Sizzling Summer Science Activities to Keep Your Kids Learning
I saw a report that said the average child sits in front of a monitor for over seven hours a day. No one wants to spend the summer with the kids in front of the television. Get out, enjoy the sunshine and do a little science. Here are some science activities to do outdoors this summer.
Water Conservation in the Garden
Backyard and container gardens are popular activities for families who want to save a little money and grow their own food. Garden centers now sell polymers called Water Jelly Crystals. The crystals start out as a small pebble and when soaked in water, absorb the water and grow. Place a handful of Water Jelly Crystals in the dirt under the roots of your plant in gardens or containers. To make a raised garden, we placed cinder blocks over turned up dirt in the garden. Mix a handful of Water Jelly Crystals into the dirt and place the roots halfway down. Then fill to the top with dirt. As the Water Jelly Crystals dehydrate, they will keep the soil moist. The roots won’t dry out and excess water will run off. The best part is you won’t have to water the plants as often.
Growing Plants in Test Tubes
Have you taken the time to show your kids the science behind the plants? Instead of purchasing plants from a garden center, start with the seeds in either a clear plastic cup or test tube. As the seed begins to grow, you and your children can watch the activity that occurs beneath the soil before the stem and leaves ever appear. This is easily set up with materials around your house, or in an all-in-one set called Diggin’ Dirty Science. The kit comes complete with test tubes, rack, seeds and even the dirt. Start the seeds and watch the roots develop and the plant sprout. It also comes with Water Jelly Crystals to experiment with growing seeds hydroponically.
This is the perfect color mixing activity to do outside, where making a mess isn’t such a big deal. There are many different types of kits available through craft stores. Set aside two back to back days for the tie dye process. You can tie dye anything from pillow cases to t-shirts to handkerchiefs to socks and more. You can tie dye practically any fabric as long as it is made from natural fibers. Fabric made from 100% cotton is the best. Synthetic fibers do not bond with the dye and will not work. The first day you will soak your fabric in soda ash, tie your fabric and dye it. You must wait about 24 hours to allow the dye and the fabric enough time to bond. The second day involves rinsing fabric and washing it. Chemistry is involved in the bonding process and the science of color mixing is also used. This is the perfect activity for a sleepover, Girl or Boy Scout meeting, birthday party or lazy summer afternoon.
Mentos and Diet Coke
This popular science activity is a perfect go-to for a block party, birthday party or science Sunday. For extra fun, check out the new Geyser Car and shoot it down the street or for a little extra science, check out the book, Boom, Splat, Kablooey book on soda geysers from Klutz.
The Science of Air with Solar Bags and Wind Bags
How do you get 130 1st and 4th graders engaged and learning with only two days before school is out for the summer? Bring a bunch of inflatable bags to class. This activity is done best at a park or on a soccer field – a place where there is space to run and play.
Solar Bags are made from a thin, black plastic and measure 50 feet in length. This activity is best done on a cool, sunny morning before the heat of the day. Unroll your Solar Bag, tie one end and with a friend, run across the field to fill it with air. As the sun beats down on the black plastic, the air inside is warmed up. The air inside the bag becomes warmer than the air outside, and the bag begins to float. You must hang on to one end or tie kite string tightly and fly it like a kite. Just don’t let go.
Wind Bags are made from strong plastic and inflate to 8 feet. How many breaths will it take to inflate it? 70? 80? With a simple science secret, you can blow up your Wind Bag in one breath. Once it is inflated, build structures with your Wind Bags with the included rubber bands or just run around like crazy while you chase your friends. Wind Bags demonstrate the properties of air molecules and how they move. My 1st and 4th graders couldn’t get enough of the Wind Bags. It’s amazing how a plastic bag can amaze and excite even the squirreliest kids.
More summer science on SteveSpanglerScience.com
We will be sharing a Sick Science! Summer Camp experiment every Monday on SteveSpanglerScience.com beginning this Monday, June 4th. Watch our website for special summer savings on experiments and kits all summer long and check back on Mile High Mamas in June for more summer science activities.