Outdoor Science Experiments Perfect for Summer

Rainbows peeping between two baubles of clouds, bright, wild flowers adding a splash of colors to the backyard, slushy strawberry sauces dripping from tall glasses of vanilla ice cream – that pretty much sums up summers! It’s the ideal time to set up science work stations outdoors and experiment with the wonders of summers! Carry out these fun science experiments and amidst the warmth of summer, in your backyard, garden, community park, or elsewhere!

6807424348_d6916a33f3_zImage Source – https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevensnodgrass/6807424348/

Homemade water sprinkler

Summers are synonymous with cool drinks but it’s not very cool to dispose off the plastics in which the drinks come, so we’ve devised this fun science experiment with the not-so-cool plastic bottles.

You will need:

  • A plastic soda bottle
  • Pins
  • Water

Directions

  • Head out, it’s summer.
  • Fill the plastic bottle with water and screw on the cap.
  • Using a pin, make 5 evenly spaced holes on the side of the bottle, towards the bottom.
  • Run your finger along the streams of water that are gushing from the bottle.
  • Do you notice the five streams forming one wider stream? What forms when you run your fingers through the stream of water is called cohesion. The water molecules get stuck to each other and form one single stream while oozing out from the bottle.

DIY rock candy

How about spending the idle summer holidays doing something that you would not just like to see but eat too! Head out to make a rock candy because it may get messy indoors!

You will need:

  • Cane sugar
  • Drinking water
  • Mason jar
  • Pencil string

Directions

  • Fill the mason jar with water.
  • Add 3 cups of cane sugar to the water and stir well.
  • Place the sugar solution in the microwave and heat on high for two minutes.
  • Use oven gloves to remove the mason jar from the microwave and stir another time.
  • Place it back in the microwave and heat for another two minutes. Remove again and stir.
  • Tie a length of string to a chopstick and gently dip it into the mixture. Pull out the string gently again and allow it to dry.
  • Once dry, dip the string again into the mixture and then allow it a week’s time to dry.
  • Your rock candy will be ready in a week’s time!
  • You created a super saturated solution when you heated the water-sugar solution in the microwave. When you dipped a string into the solution, the sugar granules crystallized and formed a rock candy!

DIY vanilla ice cream

What’s summer without a scoop of our favorite vanilla ice cream? Make ice cream while you’re out running after the butterflies in your backyard and enjoying the summer!

You will need:

  • Two sandwich bags, one bigger than the other
  • A cup of full cream
  • Half a cup of milk
  • A teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • One fourth a cup of sugar
  • 3 cups full of ice cubes
  • 3 cups salt

Directions

  • Mix the cream, milk, vanilla essence, and sugar in the smaller sandwich bag. Seal it well.
  • Slip in the smaller bag into the larger and fill up the larger sandwich bag with the ice cubes and salt.
  • Seal the larger bag (with the smaller bag intact) and head out to enjoy the summers. Just make sure you keep shaking the bags for a good five minutes.
  • Come back in and carefully take out the small bag from the large one and pour its contents in a bowl.
  • Don’t you have a bowl gooey vanilla ice cream in front of you!

4 Ideas to Keep Kids Occupied at Family Gatherings

For most of us, family gatherings are once-in-a-blue-moon events that take a lot of planning and coordination, just so we can spend a few precious hours with loved ones. If you are a parent, you definitely want to make sure your toddler is reasonably well behaved and productively engaged at the party. Here are four useful ideas to keep the kids busy and happy next time you host a family get-together.

Crafts and kids’ activities

Depending on the available space, have a dedicated craft/activity room where the kiddos can happily work on crafts, puzzles, building blocks, coloring, toy-making and other activities that require little or no adult supervision. If possible, enlist an adult helper to keep an eye on the kids. Easy-to-make crafts such as paper airplanes, necklaces, scrapbooks and doorknob hangers can also serve as keepsakes or goodie bag items. Whatever activity you choose, make sure there are plenty of supplies at hand so there’s no squabbling or whining.

