We aren’t sure about you, but we have really been loving the warmer temperatures we’ve been experiencing! In honor of Spring and warmer temperatures, our Burlington math tutors thought we’d share a few activities that will get your child some much-needed outdoor time while also teaching them about a few scientific concepts. These are all super fun for kids of all ages, super engaging, and, best of all, educational! Some of them even involve a little bit of mathematical thinking.
Here are 4 simple outdoor science experiments you should try with your child ASAP!
Not only does this activity teach children about solar energy and radiation, but it also produces a tasty treat at the end! Sounds like a win-win to us!
For this experiment, you’ll need:
- An empty pizza box or other similar style box
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic wrap
- A box cutter/knife
- A stick
- Graham crackers
- Use your box cutter or knife to cut a semi square into the lid of the pizza box. Cut the two sides and front, but not the back end of the pizza box, to form a flap. Take a look at the diagram below to see precisely what we mean.
- Have your child help you line the inside of the box with foil, as well as the bottom of the flap. Use glue or tape to help you do so. You can also line the bottom of the box with black paper, if you have some. Either works just fine!
- Cover the opening left by the flap with plastic wrap.
- Make some delicious s’more’s and place them into the “solar oven” by opening the pizza box and placing them inside.
- Find a stick to prop open the flap.
- Set the solar oven out in direct sunlight and watch the sun work its magic! Enjoy the s’more’s!
At the end of the experiment, explain to your child how the sun produces lots of solar energy that is sent to the earth in the form of solar radiation. With the help of the aluminum foil, this solar radiation is converted into heat energy, and consequently able to melt the marshmallows and chocolate. If you need help explaining this concept, Science U has a great video that explains it further.
(Image from Science U)
This experiment will exhibit water’s incredible ability to travel, even up and down things!
For this activity, you will need:
- 3 empty glasses that are the same size
- Paper towels
- Food coloringâ€‹
Image from Coffee Cups and Crayons
- Fill two jars to the top with water and add a different color of food coloring to each jar.
- Grab the last empty glass and put it in the middle of the two filled jars, putting the 3 jars in a row.
- Next, take a half sheet of a paper towel and fold it into quarters. Place one end of the paper towel in the first jar and the other end in the empty jar. Do the same with the last jar, placing one end in the empty jar and the other in the last jar.
- Have your child come back every 15-30 minutes and observe the differences. For older children, have them record the differences in a notebook, whether they draw pictures, write down estimated measurements, or whatever tactic they prefer. After a few hours, the middle jar will fill up with water until all the water levels in the jars are equal.
At the end of the experiment, talk with your child about the concept of capillary action, where the water climbs the paper towels into the empty jar. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, capillary action is defined as, “the movement of water within the spaces of a porous material due to the forces of adhesion, cohesion, and surface tension.” Here's a great video to watch that explains this concept very well.
Plant Growth Race
This is an excellent, hands-on activity for younger children especially to learn about plants and how they grow.
For this experiment, you will need:
- 4 plants that are the same type and roughly the same size
- 4 different liquids to water the plants (maybe tap water, river water, salt water, and carbonated water, but use whatever your child is most interested in)
- 4 small pots
- Plant each plant in their own pot and label each pot with the liquid you’re going to water it with.
- Explain that each day, you all are going to water the plants with the same amount of liquid, but that each plant will only receive their designated liquid. Have them write down their predictions about what will happen with each plant.
- Each day, have your child make observations about the plant. For older children, have them keep a detailed data chart with observations and even measurements of growth.
- Do this for about 2 weeks. At the end of the activity, have your child compare the results to what they predicted might happen.
After the experiment is done, review the process of photosynthesis with your child and discuss why they think the results of your experiment occurred. If you need a simple video that discusses the phenomenon of photosynthesis, here’s a great one to watch.
Ice Vs. Salt
This interesting experiment will teach your child about salt’s ability to melt ice.
For this experiment, you’ll need:
- Food coloring or liquid watercolors
- Bowls or containers to make ice
- Fill a few bowls with water and put them in a freezer overnight.
- The next day, loosen the ice from the containers with a little warm water and place them outside in a shaded area. This experiment can be done inside, but, since it can get a little messy, we recommend doing it outside!
- Have your child sprinkle some salt over top of the ice structure. The ice should immediately begin to melt in some places!
- Once the ice starts melting noticeably, have your child squeeze a bit of food coloring or liquid watercolor onto the ice. This will help to highlight the ravines where the salt has melted the ice.
- Talk with your child about how the ice seems to melt faster in places where the salt was.
- Repeat this process until the ice has melted completely.
After the experiment, talk with your child about how the chemical makeup of salt can disrupt the freezing point of water, consequently melting ice. If you’d rather watch a simple explanatory video about this process, here’s a great one to watch.
After Some Fun Outside, Visit Our Burlington Math Tutors to Sharpen and Maintain Your Child’s Math Skills!
As the school year is coming to a close, let us help ensure that your child has a thorough understanding of the math concepts taught to them, allowing them to end this year with a bang! Call now at (336) 792-7000 to schedule a FREE trial, or to enroll your child at our exceptional math tutoring center in Burlington.