I am planning to get a few of my son's friends over on a weekly basis during the summer to conduct simple science experiments. They are in the 6-8 year range. Any ideas? (P.S. The more amusing and amazing, the better).
I have seen lots of great science experiment books at the library. We had a science kit when I was a kid that was a lot of fun, I don't remember all that it had in it but one thing was making rock candy - all kids like that. Go to the library though, you will find lots of great ideas. You can also search for "lesson plans" on any search engine and you will find lots of sites where teachers have written lesson plans for all subjects and grade levels, I am sure there will be age-appropriate experiments on many of the sites.
Here is good site to look at...Science made simple for kids and tested by kids!! They have Elementary science projcts & experiments for kids.
Here is a link that might be useful: Science Made Simple
Make bread and watch it rise... yummy. Make some cheese... yummy. Make some wine... yummy for moms!
There are a gazillion activities online, in bookstores, and at the library. Smithsonian puts out some good books. Exploratorium has a great website. Try gardening, bubbles, kitchen chemistry (makeing slime is great). I'm sure the kids will have a blast!
Here are two ideas.
Take an old turpentine or mineral spirits can. Take the top off. Run the can under hot water for a while to get the metal hot. It might help to rinse the can with hot water while you're at it. The point is, you need to get the air inside good and hot. Then, screw the top on tight (it really does have to be tight!) and immerse the can in ice water. As the air inside cools, the can will crumple. This illustrates two things: a simplified and non-quantitative version of the ideal gas law, namely that cooling air reduces the pressure it exerts; and the power of atmospheric pressure.
For a second experiment, heat the base of a short candle and stick it upright in the middle of a casserole dish. Fill the dish halfway with water. Put some dinner knives flat around the candle. Light the candle. Put a tall jar over the candle resting on the knives. As the candle burns, it will remove oxygen from the air in the jar. Water will rise in the jar as if by magic. When the oxygen is all gone, the candle will go out. This illustrates the fact that flame needs oxygen, another simplified version of the ideal gas law (less gaseous material exerts less pressure), and the power of atmospheric pressure.
Wear goggles for both of these experiments, especially the second -- the flame could cause the jar to shatter.
Let me know how these work out for you if you try them!
One of the dads at my son's Cub Scout campout did this really simple one and the boys LOVED it - worked at it for over 2 hours.
Take a 2 liter pop bottle (or soda bottle if you live out East LOL), cut out 4 "fins" from cardboard and tape them on with ductape, to make a rocket that will stand up with the bottle opening at the bottom.
Have prepared: a foot pump (like you use for bike tires) with a rubber stopper that fits firmly into the bottle opening, with the inflation needle stuck all the way through the stopper.
Fill the bottle rocket 1/3 full of water, insert the stopper, sit it upright on the ground, and let the kid pump it up until it launches. The boy will get drenched as the bottle goes up about 80 ft. IT IS SO MUCH FUN~ ESPECIALLY ON A HOT DAY!~ it also teaches about air pressure.
Thank you for your response so far. I was particularly pleased to get some actual experiments and direction to specific websites. The first week, I did a color wheel to show that all of the colors blend into white; then I posed the question, "Why is the sky blue?" After each of the kids had speculated as to why they thought the sky was blue, I used a bowl of water, mirror and blank paper to show how light refracts when it hits the mirror in water into all the colors of the rainbow. From there, we discussed how the various colors have different wave lengths (we drew pictures of a wavy-rainbow) and that led us into a discussion of how the light from the sun reflects off of particles in the atmosphere and how the lower energy (larger wave colors) are absorbed into the gases in the atmosphere. Blue and violet, being higher energy (tighter waved colors) are not absorbed and are reflected off everywhere to result in a blue looking sky. I was amazed when one of the kids observed - on his own - that he now understood why the "sky" in space is black . . . no atmosphere! After we discussed the atmosphere some more, I asked the kids whether air took up space. At that point, we went inside and did Frogman's second experiment with a candle and casserole dish. The kids loved it when the water level rose as the candle burnt up the oxygen under the jar. Next week I am going to try Momma Bird's experiement. I need to learn more about fermentation before try doing anything with it. If you have any more suggestions, keep them coming. M
You could search for Monarch cats on milkweed plants and take them home to raise, having my kids involved with this last summer was a wonderful and educational experience!! You would have to provide fresh milkweed of course everyday, and clean their containers...but ANY "work" is certainly well WORTH IT!!:)
This is a great link for just the sort of thing you are looking for. I have done the one with the raisins and soda with a group of second graders before and they were fascinated.
