DIY for kids: Why wash hands to fight coronavirus and other science activities to try

Let us make our lockdown experience fascinating by doing the following activities.

By Meenambika Menon

In these uncertain times when each one of us is experiencing a mixed feeling of boredom and confusion, we can try to use our time to find out interesting facts. Let us make our lockdown experience fascinating by doing the following activities.

Activity 1

Sun rises in the east and sets in the west…is this true?

We have studied that the sun rises in the east direction. Have you ever wondered if this statement was true? If we rewrite this statement as, the sun appears to rise in the east direction, will that be completely true?

Yes, the sun appears to rise and set as it is our planet Earth which is rotating on its own axis. But still the question exists, does the sun appear to rise in the east direction?

Let us do an activity to find out. For this you will require just a notepad and a pencil.

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Steps to do:

1. Get up early in the morning, preferably, before sunrise.

2. Go to your terrace or an open space from where you can see the sunrise or see the sun at 30 degrees from the horizon.

3. Note the position of the Sun with respect to a stationery thing, may be a pole, a tree, a pillar or a water tank etc. You can also note the position of the Sun during the sunset in the same manner.

4. Repeat this activity daily till we are under the lockdown i.e for three weeks.

What did you observe?

Is the sun rising from the same position every day? If not in which direction is the position shifting? Will this position shift forever or will it reverse? Have you heard of Uttarayan and Dakshinayan? Can you relate these terms to your observation?

The sun’s rising point changes slightly every day. At the summer solstice (June 21st this year) it rises at its most north-eastern point. After that, it continues to move further south, until the winter solstice (December 21st this year) when it’s at its most south-eastern point.

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Activity 2

Why wash hands to fight coronavirus

Why is washing your hands regularly with soap advised to stay away from getting infected by the corona virus.

For this activity you will require:

Full cream milk in a medium sized shallow bowl

Two to three different liquid food colours.

An earbud

Soap solution

Steps to do:

1. Take a shallow bowl and fill it with full cream milk.

2. Add one drop each of the two to three different liquid food colours in the centre of the milk in the bowl. (You can use turmeric, ink, potassium permanganate etc. also).

3. Dip the earbud in the soap solution and touch the food colour drops in the milk.

What do you observe?

The food colour will split apart in every direction, making a beautiful pattern. Why do you think this happens?

The soap solution rips apart the fat molecules of the milk and hence you see the food colour moving apart with the fat molecules.

The same principle is applied in case of prevention of the corona virus. Corona virus or any virus is encased in a layer of fat and soaps break the fat apart and leave the virus incapable of infecting. Hence the most effective way of staying healthy is to keep washing your hands with soap regularly.

You can also dip a butter-paper in the milk and spread food colour and get a pattern printed on the paper. Dry the paper and frame it.

Activity 3

Water from roots to leaves

Have you ever wondered that how water reaches the leaves at the top of tall trees like coconut or eucalyptus etc?

For this activity you will require:

Three transparent glass jars

Two paper towels/Tissue papers


Food colour

Steps to do:

1. Line up the three transparent jars. Fill the first and the third jars,on either end, about three fourth with water. Add food coloring to the water in these two jars. Whatever color you use is up to you, but the effect works best if the two colors combine to make a third color. If you do not have food colour add ink in one and turmeric in the other jar.

2. Fold a paper towel or tissue lengthwise in three to four layers. Place one end of the folded paper in one of the jars filled with colored water by making sure that the end is immersed in the water. Let the other end hang into the empty container. Repeat the same with the second tissue in the second jar with coloured water.

3. Leave the setup for three to four hours. Check them after every hour. What do you observe? Something like this in the following image?

How do you think this happened?

Paper towels/tissues are highly porous. These pores function like tiny tubes or capillaries to soak or pull up water. Adhesion and cohesion are the two properties acting here. Due to the property of adhesion water molecules are attracted to the walls of the capillaries and “stick” to them. And due to the cohesive property, water molecules stick to each other. Together, these two properties allow the water to “travel” along the paper towel against gravity, moving out of one jar to the other.

In trees/plants also, water is transported from roots to the tips of the leaves through these properties. Xylem tissues in plants act as the capillaries. One more process enhance this process and that is transpiration. The water transpires through the openings called stomata on the leaves creating a partial vacuum hence pulling the water up.

Enjoy doing these activities!

(The author is Lead, Curriculum – Science & Math, Shiv Nadar School)

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