Activities from Science Discovery Night

At our most recent family event, we invited parents to explore science activities and experiments with their children.  We loved this event because it gave each child more one on one time with an adult to discuss the science concepts involved with the activities. The following are descriptions of the various stations we had available.

Let It Go! (Physics)

Materials 

Balls and similar objects made of different materials

“Science Experiment Record” Sheet

Procedure
  1. Hold tennis ball and/or let child hold tennis ball at shoulder height.
  2. Ask the child what she thinks will happen when you let go.
  3. Let go of the ball and discuss what happened.
  4. Show child other balls and objects and ask, "What will happen with these other balls and objects after you let go and after they hit the ground? "
  5. Let child choose one object at a time and make a hypothesis (and write it down, optional).
  6. For each object, test the hypothesis.
  7. Observe what happens.
  8. Record your observation. (optional)
  9. Choose another object and continue with as many objects as you would like.
  10. Review and analyze your results. Did the objects react as you expected? Why or why not?
  11. Share your results with another person.
  12.  Vocabulary

Gravity, experiment, hypothesis, observe, record, analyze


What Dissolves in Water? Experiment (Chemistry)

Materials

Clear containers

Spoons

Water

Assorted materials to test: Salt, Pepper, Baking Soda, Aluminum Foil Pieces

“Science Experiment Record” Sheet

Procedure
  1. Put water into a clear container.
  2. For each different material (salt, etc) ask the child what she thinks will happen if you put a small amount of the material in the water and stir.
  3. Write the hypothesis down. (optional)
  4. Let the child put a small amount of the material in the water and stir. Observe.
  5. What happened?
  6. Record their observation. (optional)
  7. Choose another material and repeat.
  8. Review and analyze your results.
  9. Share your results with another person.
  10. Vocabulary

Experiment, hypothesis, observe, record, analyze, dissolve.

Making Goop (Chemistry)

 Materials

Containers

Spoons

Water

Cornstarch

Measuring cups (optional)

Questions

What do you think will happen if we add water to the cornstarch?

What did happen?

What does it look like? What does it feel like? (etc.)

Procedure

Put some cornstarch in a container.

Add small amounts of water until you think it is goop.

You may need to use trial and error to get the consistency right.

Play with it!!!!!

Vocabulary

Cornstarch, water, stir, mix, mixture, wet, dry, and any descriptive words that come to mind! 

Planting Seeds (Botany)

Materials Needed

Sections of egg cartons (any containers will work including yogurt cups and garden pots)

Soil

Seeds

Spoons

Water

Markers

Procedure

Write child’s name on the egg carton.

Have child spoon soil into the egg carton.  (Pack it down a little)

Have child put 1-3 seeds into each section by poking holes in the soil and then covering the seeds.

Have child water the seeds. 

Take home and observe the seeds daily.

Vocabulary

Seeds, soil, water, grow, plants, names of specific plants you are planting, sunlight, roots, stem, leaves, flowers.

 

Elephant Toothpaste (Chemistry)

This is a kid-safe version of the popular Elephant's Toothpaste demonstration using common household materials. A child with a great adult helper can safely do this activity and the results are exciting.


Materials Needed

16 oz empty plastic bottle (preferably with a narrow neck such as a water bottle)

1/2 cup 20-volume hydrogen peroxide (6%) (but type from grocery store works too)

Squirt of Dawn dish detergent

3-4 drops of food coloring (optional)

1 teaspoon yeast dissolved in approximately 2 tablespoons very warm water

Funnel

Tray with high sides

Procedure
  1. Have one child help mix 1 teaspoon of yeast in a cup with 2 tablespoons of very warm water.
  2. Stand the bottle up in the center of the tray. Put the funnel in the opening.  Pour the peroxide through the funnel into the bottle. (Food coloring can be added before or after adding the peroxide.)
  3. Add the Dawn detergent to the peroxide in the bottle.
  4. Pour the yeast mixture into the bottle and quickly remove the funnel.
  5. The students can touch the bottle to feel any changes that take place.
  6. How does it work?

The addition of the yeast is a catalyst, which makes the peroxide molecule release the oxygen atom faster. This oxygen added to the soap creates bubbles.  The more bubbles there are the bottle, the higher they come up and eventually come out of the bottle.

Observations

The reaction creates foam that shoots up out of the bottle and pools in the pan. After a minute or so, it begins to come out in a moving stream that looks like toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube. The students can play with the foam as it is just soap and water with oxygen bubbles. The bottle will feel warm to the touch as this is an exothermic reaction.

Vocabulary

Yeast, dissolve, hydrogen peroxide, chemicals, chemical reaction, catalyst, oxygen, foam, temperature, exothermic reaction

 

Shooting Stars and Rockets (Physics)

Materials Needed

2 plastic cups per child

2 rubber bands per child

Scissors

Duct tape

Regular tape

Star or Rocket picture (or both)

Crayons

Procedure

Check out this blog for photos of how to make these Shooting Stars and Rockets.

Have the child color the star and/or the rocket picture. 

Help child cut 4 small slits in one of the cups.  Slits should be1-2 inches long.

Use duct tape at the end of the slits to keep the slits from getting longer.

Tie knots at both ends of each rubber band. Stretch each rubber band across the top of the cup and into the slits. 

Turn the cup over and tape star or rocket picture onto the cup.

Place 2nd cup onto the floor and put the star/rocket cup on top of the 2nd cup.  Press down and release!

Explanation

This activity uses elastic potential energy to power our shooting stars and rockets.  When you stretch a rubber band, energy is stored in the rubber band.  When you release the cup, this energy makes the cup fly.  Let the children discover the more you stretch the rubber band, the more energy. Real rockets and real shooting stars are not powered by rubber bands! Rockets are powered by rocket fuel. Shooting stars are actually meteoroids (tiny bits of dust and rock) falling into the earth’s atmosphere and burning up.

 

Exploring Magnets (Physics)

Materials

Magnets

Objects that are magnetic

Objects that are not magnetic

Something to hide objects in (i.e. sandbox)

Questions
  1. What are these? (allow child to name magnets and any of the objects they find)
  2. Why does the magnet pick this up?
  3. Why doesn’t the magnet pick this up?
  4. What is this made of? (steel, aluminum, plastic, etc.)

Procedure

Allow children to explore the magnets and the objects in the sensory table.  Let them discover that some objects are magnetic and others are not. Encourage them to talk about what they are doing and what they are learning about magnets.