the most common toys.

WeAreTeachers Bouncy Balls

What you need:

  • glue
  • cornstarch
  • borax
  • lukewarm water
  • food coloring
  • a heavy spoon (one that won’t bend easily)
  • measuring spoons
  • two plastic containers (old margarine tubs work well)
  • a zip-top plastic baggie
  • a permanent marker
  • a clock
  • a ruler

What you do: Mix together the ingredients in the order outlined in the directions (see link below) and watch how the balls harden when different ingredients are added.

What students learn about: polymers and the science behind them.

Source: Education.com


2. Make a crystal snowflake.

Discover the science behind making crystals and have fun decorations for the classroom, too.

WeAreTeachers Crystal Snowflake

What you need:

  • a length of string
  • one or two pipe cleaners (any color)
  • scissors
  • a wide-mouth jar
  • boiling water
  • borax (6–9 teaspoons)
  • a spoon or stirrer
  • a pencil
  • food coloring (optional)

What you do: Make snowflake shapes out of the pipe cleaners and suspend them with a string attached to the lid of a jar. Add boiling water to the jar. Then add borax. Place the “snowflakes” in the jar and let them sit in the classroom undisturbed (about a day) while the crystals form.

What students learn about: how molecules form crystals.

Source: eGFI


3. Learn to layer liquids.

Understand the meaning behind the phrase “getting along like oil and water” in this experiment that shows how some liquids do not mix well together.

What you need:

  • a tall, clear cup
  • plastic cups
  • water
  • rubbing alcohol
  • a turkey baster
  • Dawn dish soap (blue)
  • honey
  • light corn syrup
  • blue food coloring
  • vegetable oil

What you do: Slowly layer the liquids in order of density (most dense liquids first) and watch as they don’t mix.

What students learn about: density

Source: Education.com


4. Recreate the “magic” leakproof bag.

Wow your class with this “magic” trick that will leave them wondering how it works.

Leakproof Bag

What you need:

  • five sharpened pencils
  • a zipper-lock plastic bag (quart-size works well)
  • water
  • paper towels

What you do: Fill the bag about halfway with water and close it. Carefully push each pencil through one side of the bag, making sure not to push them all the way through the other side. After inserting all of the pencils, turn over the bag.

What students learn about: the chemistry of polymers

Source: Steve Spangler Science


5. Experiment with dry ice.

You’ll look like a real mad scientist with these bubbling and foaming science projects involving dry ice.

WeAreTeachers dry ice

What you need:

  • dry ice (check your local grocery store)
  • heavy-duty gloves for handling dry ice
  • a hammer
  • safety glasses
  • dish soap
  • a graduated cylinder
  • warm water
  • apple juice
  • a two-liter bottle
  • a funnel
  • rubber or plastic tubing
  • a utility blade
  • two small (2 oz.) plastic cups
  • a towel
  • a pair of cotton gloves for handling bubbles
  • food coloring (optional)

What you do: Click on the link below for a number of science projects and examples showing how to use dry ice and how dry ice interacts with different elements.

What students learn about: the effects of dry ice

NOTE: All of these experiments require adult supervision.

Source: My Kids Adventures


6. Make a balloon self-inflate.

This simple science project illustrates the relationship between acids and bases.

What you need:

  • a test tube
  • vinegar
  • a small balloon
  • a funnel
  • one teaspoon of baking soda

What you do: Fill a test tube (or water bottle) with vinegar. Using the funnel, pour baking soda into the balloon, shaking the baking soda toward the bottom as you go. Attach the balloon to the top of the bottle or test tube and allow the baking soda to fall into the vinegar. Watch the balloon inflate.

What students learn about: mixing acids and bases

Source: Education.com


7. Learn which food will rot first.

Though interesting to watch, this one might make stomachs churn.

WeAreTeachers food rot

What you need:

  • an orange
  • milk
  • bread
  • cheese
  • test tubes

What you do: Place a bit of each food inside a test tube. Hypothesize which food will rot first and observe over the next few days, recording your observations.

What students learn about: observation, food preservation

Source: No Time for Flash Cards


8. Find out if a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s.

Settle an age-old debate with this science project.

WeAreTeachers dog mouth experiment

What you need:

  • dog saliva (from different breeds)
  • human saliva
  • cotton swabs
  • petri dishes
  • an incubator
  • a microscope

What you do: Collect the saliva (from both humans and canines) with cotton swabs and place each sample in labeled petri dishes in the incubator. Check the bacterial colonies in each and compare the results.

What students learn about: using the scientific method to test a hypothesis.

Source: Sciencing


9. Build a solar oven.

Cook food without a stove or oven with this experiment.

What you need:

  • a cardboard pizza box
  • a pencil
  • a ruler
  • a box cutter or scissors
  • aluminum foil
  • clear tape
  • black construction paper
  • plastic wrap
  • newspapers
  • an oven mitt
  • a dish or pie plate
  • cooking ingredients (like those for s’mores or nachos)

What you do: Use the materials and follow the directions (see link below) to make your oven.

What students learn about: solar energy

Source: Education.com


10. Study water filtration and pollution.

See the process of water purification firsthand.

What you need:

  • two glass jars
  • sand
  • gravel
  • three or four coffee filters
  • dirty water
  • a plastic cup with a hole cut in the bottom

What you do: Layer the coffee filters on the bottom of the cup. Add sand and gravel. Place the cup in an empty jar. Then pour the dirty water into the cup.

