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Preventing Summer Learning Loss – 3 Hands-on Activities to Keep Them Thinking

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My kids have become addicted to screens this summer. They move from the television to the computer to the iPad to the Touch. It’s been tough to get them engaged with anything that doesn’t plug in.

At Steve Spangler Science, we are dedicated to preventing the summer learning loss that occurs when kids are out for the long break. These days, parents don’t just need to get their kids to turn off the TV, but turn it all off. We are sharing many different science activities to get kids outside, engaged and learning. Here are three of my favorite activities to get those screens turned off.

Bubble Snakes with a Bubble Blower

Set the bubble blowers aside and make long, colorful snakes that cluster and grow out of a do-it-yourself blower.

Summer Fun Activities - Bubble Snake Blower


Make the Snakes

  1. Find a clean, empty plastic bottle. While a 16 or 20 oz bottle will work the best, feel free to try any size bottle you want. Maybe the results will be something crazy!
  2. Using a pair of box-cutters (and adult supervision), carefully cut the bottom off of the plastic bottle.
  3. Cover the freshly-cut hole with a piece of fabric that is similar to a washcloth or cotton sock. Use a rubber band to keep the fabric in place.
  4. Dip the fabric-covered end of the bottle into the bowl of bubble solution.
  5. Blow into the mouth of the plastic bottle and, before you know it, you’ll be creating Bubble Snakes like a pro!
  6. Let’s take it up a notch by adding some color! Find some liquid food coloring in your favorite color(s). Add a few drops of the food coloring to the fabric on the end of your bottle. Get creative!
  7. Dip the fabric in the bubble solution and give the bottle a blow… HOLY MOLY! You’re creating some super colorful Bubble Snakes!

For more on the science behind and making the best bubble solution, visit the Bubble Snake experiment page on

Summer Fun Activity - Popsicle Stick Chain ReactionPopsicle Stick Chain Reaction

Popsicle sticks are great for holding frozen treats or craft projects, but they are also perfect for demonstrating kinetic and potential energy.


  • Lots and lots (did we mention lots?) of popsicle sticks
  • Tons of patience
  • A friend (optional, but can make the process much easier)


  1. Start off with two popsicle sticks. Lay them in an “X” on a flat surface.
  2. Weave the end of a third popsicle stick underneath the end of the popsicle stick on the bottom of the “X.” The rest of the third stick should go over top of the popsicle stick on the top of the “X.” Make sure to keep pressure on the third stick.
  3. Repeat step 2 with a fourth popsicle stick. This time, start underneath the second popsicle stick and weave over the third.
  4. Continue adding popsicle sticks in this fashion until you have a really long chain!
  5. Once you’ve extended the chain to your heart’s content… let go! The popsicles will release in a chain reaction that will have everyone in the area jumping for joy.

For more on the science behind, visit the Popsicle Stick Chain Reaction experiment page.

Make your own geyser tube Homemade Geyser Tube

We’ve been performing the Mentos Soda Geyser at Steve Spangler Science for years. We’ve launched so many geysers, in fact, that we have created several different science toys used to help streamline the eruption.


  • Diet soda
  • MENTOS® candies
  • Construction paper
  • Tape
  • Toothpick


  1. Roll construction paper around an unopened roll of Mentos candies.
  2. Use tape (electrical or duct) to hold the shape and size of the rolled paper Use tape at both ends, wrapped around the paper tube’s entire circumference, and remove the roll of Mentos.
  3. Place one end of the paper tube into the mouth of a freshly-opened, 2-liter bottle of diet soda. Secure the tube in place with a bit of tape.
  4. Just above the the mouth of the bottle, insert a toothpick into the tube. Make sure the toothpick is centered and is stuck through the entire tube.
  5. Drop 5-7 Mentos into the top of the tube.
  6. When you’re ready (and preferably in an open outdoor area), yank the toothpick out of the tube and stand back!

For more about the science behind the Soda Geyser Tubes, visit the experiment page.

Susan Wells
Author: Susan Wells

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson July 17, 2013

    All sound fun. My kiddos would especially love the geyser tube. 🙂

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