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100+ labs, activities, and science experiments for middle and high school students

Updated: Mar 6

Looking for fun and engaging lab ideas for use in your science class? You've come to the right place. Here's my list of practical activities and experiments you can try with your students, all in one place.

science experiments laboratory test tubes


I've been teaching MYP science (grades 6-10) internationally for over a decade. I try to devote about a third of my class time to experimental activities, which means we do a lot of labs. I'm also the only lab technician at my current school, so I'm responsible for set-up and cleanup as well. Needless to say, I've accumulated quite a bit of experience in the lab and can confidently recommend all of the following experiments. I have personally tried all of them with my students and in most cases have been conducting them for years.

Where can I get these labs?

Although I have provided links to just about every activity on my list, some are much better than others. You will often need to adjust them significantly for your classroom depending on the classes and number of students you teach, as well as the materials you have access to. Additionally, free lab guides usually do not include much in the way of background info, student questions or handouts, and teacher prep notes. For these reasons, I've created my own resources for most of the labs I do, which I'm currently in the process of uploading to my TPT store. You can access my complete experimental resource collection here. I'm adding new experiments regularly, but early purchasers will have access to all future activities at no additional cost! As you can see from the list below, I have quite a few more to add! Links to my individual lab activities have also been provided in the relevant sections.

The following list of experiments is organized by grade and unit. Click on the links below to jump to the section you need.

Grade 6

Grade 7

Grade 8

Grade 9

Grade 10

You can also access unit plan outlines for each of the above units in my store.


List of Experiments

Grade 6

Scientific Method

1. Memory experiments - How many random words or objects can students memorize? Will students be able to identify a missing object (or classmate)? How reliable is eyewitness testimony? These are excellent activities for getting students to practice basic experimental design, as well as practical skills like collecting and analyzing data. As a bonus, many of these experiments require virtually no prep for you!

accuracy and precision target experiment

2. Accuracy and precision experiment - For this activity, all you need is a target and something that will stick to it. I've used a dart board, NERF guns with suction cup darts, or just a target drawn on the whiteboard with magnetic disks to throw at it. You could even make a target on the ground outside and have your students toss beanbags at it. Anything will do! Students take turns hurling things at the targets and recording the distance to the middle. Then they analyze the results in terms of accuracy (average distance to the center) and precision (range, standard deviation, and the number of decimal places).

myp science experiment grade 6 scientific method baking science

3. Baking science experiment - I've long been a fan of incorporating food science into science class. What better way to get kids excited about chemistry while also learning a useful life skill? I've done many versions of this activity, but it always involves baking something, like cookies or cakes, by modifying a recipe to learn about variables. There are also many opportunities here for unit conversion practice.

Chemical and Physical Changes

candle in jar oxygen experiment

4. Fire triangle oxygen experiment - For younger students who may not have had access to open flames before, this is a good place to start for developing safe handling practices. Students use candles and various glass containers to measure how long a flame will burn in a limited oxygen environment. You might as well demonstrate the rising water trick too since you're using all the same materials.

5. Bunsen burner temperature experiment - Students learn how the Bunsen burner works and attempt to find out what part of the flame is hottest. You'll need a temperature probe rated for high temperatures in order to get accurate data for this lab. Alternatively, you can just use a thin steel rod or a nail by holding it in different parts of the flame and recording any colour changes. Try comparing the orange and blue flames, as well as the top, bottom, middle, and sides of the flame. Almost all students fail to predict where the hottest region will be!

fire extinguisher safety experiment

6. Fire extinguisher safety activity - You'll need to get some safety approvals for this one, but I think it's worth it. Who knows when you might have a real emergency to deal with? Go outside and start a simple fire in a safe place like a metal tray. Then use one of the school fire extinguishers to put it out. Have a few students try it, too. Discuss the locations of fire extinguishers, different types of fires, exit strategies, and so on. You may even want to coordinate with the local fire department and see if they can send someone to talk to the students about fire safety.

flask lab glassware identification quiz

7. Lab equipment identification quiz - Another one for younger students who are just beginning to do lab work. Collect one piece of glassware or lab equipment for each student in your class (with a few extra, just in case). Put one on each desk before your students arrive. As students come in, give them a blank piece of paper and have them write down the name of the equipment in front of them. Then rotate to the next seat and repeat. Set a timer for ~30 seconds to keep things moving. You may also want to get students to draw the equipment as well, in which case they would need a bit of extra time. This works best as a review activity, but it can also be used as a chance to see what students already know.

