Summer Science - FamilyEducation

Summer Science

June 02,2009
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

Yesterday I wrote about how we were moving into summer mode at Professor Mom's house--trying to organize activities for the kids and working them around our own summer school teaching schedules. I've written before about how difficult it is to come up with challenging craft activities for L. to enjoy, and we decided together to focus on doing at least one fun and interesting science experiment each week this summer. So this past weekend we launched Summer Science, and the kids and I sat down and devised a list of all the science experiments we most wanted to do over the course of the summer. Here is L.'s list--he's been very fascinated with chemistry lately and, in fact, has already requested this for his birthday this summer: Making tear gas (um, not sure about THIS one) Cork bottle rockets Volcano and/or any other type of bubbling, explosive experiment Crystal growing Scratch holograms Spy techniques T.'s list is very T.-like: Making bubbles Making salt dough Anything involving colors Planting flowers I spent the weekend surfing the internet in search of links to suitable homemade science experiments--ones involving little or no expense, and ones which I could link to L.'s growing interest in chemistry, and T.'s developing awareness of some of the basic scientific properties--force and motion, matter, and energy. This site is a wonderful resource and we found lots of interesting activities here, and here and at our favorite place. There are great resources right here at Family Education, especially for activities for younger kids. ******** For our inaugural Summer Science experiment we decided to start out fairly simply. We made "Fog in a Bottle" and "Clouds in a Bottle" and both experiments are simple, and easy for you to do at home. Clouds in a Bottle didn't work out so great, but I found conflicting instructions on various sites. We did manage to create one small, ethereal cloud in the bottle, and it danced around a bit before vanishing in a puff. The best part of the experiment was discovering that the rubber stretched over the jar opening made for an excellent drum. Drumming Here's what you'll need for Fog in a Bottle: Supplies Fill the glass jar almost the whole way up with hot water. Then, empty the jar, leaving about two inches of water in the bottom (you'll need to wrap a dish towel around the jar and tell the kids not to touch the glass--it will be HOT). Put a strainer over the top, and fill with ice cubes. Watch and wait. Watching and waiting After a few moments little swirls of fog will begin to appear in the jar. This is where you can launch into an explanation of how fog is created. The kids wondered if adding food coloring to the hot water might make colored fog, which it didn't--but it was fun to try! What will we try next week? I'm not sure yet, but it will probably involve these: Next up