Here is a link that might be useful: PBS Newtons science Try Its!
I tried Mommabird's rocket -- it worked well, and my kids were quite amused, though it went up only about 40 feet, even with repeated tries. Coat the fins with packing tape to keep them dry!
I did another old standby with my kids this morning -- I made an electromagnet, similar to those used in electric fans. I wrapped a long bit of wire around a large iron bolt, then touched the exposed ends of the wire to opposite poles of a D-cell battery. You can use it to pick up nails, etc. It illustrates the connection between electricity and magnetism. I wrapped the whole thing together with electrical tape. Next, I plan to run a permanent magnet by it and monitor the charge on the wires with a voltmeter.
Here are a few improvements for the bottle rocket. Cut the fins out of another plastic bottle. Make a parachute out of a plastic grocery bag. Cut the bottom 1/4 off of another bottle. Poke a hole in the bottom of it. Run the strings for the parachute through the hole and tie in a large knot. Place the cut bottle over the bottle of the bottle (top of the rocket) duct tape into place.
how do lungs work ...
Take one small plactic bottle with a large opening (such as gatorade bottle) cut out the bottom.
Stretch a baloon over the mouth of the bottle and push the rest of the baloon into the bottle. Cut the neck off of another baloon so it will fit over the bottom of the bottle. Pull it tight across the bottom so no extra baloon hangs down. Pull down on the bottom baloon. The baloon in the bottle (that is streched over ther mouth of the bottle) should inflate. This shows how we use our diaphrams to take air into our lungs.
My continuing thanks. I have (successfully) tried all your suggestions. If you have any more, please let me know.
At my site I have a page with numerous science projects about the laws of vacuum that are very cool and fun to do. However you will need a vacuum sealer to do them but I offer that at my site too. Very inexspensive and when you are done amazing the kids, you can use it around the house!
as a graduate elementary education student, I have found numerous science activities from the science experiment books in the children's section of my town's local library...
You can tell about gravitational force.By throwing an object and tell it always come down due to earth's gravitational force.
Demonstrate that, outdoors, reflected light may be polarized. Needed equipment is a pair of polarized sun glasses or a good polarizing filter for camera work. Go outside in sunlight and face the sun, then view the surface of water or a smooth road at a distance. Look through the polarizer and rotate it to see its effect. When the polarization is horizontal, maximum light comes through and when its vertical, minimum light is admitted. It also changes the color of the sky. The glare off shiny auto hoods can be cut by rotating the polarized filter. (If you buy the right size, the polarizer can be used on your camera.)
Make a can and string "telephone". Equipment: 2 metal cans and low stretch string. The bottom of the cans should not be too stiff. Stretchy string is not as good as non-stretch string. In years past, I'd have used the fine cord for moving the needle across a radio dial. Today, hard woven fishing line might be best. Pur a small hole in the bottom of the cans and I think that you know the rest. If the bottom of the cans are too stiff, it will not work well. Those annular rings in the bottom are stiffeners. Flatten these out to render the bottom more flexible.
Surface tension propelled boat.
Equipment. A shallow pan of water, softened bar soap, and small flat board maybe like a tongue depressor. A piece of cardboard might do for a short while.
Cut the "boat' about 1 to 1.5 inches long. Cut a narrow notch in back back and jam in a piece of soft soap. When the water very still in the pan, gently place the 'boat' on the water's surface and watch what happens. This will work until the water becomes too soapy. When it does, pour it out and get some more water.
Tree leaves have breathing holes.
Equipment: Low power microscope and fresh tree leaves.
Tree leaves do have microscopic pores on the underside and it does not require very high magnification see these. This is where the tree passes water vapor to the atmosphere.
See pop corn pop.
A kernel of corn 'pops' when the moisture inside goes above the boiling point and then bursts the kernel. When the tough outer shell splits, the inside explodes with the sudden release of pressure and the moisture in the cells expands the cells.
Put some cooking oil in a cooking pot or heavy skillet, add a few kernels of popping corn and close the pot with a clear pyrex lid. Wear eye protection and proceed to observe the corn when it pops. Ordinary field corn will pop, but commercial popping corn works the best.
To speed up the process, preheat the pot before adding corn.