Science Activities for Kids
Try these summer science projects to keep your kids in learning mode while they are away from school. Each experiment asks a question and provides an activity to discover the answer. All of the experiments are based on scientific principles that also let kids see the fun side of science. Make sure the activities you choose are age-appropriate for safety purposes. As they do these experiments, they may also be practicing their reading, writing, math and thinking skills.
Which fruit decays the fastest?
Supplies: Ripe banana and other fruits, bottle, balloon and sunshine
Instructions: Mash a ripe banana and put it into a bottle. Then place a balloon over the mouth of the bottle and put the bottle in a warm, sunny place. Measure how far the balloon inflates each day for a few days. Do the same thing with other fruit, such as grapes, apples and oranges to answer the experiment question.
Is one eye better than two?
Supplies: Eye patch and a fairly small ball
Instructions: Two children should stand several feet apart and toss the ball back and forth 10 times. Older children should catch the ball with one hand. Then one child should put on an eye patch. Have the kids toss the ball to each other with one having an eye covered. Total how many times the child catches the ball with and without the eye patch. Then have the other child use the eye patch.
Is your skin the same everywhere?
Supplies: Soft pencil, paper and scotch tape
Instructions: Make a big black area about 3 inches in size by rubbing a soft pencil on a sheet of paper. Put a finger on the spot until it picks up a big smudge. Then pick up the smudge from your finger with a piece of Scotch tape and press it onto a piece of white paper. Do the same with other parts of your body. Did the skin prints differ?
Does air expand when heated?
Supplies: Balloon, measuring tape and a lamp
Instructions: Blow up a balloon and measure the distance around it at its widest point (circumference). Next, turn on a lamp and hold the balloon above it for two to three minutes. Then measure the distance around the balloon's circumference again. What happened to the size of the balloon?
Is it possible to stick a balloon with a pin without popping it?
Supplies: Balloon, strong adhesive tape and a straight pin
Instructions: Blow up a latex balloon until it is about three-quarters full of air and tie off the end. Next, cut seven pieces of strong, sticky tape and secure each one firmly to the outside of the balloon. Try to space them evenly. Then carefully stick a straight pin through the middle of each piece of tape. Why didn't the balloon burst? (The sticky tape forms a seal around the pin.)
Which takes up more room - warm air or cold?
Supplies: Hot water and a large plastic bottle (like a 1-gallon milk bottle)
Instructions: Help or supervise younger children with this experiment since it requires hot water. Pour hot tap water into the plastic bottle until it is about half full and then swish it around in the bottle for about a minute. Pour the water out of the bottle and immediately screw the cap on tightly. Watch the bottle collapse.
Why does this happen? The air in the bottle is warmed by the hot water in the bottle. When the bottle is capped, this warm air quickly cools. Cool air takes up less room than warm air. The bottle collapses to fill the space. It is pushed in by the outside air pressure on all surfaces of the bottle.
How does gravity work?
Supplies: A marble and a bottle
Instructions: Place a marble in a bottle. Turn the bottle over. What happens? Again, place a marble in a bottle. Move the bottle so the marble starts going around inside it. Keep moving the bottle and gradually turn the bottle on its side and then upside down. Did the marble fall out of the bottle? It shouldn't have. Centrifugal force should have pulled the marble away from the bottle neck and overcome the gravity that would cause it to fall out.
Gravity causes all objects to be pulled toward each other. Because Earth is the biggest object around, it has the strongest pull of gravity.
If these projects get your kids hooked on science, there are many websites that offer more fun experiments. Three good choices are: www.exploratorium.edu/explore/handson.html, www.sciencemadesimple.com/projects.html and http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/sci. You also can find many additional experiments on the Dear Teacher website, www.dearteacher.com, in Resources under Activities.
Parents can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.