What students learn about: the effects of water pollution, how to filter water for drinking

Source: Teach Beside Me


11. Study the effects of caffeine on plant growth.

Does caffeine help plants get a boost, too?

mung bean sprouts grow on black soil in the white flowerpot isolate on black background

What you need: 

  • a packet of mung beans
  • three gardening pots
  • soil
  • gardening utensils
  • tap water
  • caffeine tablets
  • coffee powder
  • two beakers
  • a measuring cylinder
  • a digital scale
  • a black marker

What you do: Plant some beans in each pot. Water one plant with regular tap water, one with caffeine tablets, and one with coffee powder and observe which one grows faster.

What students learn about: whether caffeine accelerates the growth of plants.

Source: Education.com


12. Learn which soda cans sink.

Some cans float and some cans sink. Why?

What you need: 

  • a large bucket or container
  • water
  • unopened soda cans (some regular and some diet)

What you do: Fill a large bucket with water and place the cans (at an angle) into the water. Observe which ones sink and which ones float.

What students learn about: density, artificial sweeteners vs. sugar

Source: Cool Science Experiments Headquarters


13. Make “spy-grade” invisible ink.

Kids will love trying to swap secret messages with their friends in this fun science project.

What you need:

  • baking soda
  • paper
  • water
  • a light bulb (or other heat source)
  • a paintbrush or cotton swab
  • a measuring cup
  • purple grape juice (optional)

What you do: Mix the water and baking soda. Using a paintbrush or cotton swab, write a message on a piece of paper. Use the light bulb or grape juice to make the words become visible.

What students learn about: acid and base relationships

Source: ThoughtCo


14. Light(ning) it up indoors.

Who wouldn’t want have a mini-lightning storm in their classroom?

What you need:

  • a rubber glove
  • a plastic fork
  • tin foil
  • a wood or plastic cutting board
  • a Styrofoam plate or rubber balloon
  • hair or wool

What you do: Place foil around the fork and then, while wearing the rubber glove, rub the plate or balloon on the hair or wool. Place the plate/ballon on the cutting board and use the fork to touch the plate/balloon.

What students learn about: static electricity

NOTE: If possible, conduct this experiment on a cool, low-humidity day (< 45% humidity, < 75°F temperature). 

Source: Education.com


15. Learn about heating convection in liquids.

How does temperature affect the molecules in water?

What you need: 

  • a clear container or jar that can hold about one quart of liquid
  • water
  • a freezer
  • a coffee mug or other container that can withstand heat
  • blue food coloring
  • a spoon
  • a dropper

What you do: Put a container of water in the freezer for 15 minutes. Pour hot water into the coffee mug and add food coloring. Using the dropper, add the colored hot water to the cold water and observe what happens.

What students learn about: thermal energy, kinetic energy, convection

Source: Education.com


16. Launch your own bottle rocket.

Blast off with a few ingredients and a little help from science.

What you need: 

  • an empty plastic bottle
  • cardboard made into a cone and four fins
  • a cork
  • a pump with a needle adaptor
  • water

What you do: Push the needle all the way through the cork, fill the bottle 1/4 with water. Attach the cardboard cone and fins to the bottle. Pump air into the bottle and watch out!

What students learn about: the laws of motion

Source: Science Sparks


17. Watch a plant grow its way out of a maze.

This fun science project shows how plants grow toward the sun.

What you need:

  • a shoebox
  • cardboard
  • scissors
  • tape
  • a small potted plant (e.g. a bean plant)

What you do: Cut the cardboard pieces to make two shelves on different sides of the shoebox, creating a “maze.” Cut a square in the top of the box for the sun to shine through. Place the plant on the bottom of the box and tape the box shut.

What students learn about: phototropism

Source: Plants for Kids


18. Use Mentos and diet soda to build your own Old Faithful.

Create a wild soda geyser with this messy science project.

What you need:

  • a roll or box of mint-flavored Mentos
  • a two-liter bottle of diet soda (regular soda will work, but it is stickier than diet)
  • a piece of paper

What you do: In a grassy area (if possible) carefully open the soda bottle, making sure that it will not tip over. Add all of the mints at the same time and watch the geyser spray!

What students learn about: gas molecules, surface tension

Source: Parenting


19. Find out the best way to keep an apple from spoiling.

Investigate which types of food wrappers will keep sliced apples fresher longer.

What you need: 

  • four apples of the same variety
  • a cutting board
  • a knife
  • aluminum foil
  • wax paper
  • plastic wrap
  • three sealable plastic bags
  • graph paper

What you do: Cut each apple in half. Place each half inside of a different wrapper and put in the refrigerator. Observe and record how long each apple stays fresh and which wrapper keeps the apple fresh the longest.

What students learn about: oxidization, enzymes

Source: Science Buddies


20. Determine if you get your fingerprints from your parents.

Use this fun experiment to find out if fingerprint patterns are hereditary.

What you need: 

  • white printer paper
  • tracing or parchment paper
  • a pencil
  • clear tape
  • scissors
  • plain white paper
  • sibling pairs (at least 15)
  • unrelated pairs of people (at least 15)
  • a magnifying glass (optional)
  • a lab notebook (optional)

What you do: Using the pencils and parchment paper, create your own ink pad. Fingerprint your pairs, labeling each pattern. Observe and compare the fingerprint patterns of the siblings and the unrelated pairs.

What students learn about: genetic inheritance

Source: Science Buddies


What are your favorite 5th grade science projects? Please share in the comments and we’ll add to this list.


Posted by Crystal Rennicke

Crystal Rennicke is a writer, Sunday School teacher and mom of two. Since most of her family members are teachers, she has an appreciation and admiration for all teachers in her life.

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