It's been a mild winter for much of the country, but I think we can all agree that we're ready for spring and the warmer weather that it will bring. Spring break is almost here, so take advantage of the lazy days away from school and take your kids outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. Need something to do while you're out there? Try these outdoor science experiments that will both entertain and educate!
Conduct a "Sun-Baked" Experiment
Help your kids learn about the effects of the sun's rays with this easy "Sun-Baked" experiment from The Learning Channel. You'll need strips of soft leather, and will coat each with a different substance — one with sunscreen, one with baby oil, one with water, and one with nothing. After leaving the strips outside in the hot sun for several days (or even weeks), kids see the effects the sun can have on their own skin, and understand why sunscreen is so important.
Bubbles are an outdoor favorite for kids, so why not let them learn while they're having fun? The Bubble Mania experiments from Family Fun use common household items to teach children why some bubbles pop so easily, and why others are nearly impossible to break.
Study the Birds
Gather some supplies and let your kids make their own birdfeeders. To turn this into an experiment, make several different shapes and types of birdfeeders, put different types of food inside, and hang them in different locations around your yard. Have your children write down their predictions about what types of birds will visit, and which birdfeeders and types of food the birds will like best. If you have older kids, this would be a great time to insert a little lesson about the meaning of the word hypothesis.
Once you've hung your birdfeeders, observe them on a daily basis, and write down what you see. On the last day of spring break, compile all your data to see whose predictions came true.
Make a Backyard Volcano
There are lots of opportunities to study science in your own backyard, but what's better than making your own volcano? Using moist soil from your yard and a few basic supplies — a soda bottle, baking soda, vinegar, and some red food coloring — you can create a volcano that "erupts" red foam lava, and then talk about what makes the eruption happen.
Cook with a Solar Oven
Try cooking up this tasty outdoor science experiment on a warm, sunny day. You'll make a solar oven out of a used pizza box, a small container, and some aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and then attempt to "bake" your very own s'mores in it. Kids will love the delicious result, and learn a little something about the science of the sun in the process.
Does your family have a favorite outdoor science experiment?