Summertime Science Projects
06/19/2015 08:11AM ● Published by Aimee Cormier
By Shanna Perkins
All school year, students dream about those few and fleeting months of summer. When the sound of school bells becomes a distant memory and every day feels like Saturday. To keep children from settling into a summer pattern that will leave them inactive and uninterested, try these projects to keep them active and intrigued!
These first projects are perfect for summertime, because they give everyone a welcomed excuse to cool down from the summer heat.
Sticky Ice – This one can also double as a magic trick. You’ll need: a glass of water, an ice cube, a piece of string and salt. Place the ice cube into the glass of water. Take the string and lay it across the ice cube. Take turns demonstrating how the string doesn’t stick to the ice cube. Now, place the string back on top of the ice cube and sprinkle it with salt. After one minute, lift the string; the ice cube will come along with it. This showcases how salt lowers the freezing point of water. The ice melts quickly and refreezes around the string.
Ice Excavation – This project is excellent for anyone looking to incorporate sensory play. Gather up some of your child’s favorite waterproof toys, like Legos or actions figures. Take a rectangular container and fill it a quarter of the way with water and drop the toys in. Place the container in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, top with another layer of water and toys. Once the project is completely frozen, remove it from the container. Fill squeeze bottles and spray bottles with warm water and watch them try to free their toys.
Fizzy Ice – Baking Soda and vinegar are science experiment staples in classrooms across the world. This project takes it to a whole new level! Fill an ice tray with vinegar. Use food coloring to give the vinegar different colors. Pop the tray in the freezer for about six hours. Line a shallow tub with baking soda and place the frozen vinegar cubes inside. Slowly, but surely the ice cubes will put on colorful and extra fizzy show!
The following projects should be done outside, because they’re bubbly and messy, which makes them the perfect summer activities.
Big Bang – This is an exciting way to teach children about gas and expansion; it’s commonly referred to as “the exploding lunch box.” Fill a sandwich bag with ¼ cup of warm water and ½ cup of vinegar. Put 3 teaspoons of baking soda in a tissue and fold it up. Zip the bag all the way up except for a corner large enough to fit the tissue through. Drop the tissue in and stand back! Before your eyes, you’ll start to see the bag expand and then explode!
Rainbow Snakes – This project is as cool as it is easy. First, cut off the bottom (flat end) of a water bottle. Next, take one of those socks that have lost their mate and slide it over the bottom of the bottle. Secure the sock with duct tape or a rubber band. In a shallow container, combine dish soap, water and food coloring. Dip the sock into the mixture and blow on the opposite end. You’ll have unbelievably long streams of colorful bubbles.
Lemony Fresh – This is an interesting take on at-home science experiments, because it switches the acid from the traditionally used vinegar to citric acid and lemons. It’s also great for sensory play. But be warned, it’s a mess! Mix clear hand soap and warm water in several small containers. Add food coloring and mix it up. Add a heap of baking soda to each bowl. Follow that up with a scoop of citric acid and squeeze a lemon over the top. The foam that results from this combination is light, fluffy, massive and continues to build!
These experiments take advantage of the scavenging and collecting that seems to go hand-in-hand with kids and summertime.
Rock On – This one includes candy, so it’s an automatic winner. It has a lot more adult supervision than the other projects, but the end result is worth it. Using Starburst, it demonstrates the formation process of rocks. Lay a piece of foil flat on the table and line it with wax paper. Place three starbursts in the center of the papers. Tightly wrap the foil around the candy. Apply pressure to change the shape of the candy – this demonstrates sedimentary rock formation. Wrap a new set of candy and place them in a toaster oven for close to two minutes. Let the aluminum foil cool and apply pressure. The application of heat and pressure demonstrates metamorphic rock formation. Once again, wrap up candy and put it in the toaster oven, this time for about five minutes. Do not touch the candy until it has cooled sufficiently. This extreme heat showcase the heat required to form igneous rocks.
Creepy Crawlers – There’s an odd adoration that children have for worms. This worm observation tower lets them enjoy the creepy crawler while seeing them work in their habitat. Begin with a tall glass cylinder. Oversized vases that would be used for décor are great for this. Place a pvc pipe, with small holes drilled throughout it, inside of the vase and secure it with lava rocks. Next, create bedding out of moss and crumbled dead leaves. Add water to the mixture and mix it up with your hands. Pour in the moss mixture, placing sand between each layer. Drop in your worms and watch them wriggle their way through their new home.
Summer, especially in Acadiana, can have very temperamental weather. These project focus on learning more about weather.
Rainy Day – This is a great way to explain the importance of density in the atmosphere. Fill a clear container with water. Top the water with a layer of old fashion puffy shaving cream. Mix blue food coloring with water and slowly drop it through the shaving cream. The drops will continue to get heavier and eventually drop through to the container of water.
Lightening In A Bottle – This explains the lightening that comes from those heavy summer thunderstorms. We all know what happens when you rub a balloon on your hair! Have your child build up static by rubbing the balloon over their hair. Then grab a spoon, or anything metal, go into a dark room, touch the spoon to the balloon and see what happens!
Cricket Degrees – There are all sorts of sounds to be heard during summer nights. One is the ever-present chirp of crickets. You can use their song to determine the temperature. Try to zero in on the chirp of one cricket. Then set a timer for 14 seconds and count how many times that cricket chirps. Write down that number and add 40 to it. The sum will tell you the degrees in Fahrenheit. And there you have it – cricket degrees.