Three Experiments to Freak Out (& Impress) Your Family (& Friends) Over the Holidays

Are you looking forward to some free time over the holidays? Or does that sound boring? Well, fear not—the other day I happened upon a middle school activities page with a lot of interesting science experiments. If you’re looking for a way to freak out members of your family (or just want to see what you can learn) over the holidays, here’s three things with a lot of potential to blow the minds of your family and friends . . .

Winter landscape reflected in bulb with snowflakes by geralt at
Winter landscape reflected in bulb with snowflakes by geralt at

Number 1 – The Moldy Bread Experiment

Yup. From personal experience, I know that moldy bread freaks out my family. What I did not know when reading about Jessica McBrayer’s Bread Mold Experiment was that the people of ancient Egypt, Greece, and India used to put poultices of moldy bread over wounds to help prevent infection. That’s because mold—which was used to develop penicillin—works like an antibiotic. And mold spores can be found practically everywhere.

So how do you make them grow? And just where will they grow best? That’s where McBrayer’s experiment comes in.

Take 3 pieces of bread and seal each one up tight in a resealable plastic bag along with a little bit of water. Then, put one in the back of the refrigerator, hide one in a dark place (maybe the back corner of your closet?), and stick the third one in a warm sunny place. Now is the hardest part. You have to wait.

Preferably, you can have all this bread tucked away for several days before anyone starts arriving for Christmas. I’ll leave it up to you to pick the perfect time to pull out all the pieces of bread and show everyone what happened. Hopefully, you remembered to label which one was which so you can compare the different kinds of mold that grew in the different types of places.

red and white colored soda pop can by ClkerFreeVectorImages at
Soda pop can by ClkerFreeVectorImages at

Number 2Crunch the Can Experiment

Can water and air crunch a can? The answer is yes, and with Lori Stewart’s amazing Can Crusher Experiment, you can amaze your family and friends.

You’ll have to prepare a little bit for this experiment—I hope you’re not opposed to drinking a can of soda pop so you’ll have an empty can to start with? (You should remove the tab, too.) You’ll also need a big bowl of ice water, a pan, a stove, a pair of tongs, and just a little bit more water to put inside the can. You also might want to rinse the can out before the experiment.

Step 1 – Place the pan on the stove, then put just enough water inside your empty can to cover the bottom and stand it in the pan, turning the burner up high enough to make the water boil.

Step 2 – When the water inside the can boils, turn off the heat to the stove, and use the tongs to grab the can. Move it over the bowl of ice cold water, then extra-fast, turn the can upside down, and submerge it in the bowl of ice cold water.

Step 3 – Using the tongs, lift the can up out of the water (be sure it is still upside down) and see what happens . . .

Did you see the same things that Lori Stewart describes in her Can Crushing Experiment???

3 white candles and 1 blue candle, all lit with burning flames by obsidianphotography at
Four lit candles by obsidianphotography at

Number 3Vanishing Flame Experiment

Everyone knows that you can blow a candle out—and that’s basically just air—but what if the air isn’t blowing? Can it still extinguish candle flames? Esther Inglis-Arkell knows of a way you can dump a pitcher full of air on candles to make them go out—and this one is sure to freak out your family and friends. Of course you’ll need some lit candles to extinguish; you’ll also need a pitcher to fill with some carbon dioxide.

. . . And if you don’t have any carbon dioxide handy? Just make some. Put a bit of baking soda in the bottom of your pitcher and add a little vinegar. When it starts fizzing up, swirl it around to help release the carbon dioxide, and cover the top of the pitcher to make sure the carbon dioxide stays inside. When you’re ready to amaze everyone by pouring this pitcher full of air over all the candles and see the flames disappear, uncover your pitcher and pour away. It will look like the candles are going out all by themselves.

On second thought, this last experiment is spooky enough, you may want to save it for next Halloween instead of Christmas and New Year’s. Or maybe, your family and friends won’t remember that long and you can amaze them all over again.

Snowman with light blue gloves, cap and scarf, and big orange nose
Snowman in winter snow by klimkin at

Either way, have a very Merry Christmas and a supremely Happy New Year!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂


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