Get your child interested in science by trying fun projects at home. The more familiar she gets with experimenting and asking questions, the more she'll be thinking about the next science fair. Here are a couple weather-based experiments to whet your child's appetite for scientific exploration.

Tornado in a Bottle

With two 2-liter soda bottles you can show your child a tornado in a bottle. It's a simple experiment that your younger children will enjoy as well.

Items needed:

Wash and peel the labels off the bottles. Add water to one bottle, about ⅔ full. Drop in a couple drops of food dye, if desired. Attach the connector to the top. Then add the empty bottle to the other side. Turn the bottle upside down, so the water is on top of the empty bottle and swirl it around a bit to get the tornado going. (If you don't want to use the bottle connector, you can use duct tape and separate the bottles with a washer. Just make sure the tape is secure.)

Cloud in a Bottle

Teach your child about what makes up a cloud with this simple experiment.

Items needed:

  • a 2-liter soda bottle
  • warm water
  • a match

Fill the bottle ⅓ of the way with warm water and put the lid on top. Explain how condensation forms on the side, which is part of the water vapor. But a cloud needs a third ingredient, dust or air particles. Take off the lid and light a match near the top. Then drop the match inside the bottle and quickly screw the lid on. Notice how the cloud forms. Have your child squeeze the bottle to watch the cloud disappear. There's an excellent explanation of this science experiment, so you can easily tell your child all about clouds.

Science Experiment Tips

Question

Always start with a question. Why does this react that way? How does a tornado work? Get your child curious about the world around her.

Research

Take your time to explore resources with your child. This is an invaluable time, where your child will learn how to find out what she needs to know. Use the library and show her how books are categorized. The Dewey Decimal System may sound archaic to this Wikipedia generation, but it's worthwhile to know how to use it. Speaking of Wikipedia, try to avoid using it as a resource tool. There are a number of science sites you can try:

Hypothesis

Encourage your child to come up with her own answer to the question. Make sure she knows this doesn't have to be correct. It's simply a place to start. The research should help with this.

Experiment

This is the best part. You get to spend hands-on time, watching your child learn and play.

Remember to have fun and your child will naturally gravitate to wards exploring the "why's" and "how's" behind the world around her.

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