Science: Understanding the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation. –Merriam-Webster
Children are born scientists. They learn about their world by:
- Exploring what’s around them with their senses – seeing, touching, smelling, tasting, and listening
- Trying to do things again and again until it works the way they want it to, or they discover a new way to do it
- Observing what happens
- Asking questions like why? What if? How come?
- Watching those who mean the most to them do things
Summer is the perfect time to take science outdoors. Nature itself provides a wonderful, ready made lab to observe changes in the life cycles of plants and animals. Helping to water plants, tending to a small part of a garden, or watching for various critters on a walk through the river valley or the back yard, helps children develop the skills they will need later on in school. How many different types of trees do you see on the walk? Did you know that many children can list more marketing logos than they can types of trees? Talk about the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees and what types of birds like to build their nests in them. A book from the library on plants or birds can help identify them in your neighbourhood.
Activities such as these help children understand that science is everywhere and they build early skills that will serve them for a lifetime.
There are plenty of messy experiments that cost very little but provide an opportunity to develop a love of science. The simple act of blowing bubbles can teach children so much. How can I make huge bubbles? Does the wind direction make a difference? What’s the right ratio of water to soap that will make the sturdiest bubbles? What happens if I twirl round and round with my bubble wand full of solution? Here are two bubble recipes to try with your little scientists:
Home Made Bubble Solution
- ¾ cup Joy or Dawn dishwashing soap
- 2 cups water
- 3 tsps. Sugar
- Mix the sugar and water together
- Add the dish soap and stir gently until well mixed
- Dip bubble wand into bubble liquid and then blow
Giant Bubble Mix
- 3 cups water
- I cup Joy or Dawn dishwashing soap
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- In a large bowl stir water and corn syrup until combined
- Add dish soap and stir very gently until well mixed
- Make a bubble wand out of pipe cleaners or string
Another great way to explore science is by experimenting with Goop (a mixture of corn starch and water). Did you know that cornstarch and water can form a non-Newtonian fluid? What is that you ask? When you press on the mixture it becomes a solid, but when you release the pressure it runs like a liquid. This is definitely one experiment that can go outside and the whole family can have fun with it. Hide treasures in the Goop for them to discover, and try to squeeze it into a ball and then release it. You can even put it in a plastic swimming pool and walk through it.
- 1 ½ to 2 cups cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- food colouring if you want
- Put the water in a bowl and add a few drops food colouring if you want colour
- Gradually add 1½ cups cornstarch to the water and stir with a spoon or your hand
- A little at a time, add the remaining ½ cup of cornstarch. When you can form a ball by pressing the mixture and it turns into a liquid when you release it, it is ready. If you add too much or too little you can always adjust with more water or more cornstarch.
* DO NOT DUMP ANY LEFT OVER GOOP INTO THE SEWER OR DRAIN.
Let the water evaporate from the mixture and then put it in a plastic bag or container and throw it out with your garbage. As it dries, it resembles concrete and you don’t want to have to call a plumber.
Children are born scientists. It can be easy and inexpensive to set up fun activities for them to explore their world. The best part is when the whole family gets messy together! Have fun experimenting this summer.
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