It’s pretty much scientifically proven that science projects rule for keeping kids busy and interested in the summer months. And bonus, it gives them cool new science terms and understandings for the upcoming school year. Here are a couple kid-approved science experiments that are easy and fun for your home lab.
The rainbow carnation experiment is a fun and pretty way to teach the science of transpiration, cohesion, and absorption. All you need are a few white carnations and small tubes of water and food dye. For a cool rainbow effect, you can split the stems into different food dye vials for a multicolor effect. You can start seeing the colors change in just six hours. White carnations are easiest, but you can try this with daisies and white roses as well.
For budding biologists, an ecosystem is a great way to keep curiosity and learning going throughout the summer. Sometimes called a biosphere, ecosphere, or biojar, the idea behind an ecosystem is simple: by putting all necessary elements for a symbiotic life cycle together in one place, you can build a self-sustaining ecosystem like one found in nature. Make Zine has an amazing PDF guide here.
Diet Coke and Mentos Explosion
Fourth of July fireworks are over but there’s still plenty of time for the thrills of blowing stuff up in the yard. You might remember Mentos and Diet Coke as one of the first Youtube famous viral videos, but it still hasn’t lost its delightful luster. With just a few candies, a two liter of Diet Coke, and some clothes you don’t mind getting sticky, you can have a memorable day with some really cool science behind your backyard technicolor explosion. Here’s a great explanation of the science.
Named after a Dr. Seuss book, Oobleck is a neo-newtonian fluid, meaning that it acts like a liquid when it’s being poured but then resists like a solid when there’s a force acting on it. Grab a handful and it will ooze out of your hands. It’s super fun and a great way to play in the yard. It makes a bit of a mess, but it washes out with soap and water. All you need is corn starch, water, and, if you’re feeling brave, food coloring. There’s a great Instructables video and step-by-step directions here.
An educational craft that’s also delicious? Yes please. Rock candy is a fun way to teach the science behind crystal growth and evaporation and if you let the rock candy grow in see-through jars, you’ll be able to see it go down in real time. It takes about a week for the crystals to grow, although you can let them grow even longer if you can wait! There’s a step-by-step photo tutorial and science guide here.
With no early morning school days and nice, warm nights, summer is the perfect time for young astronomers to develop their love to the night skies. Most cities will have astronomy events that are very low cost or free for families a few nights a month. These tend to be run by amateur enthusiasts who are more than eager to share their hobby.
Even in a big city, you can usually see the major summertime constellations: Orion, the Big Dipper and Little Dipper. If you live somewhere with less light pollution, you should be able to see many more. Download Sky Guide for easily identifying major stars and constellations. If you’re planning on a camping or summer cabin trip, this is the perfect activity for the whole family!