Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that science, or learning, takes any time off.
This summer help your kids work through a few fun, funny, and easy science experiments.
Make beautiful artwork with just a few common craft items and the sun!
- construction paper
- toys, utensils, etc. from around the house; can be opaque or translucent
- the sun
- a few rocks (optional)
- First pick a spot outside that gets a few hours of continuous sunlight.
- Each child selects one or more pieces of construction paper and whatever objects they want from your choices.
- In the sunny spot, have your children place the paper flat on the ground and arrange the objects on top. If the objects are light, consider weighting down the corners of the paper with a few rocks.
- Come back in a few hours, take the objects off the paper, and see what happened! There SHOULD be darker/original colored spots where the objects were resting, and rest of the paper should be bleached out.
Science behind the art:
The sun’s UV rays break down the dyes and chemicals in construction paper, causing the colors to fade. The places where you placed objects were blocked from UV rays, and kept the original color.
Ziplock Bag Ice Cream
Create a cool treat, burn a few calories, and examine the way that things freeze!
- one gallon sized ziplock type bag per person
- one pint sized bag per person
- ice, lots of ice
- kosher salt
- milk, heavy cream, non-dairy milk of choice: 1/2 cup per person
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1/4 tsp flavor extract, ex: vanilla or mint
- Fill one gallon sized bag about halfway with ice. Add 6tbs of salt to ice.
- Combine all other ingredients in the pint bag.
- Bury the SEALED pint bag in the ice bag.
- Seal the ice bag and shake vigorously until ingredients in pint bag become frozen-ish solid.
Note: It takes a loooooong time shaking to get the ice cream to be as solid as commercial ice cream. Getting it to slushy is as best as I have ever done. It is still delicious.
Science behind the treat:
Salt changes the temperature at which liquids freeze. Adding salt to the ice makes it colder, allowing the liquids to freeze faster.
Will it Float?
Challenge your kids to make a floating boat using household objects!
- small inflatable or plastic pool filled with water
- aluminum foil
- plastic wrap
- coins (optional)
- toys: plastic eggs, small dolls, trains, cars, etc.; things that can get wet (optional)
- Create the challenge: build a boat that will float! Use whatever materials you have available to you (see list).
- Have kids try to construct a boat. Resist the urge to help!
- Kids test their boats in the pool and make adjustments
- Extra challenge: which boat floats longest when it is holding things. Pick ONE type of object for fairness. Add ONE of this item to each boat, repeat until there is only one boat standing. Allow kids to make changes to their boat so that it might float longer.
Science behind the boats:
Different objects have a different density, allowing them to float or sink naturally. All items have mass, which can counter act their ability to float or sink. When you spread the mass out over a larger surface area, objects of a heavy mass can be supported in the water.
DIY Weather Station
Keep track of your summer sunshine, or clouds, with basic instruments and tracking!
- outdoor thermometer
- graduated cylinder
- cloud chart
- poster paper or wall/desk calendar
- stickers: sun, cloud, rain, other weather symbols (optional)
- Mount the thermometer outside in a neutral spot, or one that isn’t totally sun OR totally shade all day.
- Place the cylinder on a flat surface that is not covered by tree or buildings.
- Every day, check the temperature daily or a few times each day. Record your results on the calendar or poster paper. Your notes could be: 8am – 70º; noon – 85º; 7pm – 73º.
- Check the cylinder for any moisture that collected overnight. Record the amount and note if it was dew or from rain.
- Observe the clouds. You could do this at one particular time of day or throughout the day. Use the cloud chart to identify the cloud types.
- Try to make weather predictions based on what kinds of clouds you see. Some clouds mean that rain is coming, and others mean fair weather.
- Take a peek back at your week, month, or the whole summer. Talk as a family about trends you saw: was it hot all summer? was there a lot of rain? was it a really cloudy?
Science of weather:
Meteorology is much more complicated than reading a thermometer or checking out some clouds, but these are parts of the job! Children can get a sense of how weather affects their plans or changes their day.
What do you do over the summer to make science fun and exciting?