Science activities from Heureka
We are presenting some scientific projects and experiments from Heureka the Finnish Science Centre. You can learn about chemistry laboratory activities, mineral study, water analysis and more.
1. Bubbling Chemistry
“Bubbling chemistry” is generally the first activity for primary school groups. In the “Bubbling chemistry” activity at Heureka, guests produce Science Centre Lemonade. The activity’s purpose is to provide even the youngest of students with the opportunity to try laboratory experiments using the correct tools and materials, and to give them their first exposure to the field of chemical research by learning about substances, properties and reactions.
More about the chemistry activity (download the full description of the activity in pdf)
2. Colourful chemistry
The purpose of this project is to familiarise students with acids and alkaline substances. Students make an acid/alkaline indicator with red cabbage and classify familiar household chemicals using the indicator they have made. Acid/alkaline indicators, more commonly called pH indicators, denote the existence of acidity or alkalinity, and the approximate acidity of a substance. The indicator works such that when the pH value changes, the colour of the compound also changes. The colour changes because the molecule structure of the substance changes. The different molecule structure absorbs and reflects light in a different way causing us to see different colours.
More about the colourful chemistry activity (download the full description of the activity in pdf)
3. Extracting DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), is a double-stranded giant molecule, which contains base pairs, ribose sugars and phosphoric acids. The bases are arranged in set of three – each set of three bases represents a particular amino acid. Amino acids combine to produce proteins in the cell. A set length of DNA, or gene, is, therefore, an instruction to produce a protein. DNA can easily be extracted from many living organisms and tissues. In this activity, first we break the cell structure by breaking down the cell and nuclear membranes. Using enzymes, proteins and insoluble carbohydrates are broken down and precipitated from the solution. The last step is to use alcohol in order to precipitate the DNA from the water solution, and to gather the DNA for study.
More about the DNA activity (download the full description of the DNA activity in pdf)
4. Rock examination
Before we begin to study minerals, let's first consider why it is useful to identify minerals. The earth's crust contains many different natural resources that benefit humankind.
Among the most valued are the ore minerals, such as iron, titanium, copper, nickel, cobalt and zinc. Along with metallic minerals, the earth's crust is quarried for raw materials that are used as building materials or in the fertilizer and chemical industries. The value of extracting these industrial minerals exceeds the value of extracting metallic minerals. Industrial minerals include limestone, apatite and talc. The mineral rock can also be used as building stone or in jewellery. Heureka's mineral study utilises the same types of tools that rock enthusiasts and geologists use when they study the terrain in search of interesting rocks.
Everyone will do nearly the same studies with the same equipment. The age group division is based on two issues: the number of minerals to be studied and the extent and depth of information on the topic.
Preschool groups and pupils aged up to 7 years old will only study three minerals; magnetite, quartz and iron pyrite (fool's gold). These groups have their own programme that does not include UV light testing, since none of the mentioned minerals is fluorescent.
More about the rock examination activity (download the full description of the rock examination activity in pdf)
5. Water analysis
Water is one of the fundamental elements of life, and all living things could not survive without it. In nature, water is found everywhere. The majority of the earth's water is in the oceans. Water with a low salt content, fresh water, is vital for humans and animals. A human being can live off the stored nutrients in the body for several weeks without eating, but only a few days without water.
In this study, the students bring water samples with them. The study is more fun if the water samples are from different sources, such as tap water, lake water, river water, rainwater and/or melted snow. There are separate instructions on how to gather a water sample.
More about the Water analysis activity (download the full description of the water analysis activity in pdf)
Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre, works for advancing public understanding of science. Heureka is part of the Pencil project and it is running a Pencil pilot project on Chemistry for Primary Schools
To read more about Heureka and its Pencil pilot project:
To read more about Pencil: