Take your children outside, get wet and investigate a variety of math and science concepts while having fun in the summertime!
1. Spiky Crystals
Explore evaporation by growing crystals outdoors! All you need is epsom salt and hot water! Check out Exploratorium’s Spiky Sun Crystals!
To incorporate this into a fossil unit, grow crystals on a sponge to investigate permineralization, visit Layers of Learning!
2. Wet and Wild Water Balloon Math!
Division – Count up how many water balloons you have in all. Then, figure out how many you and your friends will get.
Fractions – Choose what color balloons you would like and figure out the fraction for each color.
Addition – Water balloon bullseye! Hit the target, aiming for the sections worth the most points. Keep track of your score. Make sure you watch where your balloon bursts! Also, you probably want to tape the target marks. Otherwise, your board will wash away!
Geometry – Measure your balloon’s circumference. What is the diameter and radius of one water balloon? Also, measure the length and width of your balloon. Can you figure out the volume?
Measuring – See who can throw their water balloon the farthest. Measure where the balloon lands.
Click here for water balloon experiments, involving gravity and potential / kinetic energy.
3. Squirt Gun Geometry
(Note: Use foam water shooters aka max liquidators instead of guns – no need for guns at school)
Fourth graders at Maine Memorial Elementary used squirt guns to practice measuring angles! They also made predictions of how far the water will shoot out when a squirt gun is held at different angles. How to: Have kids draw oversized angles on poster board. Then, have them fill up their guns and use their poster board angle as a guide. They hold their gun up to the angle line and shoot! Click here to see squirt gun math in action!
4. Speed Boat Chemical Reaction
Create a chemical reaction to make a boat go from ZOOM! Similar to Bag Bomb, this experiment explores the three states of matter. Kids mix baking soda and vinegar to create CO2 to make their soda bottle boat zoom!
empty soda bottle
marbles (or another object to weigh the boat down)
thumbtack or x-acto blade
a large tub of water
What to do:
1. First, put marbles in the bottle and test it in water. You want the boat to be submerged.
2. Take the boat out of water. Make a hole in the bottle cap for air to seep out (using x-acto or tack). The hole should be submerged in water (when you place the bottle in the water).
(Same instructions as Bag Bomb:)
3. Pull off a strip of toilet paper (three sheets connected) and pour baking soda on the strip.
4. Fold and form a pocket to hold the baking soda (or roll it)
5. Add vinegar (1/4 of the soda bottle)
6. Drop the baking soda pocket in the bottle
7. Fast: Put cap on and quickly place in water!
5. Bag Bomb
Create an explosion in a bag to explain the the three states of matter! LIQUID – Pour 1/4 cup of warm water into a ziploc bag. Next, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the water (food coloring optional). SOLID – In a tissue, dump 3 tsp. of baking soda. Fold the tissue up like a square. Then, close the bag up, leaving space to drop the pouch. Zip it up, let go of the pouch, and watch the bag expand – GAS! Soon the bag will look like a giant bubble. What’s happening inside: an acid-base reaction, creating CO2! QUICKLY, grab your bag and throw it! SPLAT, watch it pop!
6. H2O Race
I was inspired by Hooked on Science’s H2O Race (an experiment on cohesion); so, I created my own game board (shown above) to go along with a water cycle unit. Two different science lessons in one game! Kids learn about water cohesion and see three of the steps of the water cycle.
1. Print 2 copies of the game board (Click here and save image to desktop).
2. Cover the game boards with contact paper.
3. Place one drop of water near the start area on both boards.
4. Then, with a toothpick, each player “pulls” their drop of water along their game board.
5. Whoever reaches the finish line first wins!
Explanation – Water molecules are attracted to one another: Cohesion! If you scroll through Surf Ky’s Hooked on Science video channel, you can see the water cohesion game (above) in action!
7. Capacity Relay Race
Split kids up into 2 teams. Give each team a bucket of water and a sponge. Across from each team set up different sized containers (cup, liter, gallon -also can include- pint, quart, half gallon) in a line. Kids within a team take turns racing to fill a gallon of water!
First, they must fill up their cup by dipping the sponge into the bucket of water and squeezing the water out into the cup. Once the cup is filled, they dump it into the next item. The item won’t be filled after a single cup. So, the next team member races to fill up another cup. Once the bottle is filled, they write down how many cups it took to fill the bottle.
Then, they dump it into the next sized container. The water won’t fill up the container. They have to start racing to fill up a cup again and figure out how many cups will fill up this container.
The winner is the first team to fill up the last, largest container and have the correct answers written down (how many cups are in each container)!
8. Air Submarine
Can you keep a piece of paper dry if submerged in water? The power of air can! Crumple a piece of paper into a ball, wedge it tight inside of a cup, turn the cup upside down, and submerge it straight down into a pool of water. Lift the cup straight up, the paper remains dry! This is a great experiment to teach kids about air pressure and also when introducing gas as one of the states of matter. Even though we can’t see air, it’s there!
9. Aqua Scope
I saw this awesome activity on the Magic School Bus! Make your very own aqua scope to check out what lies beneath a pond, lake, river, or ocean! All you need is a plastic container (yogurt or cottage cheese container, milk jug / carton – anything will do). I used a bead container. All you do is cut a large hole in the bottom of your scope. Then, cover the bottom with saran wrap, rubber band, and head to your nearest aquatic ecosystem. Submerge the viewer into the water (don’t dunk it all the way under!), leaving the opening just above the water. You’ll be amazed at how your viewer suddenly gives you aqua vision power! Check out all the plants and organisms that all live together in one ecosystem. Talk about biotic (living) and abiotic (nonliving) components within an ecosystem.
10. Water Wheel Engineering
Integrate math (measuring), science / engineering (simple machines, force/motion, renewable energy), art (design), and history by constructing a water wheel!
Wired – Can you construct a water wheel that can lift a small load?
Science Buddies – “Put Your Water to Work,” exploring Hydropower!
Meet the Greens – Kids go green (water wheel featured bottom right)
History – water wheel / Types – get kids inspired (design) / Physics – water wheel