8. Oobleck states of matter activity - After students have learned about solids, liquids, and gases, whip up a batch of oobleck (cornstarch + water) and have them explore its properties. Is it a solid, a liquid, or a bit of both? Have your students consider the particle interactions going on in this unusual fluid. A bit of research may be required on their part.

sugar crystals rock candy experiment

9. Salt or sugar crystal lab - Students dissolve and then evaporate a very small volume of concentrated salt or sugar solution to produce crystals. I prefer salt since it is less of a sticky mess, but you can do one or both. Check out the crystals under the microscope and compare them to mineral crystals if you have some to observe. You can also use this lab as a chance to explore saturation and give a really cool supersaturation demo using sodium acetate. Just Google 'hot ice'!

10. Separating salt and sand mixtures experiment - Give students a sample containing salt, sand, and (optionally) iron filings. Then tell them to figure out how to separate each substance. This will involve a combination of magnetism, dissolving, filtration, evaporation, and so on. There is more than one way to accomplish this task, which is what makes it interesting. Add to the challenge by having students compare the mass of their sample to the total mass of each separated substance (you'll need to allow time for proper drying) to see who managed to preserve the most material. Discuss industrial and everyday applications of these separation techniques.

11. Diffusion of potassium permanganate - Another classic chemistry experiment that involves the movement of purple crystals as they dissolve in water. You can have students record the time it takes to produce a uniform solution and then compare this at different water temperatures or volumes. It's also useful to get your students to take photos, or better yet, videos of the process to compare.

dissolving cocoa hot chocolate experiment

12. Dissolving cocoa experiment - Students try to find the best way to dissolve a specific quantity of cocoa in order to make hot chocolate effectively. This is great for winter or during the holiday season, but as far as I'm concerned there's never a bad time for hot chocolate. Make this as open-ended as you can, but have students write down their reasoning and the method used. Is it better to use milk or water? Should you add the liquid first or the powder first? How does the temperature affect how easily the cocoa dissolves? Obviously, you wouldn't want to use typical chemistry glassware for this one, so plan ahead if you want to allow your students to drink their creations.

Characteristics of Living Things

13. Pond organisms microscope lab - Visit a local ecosystem and collect some water. It's better to get the 'chunky stuff' including mud, water plants, pond scum, and other organic material. Bring it back to the lab and have your students look for microorganisms under the microscope. With luck, you will be able to identify water fleas, vorticella, euglena, and other organisms in your samples. If you do this in the spring or summer, various insect larvae will likely be present as well.

human cheek cells microscope experiment

14. Specialized cells microscope lab - Sure, you can easily find prepared slides of specialized cells, but it's much more interesting for your students if they create their own. Collecting cheek cells is simple, and I think students get a kick out of seeing their own cells for the first time. Root hair cells and leaf cells are easy to locate as well, although the species you choose makes a huge difference. Try a few and see what works best.


15. Energy in food (calorimetry) experiment - I've found this lab to be notoriously difficult unless you have very good equipment, but it has the potential to produce lots of interesting results and is endlessly customizable for your students. The flexibility alone makes it worthwhile to try, even if the results don't end up being as useful as you'd hoped. Burning sugary or oily foods works best. Try potato chips or marshmallows.

comparing fuels alcohol burning experiment

16. Comparing fuels experiment - In this lab activity, students burn equal quantities of various fuels to determine which makes the best fuel. Alcohols including methanol, ethanol, and propanol should be easy enough to obtain. The experiment itself is pretty straightforward, but there are a lot of factors to consider. Which fuel burns the hottest? Which burns the longest? Which is the cheapest or easiest to obtain? What about other factors, such as the smell? There's a lot for students to explore here.

s'mores solar oven experiment

17. Design a solar oven - This is an excellent project for students to tackle that requires only a few simple craft and household supplies. As a summative assessment, students can make use of their physics knowledge to conduct, reflect, insulate, and ultimately cook simple foods. I prefer not to tell them the exact method so that they can find out what works and what doesn't. We like to make s'mores and cheese toast - things that are still delicious even if they don't cook properly!

18. Thermal conductivity experiment - This lab has many variations, but most involve comparing the ability of different metals to transfer heat. If you can find wires of equal diameter and length made of copper, steel, etc. then it is pretty easy to compare the conductivity of these substances by putting one end in hot water and then measuring the temperature along its length using a digital thermometer. Alternatively, put the other end of the wire in cold water and measure the temperature after a given amount of time. The warmest liquid should indicate the best conductor.

insulated hot drink experiment

19. Insulated drink experiment - This is a bit like the solar oven experiment, except that in this case, students are given a hot beverage and tasked with keeping it warm for as long as possible. Similar ideas and materials can be used, so it makes sense to do this as a follow-up experiment to that. Provide each group with a cup of boiled water and identical materials in order to make it a fair comparison. Then pop a thermometer in and see who has the warmest drink by the end of class.


myp science experiments grade 6 ecology measuring populations simulation

20. Mark-recapture simulation - This mathematical exercise involves students estimating a population's size by 'marking' and 'capturing' beans or other small objects from a container. Various sample sizes are used to show how accuracy improves with the number of marked and captured individuals. Then discuss how accurate mark-recapture studies would be for different populations in the wild.

