Summer Science Activities


Children learn best when instruction is continuous, so keep your kids in the learning mode this summer by offering science activities you can do together every week they are out of school. All the experiments are based on scientific principles that let them see the fun side of science. As they do these experiments, children also may be practicing their reading, writing, math and thinking skills.


If your children become hooked on science, here are three websites offering more experiments:


1. Which fruit decays the fastest? When fruit decays, bacteria multiply as they eat up the fruit. In processing the food, bacteria give off gas … and children see the fruit blow up a balloon. Mash a ripe banana and put it into a bottle. Then, place a balloon over the mouth of the bottle, and put the bottle in a warm, sunny place. Measure how far the balloon inflates each day for a few days. Do the same thing with other fruit, such as grapes, apples and oranges to answer the question.


2. Is one eye better than two? Use an eye patch and a fairly small ball for this experiment. Two children stand several feet apart and toss a ball back and forth 10 times. (Older children should catch the ball with one hand.) Then, one child puts on an eye patch. Again, the children toss the ball to each other. Count how many times the child caught the ball with and without the eye patch. Then have the other child use the eye patch.


3. Is skin the same everywhere? Make a big black area on a sheet of paper about 3 inches in diameter by rubbing a soft pencil on the paper. Kids put a finger on the spot until it picks up a big smudge. Then, pick up the smudge from their finger with a piece of Scotch tape and press it onto a piece of white paper. Repeat with other parts of the body. Did the skin prints differ?


4. How hard does the heart work? Kids take their pulse lying down, and then after doing these exercises: sitting, standing and jumping 10 times. Rest between each activity. Does a person’s pulse rate change with different activities?


5. Does air expand when it is heated? Blow up a balloon and measure the distance around it at its widest point (circumference). Next, turn on a lamp and hold the balloon above it for 2-3 minutes. Measure the distance around the balloon’s circumference again. What happened to the size of the balloon?


6. Is it possible to stick a pin in a balloon without popping it? Blow up a latex balloon until it is about three-quarters full of air and tie off the end. Next, cut seven pieces of strong, sticky tape and secure each one firmly to the outside of the balloon. Try to space them evenly. Then carefully stick a straight pin through the middle of each piece of tape. Why didn’t the balloon burst? (The sticky tape forms a seal around the pin.)


7. Does warm or cool air takes up more room? Help or supervise younger children with this experiment as hot water is used. First, kids find a large plastic bottle, like a 1-gallon milk bottle. Pour hot tap water into the bottle until it is about half full and then swish the water around in the bottle for about a minute. Pour the water out of the bottle and immediately screw the cap on tightly. Watch the bottle collapse. What has happened is that the air in the bottle was warmed by putting the hot water in the bottle. When the bottle was capped, this warm air quickly cooled. Cool air takes up less room than warm air. The bottle collapsed to fill the space; it was pushed in by the outside air pressure on all surfaces of the bottle.