Last summer we held our very own garden science camp. It was brilliant fun and we all learned a lot! It was a great way to spend time together away from screens and just generally work as a team to solve problems.
If your children love science, I’d definitely recommend trying a DIY science camp this summer, we’ll be doing it again, although maybe on a slightly smaller scale.
I’ve pulled together a list of 15 science experiments we really enjoyed, but if any don’t take your fancy have a look at our other science projects for more ideas.
Science Camp Week 1Day 1 – Giant Bubbles
This is a great activity for kids of all ages as older children can experiment to find the perfect bubble mix of water, dish soap ( washing up liquid ), glycerine and cornflour for making extra large bubbles.
Everyone loves a fizzy baking soda experiment. I just love playing with baking soda and vinegar as it’s such a visual experience for children and can be themed in lots of different ways. These witchy potions are great for Halloween, but perhaps for a summer camp fairy potions might work .better?
Day 5 – Giant Viscosity Race
This large scale viscosity race is great fun. Children test the viscosity of different liquids by racing them down a giant ramp. As an extension activity children can even make their own cardboard ramp, but remember it’ll need to be waterproof!
Science Camp Week 2Day 6 – Make your own slushy drinks
There are two ways to do this one, for younger children you can freeze fruit juice into ice cubes trays and let them leave the cubes in different places to see where they melt the fastest. Once the ice starts to melt children can then use a spoon to make it into a slushy drink.
Did you know you can make a pH indictor using red cabbage? Once kids have made the indicator they can test difference ( safe ) substances to see how they change colour. Baby wipes are a fun thing to test as well, try a water based and non water based wipe.
Homemade zip lines keep kids busy for hours. Children could make a zip line for a favourite teddy or theme it. We once made a zip line for Jack to escape the giant, but this would also work for helping Rapunzel escape from her tower.
Day 15 – Candy House
Create a candy house for Hansel and Gretal or a new house for the three little pigs. My children just loved this activity. We started the day shopping for sweets that we thought would be good for the task and searching for sticky substances to stick everything together.
Today we have lots of ideas for preschool science experiments. Science isn’t just complex experiments for older children. Science is all around us and can be explored by even very young children. Even just simply encouraging children to touch objects with different textures or observe the world around them is introducing simple scientific concepts that will hopefully inspire a love of science as they grow.
I’ve put together a collection of our favourite preschool science experiments including STEM and STEAM experiments. We guarantee if you give them a go, you’ll have the BEST time exploring with your child.
Let us know what you think or if you have any other fun preschool science ideas for us to try.
Easy Preschool Science ExperimentsFilter Paper Butterflies
My 6 year old has been learning about Traditional Tales recently, so I’ve put together a collection of fairy tale science experiments that would sit brilliantly alongside this topic.
Fairy Tale Science ExperimentsThree Billy Goats Gruff Activities
Make a raft for the Billy Goats Gruff so they don’t need to cross the bridge. We used lolly sticks to make a basic raft shape and added corks to the bottom of one, then tested to see if the rafts could support the weight of PlayMobil goats without sinking.
Can you build bridges using different materials and see which is the strongest too?
Jack and the Beanstalk Activities
Build a zip wire to help Jack down the beanstalk, what happens if you change the gradient?
After investigating how changing the gradient of the zip wire changes the speed Jack travels down it, experiment with different types of harness and different types of string for the zip wire.
A thicker, rougher string should mean Jack travels more slowly down the wire as there’s more friction than when using a smooth wire.
Can you grow a bean in a jar? How tall will it grow without needing some kind of support?
Have you ever had a static shock from a shopping trolley or an escalator? The shock is because of static electricity which can cause materials to attract or repel each other.
How does static electricity work?
Static electricity is what makes your hair stand on end when you rub a balloon on it. Static electricity occurs when an atom gains or loses an electron.
What is an atom?
All materials are made of atoms.
Atoms contain tiny particles called protons, neutrons and electrons (subatomic particles ). Protons and neutrons are found in the nucleus of an atom. Electrons orbit the nucleus, but occasionally break away.
Balloons and some other objects like a fluffy jumper can steal electrons from other surfaces. The extra electrons give the balloon a negative charge, which attracts other objects, like the tissue paper we use in this activity.
A fun way to demonstrate static electricity is by making jumping frogs.
Here at Science Sparks HQ we love a bit of magic, whether it be a memory trick, slight of hand or even science magic. These 10 easy science tricks for kids are great fun and mostly super simple. The density one is a little tricky and possibly messy, but well worth the effort for the incredible end result.
Magic Science TricksSkewer through a balloon
First up is the skewer through a balloon trick. Take care with this one, the skewer will be sharp and it might be worth having a few spare balloons around until you get the hang of it.
Leakproof Bag Experiment
Impress your friends with an easy leakproof bag. All you need for this one is a sealable sandwich bag and some super sharp pencils.
Bored of plain white petals? Place them in water and food colouring to change the colour!
Coin Pop Experiment
How about making a coin pop from a bottle, remember to stand back as these pop with a bang!
Water that won’t mix
Do you know why the coloured water isn’t mixing with the non coloured water? It’s a little density trick. Add lots of salt to the lower layer ( making it more dense ) so the less dense water on top doesn’t mix with the denser coloured lower layer.
If you read Science Sparks frequently you’ll know how much we love LEGO. The play, learning and creative opportunities are endless, so today we’re sharing 40 of our favourite ideas for learning with LEGO from some wonderful bloggers. Look out for the brilliant LEGO Challenges too!
