Make a splash with your fifth grader when school’s out with summer science activities. Kids love science because it’s hands-on and super cool. It’s the perfect time to experiment with fun STEM activities for kids that you can do right in the backyard or kitchen. Many experiments and science projects can be done with resources you have around the house. Not only do science activities keep away the boredom that inevitably sets in when school is over, but experiments also help keep kids tuned into school.
The “summer slide” is what educators call the loss of academic knowledge that occurs during the long break from school during the summer months. The best way to keep summer slide at bay is to actively engage kids in activities like science experiments while on vacations from school. Here are five fun ones to try with your 10-year-old.
If your kiddo likes spy stuff, an interesting experiment is to make invisible ink. The ink is nontoxic and works because the baking soda only damages the materials that make up the paper.
- Paintbrush or cotton swab
- Baking soda
- Measuring cup
- Grape juice
- Light source (optional)
- Mix 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of water in a container.
- Once mixed, use the toothpick, paintbrush, or cotton swab to write a message on a white piece of paper.
- Allow the message to dry.
- Wet the paintbrush or cotton swab with grape juice and paint over the message.
A chemical reaction between the acid in the grape juice and the sodium bicarbonate of the baking soda allows the message to be read. You can also use light or an iron to read the message, but the grape juice method is safer for fifth graders.
- Dry-erase marker
- Smooth surface like a plate (don’t use one of Mom’s good ones)
- Using a dry-erase marker, draw a simple stick figure or any type of doodle onto the plate.
- Slowly pour enough water to just cover the area where the figure was drawn.
- The doodle seems to come to life once it comes in contact with the water.
So why does the doodle float? The ink in dry-erase markers will not dissolve in water, and because its density is lighter than water, the doodle floats when the two substances interact.
Can you make s’mores in the driveway or fry an egg on the sidewalk? Making a solar oven is a sizzling way to show kids the wonders of solar energy.
- Personal pizza box
- Black construction paper
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic wrap
- Glue stick
- Craft knife or scissors
- Duct or Scotch tape
- Use the craft knife or scissors to cut a square hole in the lid of the pizza box to make an oven door (it’s best to let an adult do this part). The size of the hole depends on what you’re cooking.
- Cover the bottom of the pizza box with black construction paper using the glue stick.
- Cut a piece of aluminum foil to fit the inside of the oven door. Glue the piece to keep it in place.
- Tape plastic wrap over the inside of the lid.
- Place your s’more or whatever you’re trying to cook inside.
- Find a sunny spot outside for your oven. You may need to prop open the door with the aluminum foil. The foil should be at an angle. A wooden skewer works well.
The black construction paper absorbs the heat, while the aluminum foil reflects the sun’s heat into the pizza box. The plastic wrapping keeps the heat from escaping, allowing food to cook or melt if you’re making s’mores. Timewise, it will probably take over an hour. You can find recipes for tasty treats kids will love to make in their solar oven online.
If you have a garden, an interesting science experiment is helping kids understand what plants need to grow and thrive.
- Two small plant pots
- Sunflower seeds
- Using the pots, soil, and seeds, plant two sunflower plants.
- Place one in a sunny area and the other in a spot where the plant receives very little sunlight.
- Water the plant in the sunny area daily or every other day, and only water the plant in the shady spot once a week.
Talk about which plant your 10-year-old thinks will grow better and why. Watch and see what happens. Then, discuss how plants need sunlight and water to grow.
Kids are fascinated by tornadoes, and it’s not difficult to make one in a bottle.
- Plastic soda bottle
- Fill bottle three-fourths full of water.
- Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of glitter using the funnel.
- Put the lid on tight.
- Turn the bottle upside down and quickly stir things up with a circular motion for about 20 seconds.
- Place the bottle down on its lid and watch the tornado form.
Using the glitter shows how the water vortex forms from the centripetal force of the circular motion.
Science is such a wonderful way to keep academic skills sharp during the summer. Ten-year-olds love science because it is hands-on. You and your fifth grader can have fun with these five science experiments. The best part? Science is so cool that kids don’t even realize it’s educational.
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