Need a few ideas for keeping your kids busy this summer? Motivate them to problem-solve on their own with hands-on science activities. Each of the activities below provides a basic setup, and then it’s up to the kids to come up with their own ideas, try things out and see what works. The supplies listed below are only suggestions to get you started, so feel free to use other materials.
The goal for this activity is to design a parachute that falls slowly. Gather a few materials, and then talk with your kids about different ideas they could try.
One plastic bag
One sheet from a Post-it® Big Pad
A piece of fabric
A piece of string
A paper hole puncher
A pair of scissors
Something to act as a weight, like a little toy, action figure, small rock, etc.
Let your kids build the parachute, reminding them that they want it to fall as slowly as possible. Once the parachute is built, have them find a high spot where they can test it out. This could be as simple as holding it up as high as they can and then dropping it.
After they record the time it takes for the parachute to get to the ground, have them go back to their materials, design the parachute a different way and test it out again.
Have some little detectives in your house? Here’s a fun activity that will keep them busy learning about fingerprints. You can collect fingerprints in a couple of different ways.
Baby powder or corn starch
Scotch® Magic™ Tape
A small brush, like a paintbrush
A piece of black construction paper
First option: Have your kids press their fingers onto a clean surface, like a kitchen countertop. Then have them sprinkle some baby powder or corn starch over the area they touched. Use a small brush and gently brush away the powder. This should reveal the prints. Place Scotch® Magic™ Tape tape on top of the print, lift the tape off, and then stick it onto a piece of black construction paper.
Second option: Use a pencil to draw a shaded area on a piece of paper. Rub your finger over the shaded area until your fingertip is covered with graphite from the pencil. Press a piece of Scotch® Magic™ Tape over your finger and then press the tape onto a new piece of paper.
Your kids can try both options, and then talk about why one is better than the other or how each option could be used in different situations. Try a variety of surfaces in the kitchen and around the house. Challenge kids to see how many fingerprints they can collect. Have everyone in the family touch a different surface, and then your kids can figure out who touched which surface.
For this activity, see how high you can stack Post-it® Notes to support the weight of a small toy car.
There are dozens of ways to stack Post-it® Notes. Have your kids think about what they can do to make the sheets stronger and stack them higher. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
Roll them up to look like little paper towel rolls, and then stack the rolls.
Make some zigzag folds and stand them up vertically.
Fold them into three-dimensional squares.
Use the adhesive to stick them together.
See how imaginative your kids can be by limiting materials to only Post-it Notes. Or, you may decide to allow the use of other materials like string, Scotch® Magic™ Tape, etc. You can also use other objects, like pennies or plastic cups, in place of the toy car.
These are just a few ideas to inspire your kids. Have fun watching what the next generation of product designers, scientists and engineers can do!