21. Quadrat study - Using square frames, students collect data on the plant or invertebrate species found in a local environment (the school playground will do!). They can use this information to estimate population sizes and species distribution, but it can also be used to identify possible community interactions, including competition, mutualism, commensalism, and predation.

peanut butter jar mesocosm experiment

22. Mesocosm experiment - Students set up small ecosystems in jars or soda bottles to observe nutrient cycling in action. If done well they can last for years. I've tried aquatic ecosystems with fish in the past, but for ethical reasons, we pretty much stick to plants and soil organisms only these days. I also like to keep it simple and do everything in large peanut butter jars. It can get pretty elaborate if you decide to make full eco-columns though.

23. Personal impact experiment - This is an open-ended investigation where students decide on a lifestyle change they will maintain for a few weeks in order to reduce their environmental impact. This could include things like reducing shower time, air drying their clothes, biking to school instead of getting a ride, and so on. They then attempt to estimate the impact they are making in terms of environmental and economic savings, both for the project duration and for a lifetime, if they were to keep it up indefinitely. Although most students quickly fall back into their regular routines, a few do recognize that small changes are manageable and decide to make compromises in the way they live.

Earth and Space Science

scale solar system model

24. Solar system scale model - This is a mathematical/visual investigation that shows kids the true scale of the solar system (it's mostly empty space!). We usually do this on two different scales - one that allows us to fit the solar system within the classroom, and another that requires us to go outside and cover some distance on the playground. Even at that scale, the largest planets are still only the size of a small ball and the Earth is minuscule.

chocolate rock cycle diagram

25. Chocolate rock cycle - The rock cycle can be a bit dull and abstract considering the time scales and forces students are expected to imagine. Spice it up a little with the delicious addition of chocolate! Through mixing, grating, melting, hardening, and other processes, you can mimic most of the changes in the rock cycle and give students a clearer understanding of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rock formation. Yum!

26. Rock and mineral identification with dichotomous keys - Once students have a grasp of the rock cycle, it's time to get them familiar with some of the more common rocks and minerals. This can be done outdoors with field guides and cameras, or inside with samples and a dichotomous key. Even with a key this can be pretty challenging and there is quite a bit of terminology to understand, but I still think it's worthwhile. Some kids get really into it!

27. Flashlight moon phases activity - With a couple of balls, a flashlight, and a darkened room, you can put small groups of students to work trying to simulate the movements of the Sun, Earth, and Moon as they orbit around each other. It is pretty funny watching kids trying to move everything correctly and position themselves to see the phases properly, but I think it gets the concepts across quite well. You can also simulate eclipses, and if you're feeling really ambitious, you can get Mars involved and demonstrate retrograde motion.

Grade 7

Objects in Motion

28. Human body systems of measurement activity - I use this exercise to teach students about units and what they are based on. In ancient times, a lot of measurement standards were based on the distances between or across body parts, including the hand, fingers, and arms. Most of the metric units in use today are based on much more complicated standards, but it can be surprising for students to realize that measuring devices can't really be made without standards of some kind.

ptolemy's historic ancient map

29. Comparing ancient and modern maps - In the age of discovery (~1400-1600) a lot of early mapping was accomplished by Europeans. It wasn't all accurate, however, for a variety of reasons. This activity gives students a good crash course in cartography, which you might argue is more appropriate for geography and social studies, but it works well for this unit because it devotes a significant amount of time to understanding how we determine our location in space. Graphing using GPS coordinates is a significant part of this investigation.

gps mobile phone map pathway

30. GPS pathways activity - Since practically all of your students have access to an accurate GPS device of their own, this once-expensive activity is now easier than ever. You can use one of a handful of apps to track students as they walk various pathways around the schoolyard and elsewhere, which can then be analyzed and compared in terms of distance, time, acceleration, and changes in elevation. It can be particularly fun to compare the pathways students take to get to school. I couldn't find a good link for this activity, unfortunately.

31. Determining the acceleration of gravity using a pendulum - This lab always produces consistent results, provided students perform the calculations correctly. Since we use the acceleration of gravity so often in physics, I think it helps students to see that it can be determined with a relatively simple setup. Students will have only tiny pendulums to work with at their desks, but if you plan ahead, you can make a huge one that hangs from the ceiling to show that it works at larger scales, too.

