This mechanical weathering experiment teaches kids why and how rocks break down or erode. Take two pieces of clay, form them into balls, and wrap them in plastic wrap. Then, leave one out while placing the other in the freezer overnight. The next day, unwrap and compare them. You can repeat freezing the one piece of clay every night for several days to see how much more cracked and weathered it gets than the piece of clay that wasn’t frozen. It may even begin to crumble. This weathering also happens to rocks when they are subjected to extreme temperatures, and it’s one of the causes of erosion.
As you wonder and ask questions, experiments will let you watch chemical reactions as they happen. Even something as simple as writing a secret message on the bathroom mirror with a cotton swab and dish detergent can teach you about science. When the bathroom fills with warm steam from a shower, your message will appear like magic on the mirror. It’s not really magic, though. The dish detergent on the mirror is preventing water molecules in the steam from sticking together, so you can see the letters you wrote earlier.
The word “oobleck” comes from a Dr. Seuss story where a young boy must rescue his kingdom from a sticky substance. But the neat part of this experiment is how oobleck reacts to vibrations. Put the oobleck over a subwoofer (on top a cookie sheet!) and watch it dance to difference frequencies. Your dancer will see how sound isn’t just about volume! Check out more of this awesome experiment from Tammy of Housing a Forest.
3. Now remove about an inch of the plastic coating from both ends of the wire and attach the one wire to one end of a battery and the other wire to the other end of the battery. (It is best to tape the wires to the battery – be careful though, the wire could get very hot!) Now you can experiment by picking up paper clips and small non-aluminum objects.
A nature journal is a great way to encourage kids to be creative and really pay attention to what’s going on around them. All you need is a blank journal (you can buy one or make your own) along with something to write with. Then just go outside and encourage your children to write or draw what they notice. This could include descriptions of animals they see, tracings of leaves, a drawing of a beautiful flower, etc. Encourage your kids to ask questions about what they observe (Why do birds need to build nests? Why is this flower so brightly colored?) and explain to them that scientists collect research by doing exactly what they’re doing now.
This solar energy science experiment will teach kids about solar energy and how different colors absorb different amounts of energy. In a sunny spot outside, place six colored pieces of paper next to each other, and place an ice cube in the middle of each paper. Then, observe how quickly each of the ice cubes melt. The ice cube on the black piece of paper will melt fastest since black absorbs the most light (all the light ray colors), while the ice cube on the white paper will melt slowest since white absorbs the least light (it instead reflects light). You can then explain why certain colors look the way they do. (Colors besides black and white absorb all light except for the one ray color they reflect; this is the color they appear to us.)