Spring is just around the corner, and with all the seasonal changes occurring around us it’s a wonderful time to foster science in your child. The warming of the weather and blooming of vegetation is a natural motivation for inquiry. Additionally, as spring break vacations are beginning you will be looking for ways to encourage learning while not in school. Here a few fun, yet simple science activities to do with your child.
Earth Science- Grass Heads
Materials: grass seed, soil, fiber fill (pillow stuffing), old nylon knee-high stocking (or foot to calf portion of a pair of pantyhose), 9 oz. clear plastic cup, googly eyes, and markers
- Pour some grass seed into the toe of a stocking, then add the soil.
- Put a fist full of fiber fill into the stocking and tie the end off.
- Add googly eyes and use markers to make a face on one side of the stocking.
- Put a little water on top of the grass seed.
- Fill the bottom ¼ of the plastic cup with water and place the stocking (tied side down) into the cup.
- Place the cup in a place which gets lots of sun. Watch your grass head grow.
- Talk with your child about how they think the seeds turned into grass.
Materials: bottle of school glue, Borax (found in laundry detergent aisle), food coloring, water, and bowls
- Mix 1 oz. glue with ¼ cup water. Add food coloring as desired.
- Slowly stir in ¼ cup Borax. Once you have stirred all you can, feel free to knead the mixture. The new compound will be formed. If there is any left over water, just pour it out.
- Have your child talk about the changes you observed (sight and touch) in the mixture.
Sound Energy- Telephones
Materials: 2 paper cups, yarn, 2 paper clips
- Cut about a 6 ft. long piece of yarn.
- Poke a small hole into the bottom of each cup.
- Slide one end of the yarn in the hole from the outside of the bottom of the cup. Place one paper clip on the inside of the cup and tie the yarn to it. Repeat for the other cup.
- Have a conversation with a partner using the cups.
- Ask your child how is it he/she is able to hear the other person? Discuss how the sound waves travel through the yarn.
Solar Energy- Solar Oven
Materials: pizza box, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, black construction paper, tape, newspaper, ruler, and scissors
- In the lid of the box make a big flap by cutting along the two sides and bottom of the lid. You’ll want to leave about 1.5 inches between the flap and edge of the lid.
- Open the flap and cover the bottom (which is the part inside the box) with aluminum foil and secure it with tape.
- Open the lid and cover the inside of the lid with plastic wrap and tape into place. It creates a window pane for the open flap.
- Line the inside bottom of the box with black construction paper.
- Roll up the newspaper and place along the inside bottom edges of the box. This will serve to insulate the four sides of the box.
- Place your desired treat to be cooked inside the box on the construction paper. Close the lid, then prop open the flap using a ruler. Set in the sun. Once done, use oven mittens to remove your treat and enjoy.
- Have your child talk about how she/he thinks the food was cooked.
Engineering- Simple Bridge
Materials: index cards, playing cards, craft sticks, popsicle sticks, 2 oz. plastic cups, clothes pins, rubber bands, pencil, paper, and books
- Look at the available materials. Using the paper and pencil, make a plan for building a bridge.
- Build your bridge.
- Test your bridge’s strength by adding books onto your bridge until it collapses.
- How could you build your bridge stronger? What is another design plan you can build and test?