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Our Summer holidays are about to start so I thought it would be a good time to spruce up this post full of STEM challenges. They are all very simple and use mostly things you probably already have around the house.

The lovely Mrs Mactivity has also created us some fun printable science challenges that you can cut out and use as prompts. Scroll to the bottom of the post to download.

If you haven’t heard of Mrs Mactivity, do go and take a look at her website, she has some wonderful primary resources available.

If you’d like to join us, I’d love you to share anything you try on social media using #SummerScienceChallenges

Science Challenges for Summer

Build a tower with Sugar Cubes

  • How tall can you build a tower before it falls down?
  • What happens if you spray the cubes with water?
  • Can you add anything to waterproof them?

Make your own lava lamp

All you need to make a lava lamp is oil, water and an alka seltzer or effervescent vitamin tablet.

Make a treasure map

Use coffee or tea to colour your paper and draw a treasure map, can your friends follow the trail?

Invisible ink

Just mix a little lemon or lime juice with a some of water and draw your message on some paper.

Ask an adult to put in the oven and your message will appear.

What can you build with a cardboard box?

Can you build something functional with a cardboard box?

We added a kitchen roll holder and space for a sink to our cardboard kitchen.

Make a solar oven

Can you make S’mores in a solar oven?

Video instructions here 

Full blog post instructions

Simple sinking and floating

Can you design a sinking and floating experiment? Make predictions first, then investigate to see if you’re correct. Do any of your items surprise you?

Spinning felt tip pens

Use cardboard discs to make spinning pens. You could try with paper and thinner/thicker card to see which work the best.

Coke and mento reaction

Drop a mento into a bottle of fizzy drink and watch what happens, remember to stand back and drop the mento in as fast as you can!

Do low sugar drinks work better than full sugar varieties?

Go on a bug hunt

What bugs can you find around your garden?

Investigate which substances react with baking soda

Can you predict which substances will react with baking soda? Were your predictions correct?

Set up an easy egg drop experiment

Something like our Humpty Dumpty egg drop experiment always works well

Which material protects the egg the best?

Blow up a balloon with alka seltzer

Can you blow up a balloon with alka seltzer? What else do you think might work?

You could also try an effervescent vitamin tablet or even popping candy. Which works the best?

Build a structure with marshmallows and straws

Warning – this can be a bit sticky!!

Make a marble maze

You could make a LEGO marble maze? Or use marbles inside a cardboard box.

Make a Volcano

The one below is made using papier mache, but you could also use sand or even snow!

Check out our volcano ideas for inspiration.

Baking Soda Reactions

Set up some simple baking soda reactions, these could be fairy themed, witchy potions or just for some fun messy play.

Make Music

Can you play a tune using water and  glass bottles?

Square Bubbles

Can you make a square bubble?

Candy House

Can you make a house from sweets? You could use different types of “glue” and see which works the best. How would you test your house?

Ice Painting

Try some ice painting, simply freeze a sheet or ice shape and paint over the top. Once finished you can wipe away your creation and start over.

Find the colours of the rainbow

Can you find the colours of the rainbow in a bubble?

Split light with a prism

Can you split light into a rainbow using a prism?

Make ice cream with ice and salt

Can you make ice cream with ice and salt?

Dissect a flower

Can you dissect a flower and separate the parts? Do you know the function of each?

Fairy Potions

Make a fairy potion, collect flowers and herbs to make a lovely smelling potion. Does the water change colour? Which smells are the strongest?

Jumping Frogs

Can you make some jumping frogs and learn about static electricity?

Sand Volcano

Make a volcano with sand. We covered this one with cling film to keep the sand clean.

Baking Soda Explosion

Can you make a fizzy baking soda explosion?

Build a raft

Can you build a raft with sticks?

Cork boats

Can you make a cork boat and test to see if it floats?

Rainbow in water

Can you spot a rainbow in a spray of water?

Spin art pictures

Use a salad spinner to make a spin art picture.

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Just a quick post today for a bit of fun! What do you think of my Periodic Table of Experiments??

I’m hoping to make each activity clickable, but that might take me another week or so.

Anyone fancy trying to do all of these over the summer holidays?

Click on the image to see a bigger version.

The post Periodic Table of Experiments appeared first on Science Sparks.

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Bubble snakes are super easy to make and great fun for kids of all ages. Younger children will enjoy blowing lots of bubbles easily, while older children can design their own bubbles snakes and even create an investigation using them.

