This DIY rainbow water bead lava lamp experiment will wow your kids! After you play with water beads, use them to learn the chemical reaction between sodium bicarbonate and water.
Water beads are so fun to play with and they make excellent sensory play material. My kids love watching them grow and then bouncing them around everywhere. After making sure that the water beads won’t go down the drain, my kids even added them to the bathtub and spent the next hour scooping them up with their hands.
If you are looking for an activity to do with water beads, here is a good one! The rainbow water bead lava lamp is an easy and fun science experiment that you can do even with preschoolers.
My kids get so excited whenever we do lava lamp experiments because they love watching the bubbles! And doing them with rainbow colored water beads make the lava lamp so pretty and mesmerizing. After you are done with observing the chemical reaction, you can glue the cap on the bottle and use it as a soothing calm down jar.
DIY Water Bead Lava Lamp Experiment
- Water beads
- Tall glass jar or VOSS water bottle
- Alka-Seltzer tablets
1. Grow your water beads! It will take at least 5-6 hours if not overnight for them to get nice and plump, so plan ahead of time.
2. Add the water beads to the jar or water bottle. We like using the VOSS water bottle because you don’t need to worry about your child breaking a glass jar.
3. Fill the water bottle until about 3/4 full with water.
4. Break up the Alka-Seltzer tablest into halves. You can also keep the tablet whole for a quicker and more dramatic effect.
5. Drop the tablets one piece at a time into the bottle. What do you see happening?
6. Continue to add Alka-Seltzer tablets to the bottle and watch the water beads dance!
Isn’t it so fun to make the water beads go up and down? I hope you have a lot of Alka-Seltzer tablets around the house because your kids are going to ask you to do this over and over again!
I just want to note that you want to monitor your kids carefully during this science experiment and make sure that they wash their hands right after touching the Alka-Seltzer tablets. You don’t want them to ingest any aspirin!
If you don’t feel safe using Alka-Seltzer tablets, especially if you are doing this in a classroom with students, then you can use vinegar and baking soda instead. Check out the dancing raisins experiment for more details. Do note that the reaction between baking soda and vinegar won’t be as strong as the Alka-Seltzer tablets and water but they should still get the water beads moving.
Science Behind the Water Bead Lava Lamp
Alka-Seltzer tablets contain sodium bicarbonate and citric acid. When you add Alka-Seltzer tablet to water, an instantaneous chemical reaction occurs. As the result, a gas called carbon dioxide is released and attempts to escape the container by floating upwards.
The bubbles full of carbon dioxide cling on to the water beads and carry them to the top of the water bottle. When the bubbles pop, the water beads fall back down to the bottom of the bottle.
You can do this experiment with various objects as long as they are not too heavy for the bubbles. But rainbow water beads are our favorite to use for this experiment because they are so colorful!