Fun and Engaging Science activities!

Well I've just finished my last week of Summer Academy! (the day camp at my school). It was a wonderful experience, but I'm glad to have some weeks off to relax and prepare for the upcoming year. This week's theme was Science: Definitely Not Boring! and I wanted to share some experiments that I did with my students (ages 3-12). I don't get to teach science during the year (we're departmentalized), so this was a fun challenge for me.

Monday: I did a Sink or Float experiment. I started off with some basic materials, but then did some different ones that impressed/surprised the kids (and me!). In addition to regular sink/float objects (a marble, a sponge, a cork, a rock, etc.) I tested a regular orange (floats) and then a peeled orange (sinks because the peel holds in air). I also plopped in a ball of Play-doh (sinks) and then shaped it into a boat (floats). Lastly, I filled two containers with water and in one I put a boiled egg (sinks) and then in the other, I dissolved salt and then placed a  boiled egg in it (floats). With the older kids I discussed the concepts of density and the differing weights that objects have. With the younger kids, we completed an activity sheet differentiating between objects that sink and float.

*Update: I have created a Sink or Float activity packet which can be purchased through my TpT store:

Tuesday: To give the students a tangible, hands-on lesson we created our own quicksand using corn starch and water. Just mix the two ingredients and watch the "quicksand" take effect. We placed plastic toys in the bowl and watched them sink. Then we used our fingers to feel the pull of the mixture. I taught them quick sand safety (hey - you never know) about how flailing about makes you sink faster, but slowing down allows someone to pull themselves out of quick sand. We illustrated this by zooming our fingers around and feeling the pull and then slowing down our fingers and realizing how easy it was to pull them out.

Wednesday: We had a "rockin'" Wednesday as we discussed the different types of rocks (Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary). I read them questions from a True-False book (see picture below) and awarded points - boys vs. girls - for correct answers. We then discussed geodes, or hollowed-out rocks with crystals growing inside. I used a hammer to split the geodes and the kids went wild when we found crystals growing inside. We then played "4 Corners" with the three types of rocks (plus Geodes to make 4). My students are nuts for this game and it really helps them with the vocabulary. With the oldest group, I had them define the terms when they called the corners, while the younger groups were just practicing saying the correct names.

Thursday: Things got a little wiggly, slimy, and sticky today as we made Oooey-Gooey Slime! It was a very easy experiment and definitely a winner with the kids! All you need is a  bottle of clear glue (Elmer's) and about 1/2 c. liquid starch (can be found at Wal-Mart or at a grocery store - in the laundry detergent aisle). After these two ingredients are mixed together, you can add a couple drops of food coloring to make your slime come alive! The students had a blast grabbing handfuls of the slime and letting it run through their fingers - the more squeamish ones gingerly touched with one finger and squealed :) The slime will keep for a few days if it's stored in a Ziploc or air-tight container. 

Friday: To end our week we did various experiments dealing with our 5 senses.

Sight: We tested the effect that water has on our vision by placing first a straw and then a pencil in a tall glass of water and observed the effects. The straw looks disconnected where the water line is and the bottom half of the pencil looks swollen.
Hearing: We played "Broken Telephone" where a message gets passed around the circle. I then had them cover their ears and read my lips to discover what I was saying. One or two words was simple for them, but once I started whispering sentences, they could not longer understand and began to appreciate their ears in new ways.
Smell: I called students up, blind-folded them, and then had them smell and try to identify certain items
Touch: We touched the slime that was created yesterday (I left a batch out on the counter to see if the consistency would change - and it did!) and compared/contrasted how it felt yesterday (slimy, wet, gooey) to today (cold, slick, and smooth)
Taste: What kid doesn't like soda? And what kid doesn't like it when things fizz and bubble unexpectedly? My point exactly - and that's what we did today. I mixed lemon juice and water and then added in a tsp of baking soda, which created bubbles and added a fizzy texture. We added some sugar and it actually tasted like a lemonade soda you might find at the grocery store! Food and science: does it get any better? I think not!

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