Okay, people. We’re heading into mid-July: prime summer-slump time. They’re bored, you’re all sick of each other’s company, it’s getting awful hot and muggy outside…now what? Why, science, that’s what! Here are some boredom-busting science projects to incorporate some learning adventures into your summer fun.
Orange Buoyancy Science Experiment: Will it sink or will it float? That’s the question your kids get to answer as they experiment with oranges. It’s suggested that you can help the kiddos understand why that’s relevant by comparing a peeled orange to them in a pool and an unpeeled orange to them in a pool with a life jacket or floaties. On a related note, you can also get a giant tub or bucket of water and a ton of stuff to throw in it and let your kids go to town seeing what floats and what doesn’t. Less structured than the aforementioned orange experiment, but a big hit with preschoolers.
LEGO Zip Line: This fun science adventure engages your child from start to finish. First, they have to figure out what they’re going to “zip” down the line. If they want to use a figure, how is it going to slide? Once that’s ready, it’s time to experiment with the line. What happens with a short line? Long line? Sharp angle? What happens if you use different material for the line? Personally, I’d kind of like to know what happens if you send two figures careening at each other from the different ends of the line. You can even make it more complicated for older or more experienced children by adding a pulley.
Ball Run: This is another opportunity for kids to play with physics. The marble run was one of the most popular toys in my daughter’s preschool classroom last year, particularly later in the year. It is not a piece of equipment we’re going to have at home, though, because it takes up so much space! This ball run is a way to use materials you probably have around the house that can be repurposed into craft materials or recycled when you’re done. You can have the elements prepared or, depending on your child’s age and skill set, they can help you cut the ramps and chutes. Letting them set everything up and design the course helps them learn about what works to keep the ball running and what doesn’t.
Rain Clouds: Well, if there’s a more perfect rainy day activity than this one, I don’t know what it is! Spend some time learning about the weather—and creating it—by making it rain. Once the science lesson is over, make this into an art experiment and let the kids mix different colors of rain into their clouds and “air.”
Rock Candy: Summer is a time for treats, buy why not make your kids work and wait for them? (I’m such a mean mom.) This experiment deals with boiling hot sugar solution and definitely requires adult help, but it’s fun and the end result is delicious! Using water, sugar, and optional food coloring, kids can “grow” their own candy while they learn about evaporation and crystal formation.
Baking Soda and Bubbles Experiment: What happens when you mix baking soda with _____? Let’s find out! Those two sentences right there pretty much sum up this experiment. Start with a “standard” mix like baking soda and vinegar, and then try some other fun ones like dish soap or bubble solution with vinegar. Observe the results and compare what happens with the different mixes. Let your child’s imagination and curiosity take them from there.
Walking on Eggshells: I don’t usually recommend projects that use food that’s not going to be eaten, but this one is supposed to result in limited waste. You won’t know until you try, though…Can you squeeze an egg without breaking it? Can you stand on two dozen eggs without ending up covered in yolk? What would happen if you walked on a path of eggs? Answer these questions with this fun no-prep experiment.
Oobleck: If it’s this much fun to say, it’s gotta be fun to play with, right? Make some Oobleck and get ready to learn about a “non-Newtonian fluid” that can be viscous (wet and gooey) or firm, depending on what you’re doing with it. Your child can help you make the Oobleck, learning what happens when various ingredients are mixed together, and then enjoy experimenting with the finished product.
Dancing Rice: Baking soda and vinegar are so much fun! Here’s another experiment using these easy ingredients. Using the carbon dioxide bubbles formed when baking soda and vinegar are mixed, kids can make rice dance! Prolong the fun by trying to make different objects dance (bigger rice, small pasta, raisins), adding food coloring, and trying to extend the time the rice dances.
Enjoy taking these opportunities to experiment and discover with your children!