Atoms and Elements

32. Metals and non-metals identification - Depending on what materials you have available, this can be a really great introduction to the periodic table of elements. Chances are your lab already has a good selection of metals, as well as some non-metals like carbon and sulfur. Provide small samples of each material and allow students to rotate to different stations where they attempt to identify the materials using some simple techniques (like magnetism). You can do this entirely visually if you like, or give some obscure facts about each element to help them out.

metal displacement reactions experiment

33. Metal displacement reactions experiment - Students observe whether reactions occur between pure metals and various salt solutions in order to create a simple reactivity series. It's reasonable to test four or five metals in order to introduce the concept, but you'll need to explain that very reactive and unreactive metals are not realistic to test in school due to prohibitive costs and safety concerns. The reactivity series can then be used to discuss why certain metals are chosen for particular uses and why precious metals are so valuable and long-lasting.

red cabbage pH indicator experiment

34. pH indicator lab - There are many kinds of indicators that can be used to determine pH. Teach students about acids and alkalis, then give them a selection of common household substances like vinegar and soapy water to test with universal indicator. They can then use the results to create their own coloured pH scale in their notebooks and label each substance accordingly. If you want to go a little further, consider making your own indicator solution with purple cabbage!

35. Titration of NaOH with HCl - This classic chemistry experiment involves the neutralization reaction between hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide. A small sample of NaOH containing the indicator phenolphthalein is given to each group (this is best done in pairs). Students slowly add acid to the pink alkali solution until it goes clear, at which point it should be neutral. If you have digital pH probes, get students to measure the changes throughout the experiment and plot them on a graph. You can also evaporate the resulting solution to show that salt (NaCl) crystals are formed in the process.


myp science experiments grade 7 inheritance fruit dna extraction

36. Fruit DNA extraction - In this simple lab activity, students use common household ingredients to isolate and observe the DNA found in fruits such as kiwis, bananas, and strawberries. The similarities should help illustrate the fact that DNA is a universal code common to all organisms. Although you can't see the molecular structure of the DNA in this exercise, it's still fun to have a look at your extracted nucleic acids under a microscope.

37. Life cycles investigation - There are a few ways to show students how various plants and animals complete their life cycles. For plants, beans grow quite quickly and the seeds are easy to collect and save. If you have some space and a bit more time, sunflowers are really fun to grow at school, too. Depending on the season, it may be possible to collect some tadpoles from a local pond and observe them as they grow and develop. Insect larvae and caterpillars are fun to watch as well, but a little less exciting until their final metamorphosis. You might even be able to contact a nearby chicken farm and get ahold of some fertilized eggs to incubate. Be sure to provide food and a decent living space for whatever creatures you investigate, of course, and have a plan for what to do with them after you are done observing them.

eye colour phenotype investigation

38. Phenotype investigation - Collect class data for a variety of common genetic traits and compare these to national or global averages. Blood type is ideal, but some students might not know theirs (everyone knows their blood type in Japan so this is an easy one for me!). Other possibilities include eye colour (here's a VERY detailed article on eye colour genetics), dominant hand, hair colour, or earlobe shape. Avoid things like height, which might single out or embarrass some students. Also, don't do tongue rolling, because despite what you may have heard, the ability to roll your tongue is either mostly or entirely NOT determined by genes.


39. Determining the speed of sound experiment - This one requires some space, and by space, I mean distance. You'll want at least 200m with a clear line of sight for good results. Have a few students position themselves at 100m increments away from a group of observers (the rest of the class). These students will be equipped with some kind of noise-making device that can also serve as a visual cue. We use two blocks of wood clapped together above the head. The observers use a stopwatch to measure the time between when they see the blocks touch and when they hear the sound. This is then used to calculate the speed of sound. If you get really lucky on a stormy day, you can do a variation of this exercise using lightning (from indoors, of course). In that case, your students would be finding the distance of the lightning using an accepted speed of sound.

40. Create a pinhole camera - It's not really an experiment, but it's still a classic physics exercise and for good reason. Nothing more clearly illustrates the function of the eye and retina and the concept of light moving in straight lines than this ancient device. A small cardboard box or similar container forms the basis for the pinhole camera, along with a few other craft materials. Then look at a bright object like a lightbulb or candle to see the inverted image.

colour sensitivity test

41. Hearing or colour sensitivity experiment - For this activity, students will use different videos or apps to determine how well they can differentiate between similar shades of a colour or hear high-pitched sounds. Have the whole class perform the tests and then analyze the results. Students love learning about themselves!

42. Reflection investigations - Using lasers and different types of mirrors, students observe the behaviour of light and construct ray diagrams. This is good practice for drawing clear and detailed diagrams. This can take a while, so it's probably best to split it into two lessons and keep plane and curved mirrors separate.