Science education activities: Summer time

When youth are on summer break, there are many opportunities to learn about science with quick learning activities that are fun and educational.

When youth are on summer break, there are many science learning opportunities that are quick and educational.  For over 100 years, 4-H has fostered a pioneering “learn by doing” or “hands on” approach with proven results.  With this in mind, what better way to spark a child’s interest in science than by experiencing an enjoyable outdoor summer activity?

A simple game of “hide-n-seek” can be enhanced by adding a simple plant or animal science challenge.  Youth can seek their friends and identify plants or animals they find as well.   More could be added to the challenge by blindfolding individuals and having them try to find or identify specific trees by using their senses of touch and smell.   How about a game of “I Spy” with the rule of spying only certain plants or animals?

What about a trip to the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden?  By taking a tour of the garden and admiring its beauty, youth can expand their knowledge about plants, insects and more.  They can check out the Butterflies in the Garden or take the Butterfly field trip.  Keep in contact with Michigan State University for other science related Spartan Youth Programs .  4-H Butterfly WINGS curriculum is another great resource to have on hand as youth explore the outdoors.  Explore other outdoor activities in your area that can be fun and educational.

What other outdoor fun activities can you do in science that your family may find interesting?  Keep summer celebrations in mind with activities that may spark creativity with science.  For example, during the Fourth of July festivities youth can have a chemistry science lesson in making safe water fireworks.   All you will need is water, oil, food coloring, a tall clear glass, another cup or glass and a fork.   Youth will fill the tall glass almost to the top with water. They will then pour a little oil into the other glass. Then the creativity starts as they will add a couple of drops of food coloring. If you’re doing this during the Fourth of July celebration, Michigan State University Extension recommends adding one drop of blue and one drop of red.  Briefly stir the oil and food coloring mixture, not thoroughly mixing, with a fork to break up the food coloring drops into smaller drops. Pour the oil and coloring mixture into the tall glass and then the fun really begins as youth watch the food coloring slowly sink in the glass, with each droplet intensifying as it falls, resembling fireworks falling into water.  As everyone enjoys the water firework creations; for more educational value, take the opportunity to ask some inquiry questions.  For example, “What do you think is happening within the glass to create these fireworks?” or “What do you observe the oil and water doing?”  This activity is very similar in making lava lamps as described in “Explore science principles with a homemade lava lamp.”

Take advantage of the science that is everywhere outside this summer and get your hands into science with fun, educational outdoor activities.

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