Science activities beat summertime boredom

Help children get through the long days of summer using fun, hands-on science activities to explore the world around them.

By late July, most school-aged children have been on summer vacation for nearly two months. Are the children in your life complaining that they are bored and have nothing to do? This is a perfect opportunity to introduce science activities; with a world of topics available, science can be fun with hands-on activities.

Preschool or early elementary-aged youth will enjoy exploring the world of insects. Visit your backyard and collect insects using a homemade insect net made from tulle and a hanger. Have fun identifying the creatures collected, learning about where they live (their habitat) and how they fit into the ecosystem. Children can even keep a journal about or draw pictures of the insects they find.

The same type of activity can be done to learn about the creatures that live in ponds, rivers or streams. With the help of an adult, children can collect a sample of pond water and sediment from the bottom of the pond or river. Visit the University of Wisconsin interactive website Water Critter Key Life in a Pond to learn all about the creatures they discover.

To help children beat the heat explore the density of different items. Using a child’s pool, or other large container of water, invite children to predict if the items they collect will sink or float. They then can experiment by dropping each item into the water. This can lead to a terrific discussion that compares weight, size and density.

Older youth may enjoy making homemade ice cream and exploring the chemistry behind the process. Research the ingredients needed to make ice cream and experiment with different flavors. Figure out how the freezing point is affected by rock salt and ice and investigate how movement affects this process. Make modifications to the process and be sure to sample often to determine success!

Take advantage of the heat by conducting weather experiments. Learn about evaporation, low-pressure zones, rising hot air and water vapor. Children can make predictions about how wind and temperature will affect evaporation; conduct experiments using fans and lamps to test their predictions. Encourage younger youth to visit the NASA Kids Club website to play engaging interactive games related to space exploration.

The opportunities to provide fun hands-on science learning are endless. For more ideas visit the Michigan State University Extension Michigan 4-H Youth Development Science Blast website. With a little research and creativity, summertime boredom can be beat.

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