Ideas for Learning with LEGO
Model the seasons with these easy LEGO trees. We’ve got icicles for winter, red and yellow leaves for autumn and spring flowers and hedgehogs for spring.
These super simple investigations are great for demonstrating the surface tension of water.
What is surface tension?
Surface tension is a force which causes a layer of liquid to behave like an elastic sheet or skin.
It is the high surface tension of water which allows insects to walk over it. These pond skaters have long hairy legs which allow them to spread their weight over a wide area. They press very gently on the surface of the water so as not to break through it.
In a container of water, molecules below the surface are pulled together ( or attracted to each other ) equally in all directions, but those on top are pulled together more tightly, as they don’t have water molecules above them, this draws them together to form a ‘skin’. It is this skin ( surface tension ) that stops items on the surface sinking.
Surface Tension Holes ExperimentYou’ll need
A big bowl of water
Some ground pepper (black so you can see it) or any other ground product with colour
Washing up liquid ( dish soap )
Once the water settles, sprinkle the ground pepper over the top.
Surface Tension Experiment - YouTube
In the middle of the bowl drip some washing up liquid and watch what happens.
You should see a hole appear in the centre as the pepper moves outwards. This is your surface tension hole!
Why does this happen?
The surface tension hole is caused by the washing up liquid reducing the surface tension of the water. This allows the particles of water at the surface to spread out, starting from where the washing up liquid was added.
You can use washing up liquid’s power of disrupting the surface tension of water to race lolly sticks.
In a magic milk experiment the washing up liquid disrupts the surface tension of the milk which makes food colouring spread out just like the pepper and water.
Another surface tension experiment is where you make a shape on the surface of water with cocktail sticks and drop some washing up liquid in the centre to force the sticks apart.
Try filling a bowl half full with water and carefully place a paperclip on the top so it floats. Mix a little washing up liquid in a cup with water and gently pour into the bowl, the paperclip will sink as the water can no longer support the weight of the paper clip after the washing up liquid disrupts the surface tension of the water.
Charles Darwin is known as the father of evolution. He sailed around South America for more than 3 years, before heading to the Galapagos Islands, where the data collected in just five weeks formed a fundamental part of Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection.
If you’re looking for a great book to use when teaching children about Charles Darwin or for a curious child, What Mr Darwin Saw is fantastic!
Charles Darwin Facts
Name: Charles Darwin
Early Life of Charles Darwin
As a boy Charles Darwin love to collect things and spent a lot of time hunting rats. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin was a doctor, naturalist and poet who was already writing about evolution in the 1790s!!!
Charles went to Edinburgh University to train in medicine, but he didn’t enjoy it, so his father suggested he study to become a clergyman. When studying at Cambridge he met a naturalist called Professor Henslow who encouraged his love of science.
It was through Professor Henslow that Charles Darwin found himself on the HMS Beagle as a gentleman companion.C
What is Charles Darwin famous for?
His 5 year around the world trip on HMS Beagle where he visited the Galapagos Islands and used the data and information he collected to develop his theory of evolution by natural selection.
Name of ship he travelled on: The HMS Beagle
Books published: The Origin of Species in 1859
The Origin of Species
The Origin of Species is Charles Darwin’s classic book which is one of the most important texts in history. The Origin of Species revolutionised the course of science and caused a huge amount of controversy when first published.
The theory behind Natural Selection is that characteristics more suited to an environment are more like to survive and pass those characteristics onto the next generation.
So if you compare yourself to someone else in the room you will notice that you may be taller or shorter than them.
If you became in competition for something…lets say food and it happens to be up on a tall shelf, the tallest person is more likely to get it. Now, we are quite a kind natured species and would often share but in nature it is every living thing for himself. The living creature that was smaller and could not reach the food is more likely to starve and not breed, leaving the very full taller creature to survive and pass on his or her tall genes!
Darwin found evidence of this on the Galapagos Islands.
Darwin found that finches (which are a species of bird) varied in different ways depending on which island they lived on. One of those differences was beak size.
It’s now thought that these birds were not actually finches but perhaps a blackbird of mockingbird.
Some finches had fat short beaks and some thinner sized beaks.
Charles Darwin found that the seeds available on the islands where the finches lived differed in size and that finch beaks had adapted to the size of seed available. He concluded that the finches beaks had evolved over time as favourable characteristics were passed down through generations of birds.
Finches with the fat shaped beaks would have struggled to survive on an island where the main food was small seeds but the thin beaked finches would have survived well and lived to pass on their genes.
On an island where mostly only larger seeds were available the opposite would have happened as a larger beak would have been a huge advantage.
Natural Selection Activity
You can find out for yourself why the size and shape of bird beaks is so important.
You will need
Three different sized seeds/beans or pasta – pumpkins seeds, sunflower seeds and flax seed are good choices. Small toy insects are also fun to try.
Easter is just around the corner, so I’ve put together a collection of egg experiments perfect for this time of year. Eggs are great for experiments as they are inexpensive, easily available and very versatile. We try not to waste food at Science Sparks, but for most of these ideas you can still eat the actual egg. Do be careful if you have a child with allergies though.
How about a Humpty Dumpty themed egg drop experiment? We used ziploc bags filled with different materials, but another way to do this one is to make parachute or create a container for the egg.
Find out how to make an unbreakable egg, This is super simple and all you need is an egg and some cling film. We’re sure you’ll be surprised at how strong an egg actually is!