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Free course

Basic science: understanding experiments

Free statement of participation on completion
Basic science: understanding experiments

This practical, hands-on course aims to help you start thinking like a scientist by carrying out experiments at home and making scientific observations.

You will carry out simple experiments to extract the DNA from fruit or vegetables, observe osmosis in action and bake a potato to destruction! You’ll also investigate how different liquids behave when frozen and how much water an everyday food item contains.

As you carry out these experiments you will develop important science-based skills including observation, record-keeping, data analysis and how to control an experiment. After examining your results, you will share them with other learners and discuss your findings.


This free course is intended for anyone with an interest in making scientific observations through experimentation, and does not require any previous experience of studying the subject.

The experiments do involve both hot and cold temperatures so younger learners may need supervision. To create an OpenLearn account, you must be aged 13 years or over. Adults may want to use their own OpenLearn account to supervise younger learners on the course, and assist with the experiments.

All of the experiments can be carried out with items you would find in a typical kitchen, but the Introduction to Week 1 provides a full equipment list.

This OpenLearn science course was produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education, the educational arm of The Exilarch's Foundation.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • start thinking in a rigorous and scientific way
  • recognise the influence of experimental design and variables
  • consider how the world around you works.

First Published: 27/03/2015

Updated: 20/01/2020

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