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Before we trade warm summer evenings for the cozy chill of fall, we thought we’d share five of our favorite summer science-based activities kids can enjoy with family and friends. Follow along as we list some summer science that we think is super fun!
Ingredients: two lemons (your acid!), sugar, ice, baking soda (your base!)
Supplies: pot for boiling water, two chilled glasses
1. Boil two cups of water (parental supervision required).
2. Add two tablespoons of sugar per glass of lemonade to the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Let the liquid cool once the sugar dissolves.
3. Squeeze the lemon juice into the chilled glasses and add the ice.
4. Pour the cooled sugar water into the glass.
5. Get ready for the fizz! Add ¼ of a teaspoon of baking soda to each glass.
What happens when the acid and base combine? The resulting chemical reaction produces carbon dioxide gas!
Suggestion for more science: Ask kids to hypothesize how the temperature of the liquid might affect the chemical reaction. Will a warmer liquid react differently when the baking soda is added? Boil some more water and try it out!
Ingredients: eggs! Note: Hard-boiled eggs will offer (much) easier clean-up.
Supplies: coffee filter (or other light paper), masking (or similar) tape, tissues, paper or styrofoam cups, four pieces of string, scissors/hole punch
1. Prepare an egg cradle using a hole punch (or scissors with adult help) to make four holes in the top of a cup. Then take a few tissues and ball them up before putting them in the bottom of the cup.
2. Make a parachute: Lay the coffee filter/paper out flat and cut out a square. Cut a hole in each corner, thread a piece of string through it, and tie a knot. Use the tape to reinforce the holes if necessary.
3. Place an egg in the cup on top of the balled-up tissues.
4. Test your parachute by dropping it from a certain height as you hold it from the top center of the parachute.
5. If the egg breaks when it lands, try changing the design to prevent it from breaking the next time.
Suggestion for more science: What improvements could you make to your design that might protect your egg better? What other materials might make for a more effective parachute? Why? Experiment with different items you have at home like a plastic or paper bag. Test out your parachute from different heights
Supplies: sunny day, open space such as a driveway or parking lot, sidewalk chalk
1. In an open area on a sunny day, place an “X” on the ground using sidewalk chalk.
2. Early in the day, ask your volunteer to stand on the marked spot. Trace your volunteer’s shadow using sidewalk chalk and write the time next to it.
3. Come back at regular intervals throughout the day to trace your shadow again, noting the time next to each tracing. For example, 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., and 6 p.m.
4. As you mark your shadows on your human sundial throughout the day, make observations about the shadows. Note the general position of the sun in the sky and how it changes throughout the day.
Suggestion for more science: Around your “X,” draw a circle and note the directions north, south, east, and west. Consider the direction your shadow has moved since the previous tracing and predict where on the circle your shadow will land on the next.
Ingredients: light-colored flowers, food coloring, warm water
Supplies: Scissors, container for water, dye, and flowers (check out these plastic beakers!)
1. Trim the stems of your flowers.
2. Make a slanted cut at the base of the stem underwater. The cut is slanted so that the stem won't sit flat on the bottom of the container, which can prevent the flower from taking in water. Make the cut underwater to prevent air bubbles from forming at the base of the stem, which would prevent the water and color from being drawn up.
3. Add food coloring to a glass. Use about 20 to 30 drops of food coloring per ½ cup of warm water.
4. Set the damp stem of the flower in the colored water. Via transpiration and capillary action, the petals should become colored after a few hours. The process may take as long as 24 hours to reach full coloration.
Suggestion for more science: Many flower pigments are pH indicators, so you can change the color of some flowers simply by putting them into water containing baking soda (a base) or lemon juice or vinegar (common acids). Predict what colors the petals will change depending on whether you test an acid or a base and note the outcome!
Ingredients: 6 cups distilled or purified water, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1 Tbs. baking powder, 1 Tbs. glycerine (corn syrup may be substituted for glycerine), 1/2 cup (120 ml) blue Dawn dish soap
Supplies: plastic bucket for mixing ingredients and for each bubble wand approximately 54 inches of cotton string; 2 sticks, 1 to 3 feet long; a metal washer
1. Measure all ingredients. Mix water and cornstarch.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well, but gently so as not to create tiny bubbles. Use immediately, or stir again and use after an hour or so.
3. Create your wand: Tie the string to the end of one stick. Put a washer on the string and tie the string to the end of the other stick so the washer is hanging in-between, on around 36 inches of string. Tie remaining 18 inches of string to the end of the first stick to create a triangle.
4. With the two sticks parallel and together, dip your wand into the mixture, immersing the string completely.
5. Pull the string out of the bubble mix and pull the sticks apart slowly so that you form a string triangle with the bubble in the middle.
6. Step backwards or move the sticks to create giant bubbles.
Suggestion for more science: Surface tension, which causes the water molecules to stick together, is weakened when soap molecules are added. When you create a soap bubble, you’re actually sandwiching a thin layer of water between two layers of soap. Try using different lengths of string to create differently shaped bubbles and see which are the easiest to make!