While some homeschoolers take summers off, some prefer to keep learning. For those who still like to keep little minds learning, a more relaxed and fun approach is the usual choice. Science is one of those subjects that can easily be included in your summer plans, as many activities can be done outside. Make it a fun summer by adding these science activities to your summer to-do list and take advantage of the wonderful, warm weather!
Here are 8 fun activities to try, one for each week of summer.
1. Make a Kite
Soar into some physics this summer, and study how kites fly! Flying a kite revolves around two important concepts: lift and drag. If you stick your hand out the window of a moving vehicle with your hand tilted clockwise, the force of the wind would push your hand up (this is lift) and back (this is drag). The interesting note is that lift and drag are mandatory consequences of the physics happening when flying a kite. You can’t have one without the other. Other important things you need are light materials and a tail. The light materials help it to be pushed up by the wind, and the tail helps it stay balanced as it flies. Here’s the fun part - it’s up to you to create your own kite and discover what materials work best and how long your tail should be to get the best balance in the air.
Here’s a Youtube video to give you some details on how you can build your own kite:
2. Build a Sandcastle
If you are a beach fanatic, this one's for you! Enjoy the sun, sand, water, and a little thing called surface tension! When water molecules are caused to be attracted to one another, this is when surface tension happens.On your trip to the beach, grab your buckets and shovels and discover how water and sand interact with one another. Surface tension is what makes wet sand the best for building a great sandcastle. The water molecules covering the grains of sand hold them together, filling the gaps between the grains. You need just the right amount of water. If you have too little water, the grains won't stick together, and surface tension can’t hold the sand grains together. If you have too much water, the sand just flows with the water and will be no good for forming shapes. How much water do you need to mix with the sand for it to form the shape you want?
Ready to get building?
Check out this video on How to Build a Sandcastle:
3. Shadow Fun
Shadows are the absence of light whereas light is a form of energy that travels in a straight line until it hits an object. If that light gets blocked by an object, a shadow is created on the other side of that object. The best source of light we have is the sun. Playing outdoors in the sun is the best way to see good shadows. Did you know that the angle at which a light hits an object also affects the size and shape of its shadow? In this activity, you’re going to put it to the test!
Find some objects that can stand up and place them on top of some paper in the morning. Take a pencil and trace the shapes of your objects. What do you notice about the shapes? Try doing the activity again later in the afternoon. Did you notice anything different? Record your findings!
4. The Power of the Sun
It’s time to discover how hot the sun can get. Did you know the hottest surface temperature ever recorded was 70.7℃? You can take a look at all the interesting earth temperature facts from Space.com. It is so fascinating that the amount of sunlight and heat that travels from the sun to Earth has been pre-designed to be just enough for us to live comfortably and not melt ourselves!
Now, let’s do some science! Grab a variety of objects (let the kids choose!) and a muffin tin and head on outside. These objects can be toys, crayons, food items - whatever you want to see what happens when it goes in the sun - but also things that you won’t mind getting melted! Place each object in the muffin tin and leave it directly in the sun for a few hours. Check in every hour to see the state of your objects. Make note of those items that melt and how long it took to melt completely, and make a note of things that did not melt in the sun. Everything has a melting point. If you’ve got a thermometer handy, take note of the different temperatures (if you decide to check multiple times throughout the day) and see when things start to melt.
5. The Breathing Leaf
If you’ve been studying plants, then this is a perfect application for your studies. If you haven’t, check out our article The Science of Fall for a study on leaves.
You’ll need three simple things: a clear bowl of lukewarm water, a leaf, and a small stone. First, fill your bowl with lukewarm water. (Make sure it’s a good size for your bowl so you can have the best experience and fill to about ¾ full so your leaf can be fully submerged.) Next, pick a fresh leaf from a tree or plant. This is important because it needs to still be “alive.” Place your leaf in the bowl and place a small rock on top to keep it fully under the water. Now, we wait! Give it a few hours. Maybe watch some videos on leaves and then come back to see the progress. To make it more fun, grab a magnifying glass if you have one and start looking for bubbles on the leaf. Your leaf is breathing! This is photosynthesis at work. Normally we can’t see the oxygen, but in water we can! Try it with different leaves, and see if you get the same or different results!
6. Sink or Float
This one is simple and lots of water fun for a hot day! Study density and water displacement in this science activity. Grab some items around the house (that you don’t mind getting wet) and head outside with a large bowl or a large bucket. Fill your bucket with water and grab a pen and paper to get started. Place your items in the water and make note whether it sinks or floats. Describe each object, if it’s heavy or light, what it’s made of, and how much water got displaced when you put it on.
For extra fun, take all the items that sink and have a race to see which one sinks faster. Why do they sink fast? Make sure you make notes of your scientific discoveries!
Try it out!
If you have access to a pool or ocean, you can really highlight this point by having your child curl up into a ball and see what happens (they sink) and then lay flat like a starfish and see what happens (they float!).
7. Walking Water Fun with Colours
Have you studied capillary action? Capillary action is a process during which a liquid, like water, moves up something solid, like a tube, or into a material with a lot of small holes. Capillary action is what happens in plants, and there are three forces called cohesion, adhesion, and surface tension that work together to make this happen. See it all in action with this fun activity.
You’ll need 5 glasses, water, food colouring (red, blue, yellow), something to stir, and 4 paper towels. Grab 5 glasses and fill three of them with water. Alternate the empty ones in between the glasses that are full. (It should be full, empty, full, empty, full.) Add the food colouring to each of the filled glasses. First red, the middle blue, and the last one yellow. Next, grab four pieces of paper towel and fold them down so they are just the right size to fit into the glasses. (This will differ depending on which glasses you use.) Place each paper towel in the glasses as shown below and watch the water “walk” up the paper towels, mixing the colours into the empty glasses in between. You can also try using different temperatures between glasses to see if that affects how fast the water moves up the paper towel.
For older kids, check out this Walking Water Experiment for a more detailed look at the science behind mixing colours.
8. Salt Volcano
Studying liquid density? Here’s a fun activity to try! Different liquids have different masses of molecules. Objects and liquids float on liquids of a higher density and sink through liquids of lower density. See it in action!
Grab 1 glass bottle or jar, 1 cup of lukewarm water, ¼ cup of vegetable oil, table salt, and food colouring (optional). First, add the water and add your food colouring of your choice if you decide to use it. Pour in the oil (but do not mix it). Then, sprinkle some salt and watch what happens. When you sprinkle the salt into the water-oil mixture, the salt sinks to the bottom. As it sinks, the oil clings to it. When the salt reaches the bottom, it will begin to dissolve, and as it does so, the oil that was on the salt rises to the top.
This experiment teaches kids about density. Oil is less dense than water, which is why it floats on the surface and why the escaped oil from the salt wants desperately to reach the top again. Salt is denser than water, which is why it must sink to the bottom.
Have fun exploring science this summer! If you’ve tried any of these experiments, share your pics with us on social media. We’d love to see your discoveries!
This article has been written by homeschooling staff writers of The Canadian Schoolhouse (TCS). Enjoy more of our content from TCS contributors and staff writers by visiting our themes page that has a new theme topic added every month!