Fun kids’ games

There’s nothing like a game or two to keep the youngsters occupied while the adults are having fun. For an indoors party, try classic children’s games such as bowling, Hangman, Duck Duck Goose, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Simon Says, and so on. For outdoor games, let the kids run loose with relay races, balance games, poolside games, hide and seek, etc. Consider the amount of preparation required for each game and as far as possible, do all the prep work ahead of time. Keep the kids’ ages in mind while choosing the game – younger kids enjoy simpler games with few rules, while older ones appreciate a certain amount of complexity. After all, the idea is to keep them engaged!

Preschool worksheets

While I do not recommend indiscriminate use of worksheets for kids, there are times when these free printables come in handy, especially when it comes to keeping tiny preschoolers busy. Online preschool worksheets cover a variety of interesting topics – healthy eating and physical activity, coloring, dot-to-dot, reading, alphabet, critical thinking, etc. Since preschoolers have notoriously short attention spans, you’d be better off downloading simple one-page worksheets that can be completed in a few minutes. The kids can then move on to a different topic or subject without getting bored. Like games, preschool worksheets combine fun and learning in one innovative package.

Books and movies

Visit your local library to find children’s storybooks and picture books. Once the party begins, have an adult read to the kids and encourage them to invent and exchange stories. Lots of hot chocolate (or iced tea) and munchies can keep them going. Or you could play a selection of kids’ movies (The Wizard of Oz, Toy Story, How to Train your Dragon) with plenty of popcorn and cold drinks doing the rounds. Either way, your party is definitely going to be a tantrum-free success!

A combination of or more of the above ideas will make your family gathering a smooth and stress-free affair.

Understanding dry ice with science experiments

Many science experiments explain in detail how dry ice can be made but very few list its usage and application. Here is a detailed study of dry ice with possible science experiments, usages, and applications of dry ice in our daily lives.

What is dry ice?

The cold dense white mist produced by solid carbon dioxide in air is commonly known as dry ice. In chemical terms, dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide, a normal part of our earth’s atmosphere. Dry Ice is particularly useful for freezing, and keeping things frozen because of its very cold temperature: -109.3°F or -78.5°C. The coolest thing about dry ice is that it changes from a solid directly to gas without changing into liquid. Wearing insulated gloves is a must while handling dry ice.

Making dry ice –

Follow these easy steps to make dry ice easily.

Supplies

  1. CO2 fire extinguisher or carbon dioxide tank
  2. Cloth bag
  3. Insulated gloves

Directions

  1. Put on your insulated gloves first.
  2. Carefully insert the nozzle of the fire extinguisher into the cloth bag.
  3. Clamp your hand around the mouth of your bag and discharge the fire extinguisher.
  4. Turn off the extinguisher and seal the bag.
  5. You will soon see dry ice in the bag. Store it in the freezer for longevity. 

Science experiments with dry ice

Blowing up balloons –

Supplies:

  1. Balloons
  2. Empty plastic bottle with a narrow mouth
  3. Pellets of dry ice
  4. Insulated gloves

Directions:

  1. Blow up a balloon with your breath and keep it aside.
  2. Put a few pellets of dry ice in a bottle.
  3. Hold a balloon over its mouth and see it getting inflated with the carbon dioxide that releases when the dry ice sublimes.
  4. Once it inflates, tie it up with thread.
  5. Toss up both the balloons in the air and notice their flights.

Observations and questions – Which balloon comes down sooner? Can you explain why?

Explanation – Carbon dioxide is heavier than air which is why the balloon that contains dry ice falls down faster!

Hot pot –

Supplies:

  1. Dry ice
  2. A large pot
  3. Hot water

Directions:

  1. Place a few pellets of dry ice in the pot.
  2. Pour hot water in the pot and watch the cool cloud forming almost immediately.

Observations and questions – How soon does the cloud stop forming? Don’t add any more water till all the cloud is over. How does it happen?

Explanation – Over time, the dry ice will make the water cold and the “smoking” will slow down. Dry ice will blend only with hot water to produce carbon dioxide and smoke.

Aren’t the science experiments cool? They can be easily tried and tested at home with adult supervision and by wearing proper safety gear, especially insulated gloves. Dry ice will get you cold blisters if you don’t use gloves. Have fun with science!