What you need:

Small tube or plastic bottle

Elastic band

Bubble mix – shop bought or make your own

Old cloth for the end

Sharp scissors or pen knife

Instructions

First you need to cut the bottom off your water bottle – ask an adult to help and be careful as the end might be sharp.

Cover the end of the bottle with a piece of cloth and secure tightly with an elastic band.

Blow carefully down the other end of the bottle and watch as a bubble snake appears!

Remember to blow down the bottle NOT suck!!

Extension Tasks

Can you spot a rainbow in the bubbles?

Try adding food colouring to your bubble mix to make a coloured bubble snake!

Why does this work?

When you blow air through your Bubble Snake, hundreds on tiny bubbles are created. The bubbles stick to each other which gives you a big long snake!

So why are bubbles round?

Bubbles consist of a thin film of soapy water filled with air. When you blow a bubble, the film expands outward. The forces acting between the molecules of the bubble cause it to form the shape that encloses the most volume with the least surface area — a sphere.

Why can you see colours in bubbles?

Colours are seen because of the light diffraction through the soap film.

How can you make this a science fair project or investigation?

Try using different materials on the end of your bubble snake, can you predict which will make the best bubbles?

Can you find a material that will give you bigger bubbles?

What happens if you blow more slowly?

Can you find a recipe for the BEST bubble mix?

Make a double ended bubble snake

What do you think of this?

The post How to make a bubble snake appeared first on Science Sparks.

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Summer is a great time to learn about shadows and as my children are a little obsessed with contact paper at the moment we thought a shadow frame might be a fun idea.

What you’ll need

Cardboard

Contact paper

Decorative paper

A sunny day

Instructions

Cut the cardboard into a frame shape and stick contact paper on to one side.

Use your decorations to create a shape in the middle.

Take your frame outside and work out how to made a shadow.

Did you know a shadow is formed when an object blocks light. To block light an object must be opaque or translucent.

A transparent object will not make a shadow, as light passes straight through it.

Transparent materials let light pass through them in straight lines, so that you can see clearly through them.

Translucent materials let some light through, but scatter the light in different directions. We can not see clearly through translucent materials.

Opaque materials do not let any light pass through them.

Shadow Facts?

The Sun makes the longest shadows at the beginning and end of the day, when it is is lowest in the sky.

The Sun makes the shortest shadows at midday, when it is highest in the sky.

Extension Tasks

Can you write down 3 examples of transparent objects, opaque objects and translucent objects?

Can you investigate how to make the shadow bigger and smaller?

Can you make a nature version using leaves and sticks or a weather picture?

Suitable for Early Learning Goal 14 and 16

The world

Exploring and using media and materials

Use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.

Key Stage 2 – Light

The post Easy Shadow Frame appeared first on Science Sparks.

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These red cabbage indicator colour changing potions are fantastic fun for kids of all ages and very easy to create. We used red cabbage indicator and added different amounts of baking soda ( an alkali ) and vinegar ( an acid ) to make the different colours.

What is a pH Indicator?

pH indicator is a substance which has one colour when added to an acidic solution and a different colour when added to an alkaline solution.

Acids have a low pH and bases a high pH.

Why does red cabbage make a good indicator?

Red cabbage contains a chemical called anthocyanin. This changes colour depending on the acidity of its environment. It turns a pink/red colour in the presence of an acid, is purple when neutral and when added to an alkaline substance turns blue or green.

What you’ll need

Red Cabbage ( chopped )

A pan

Water

A stove

Strainer

Selection of jugs, jars and beakers

Vinegar

Dish soap ( washing up liquid )


Instructions

Place your chopped red cabbage into a pan, cover with water and heat until the water turns purple ( ask an adult to help )

Carefully pour the mixture through a strainer to remove the red cabbage and collect the solution in a container.

Pour the indicator into smaller beakers, it doesn’t really matter how much you use, but we made ours about half full.

Add different amounts of baking soda or vinegar to each one.

How many different colours can you make?

Make it Fizz!

For a little extra fun, you can add vineger to a beaker containing baking soda and vice versa to see a fizzy colour changing reaction.

Safety note

Wear safety goggles if using strong acids/bases.

An adult should help with the chopping and heating of the cabbage.

More Red Cabbage Indicator Ideas

We love how The Science Kiddo froze some red cabbage indicator to test different substances

Make your own pH indicator test strips

The post Red Cabbage Indicator Colour Changing Potions appeared first on Science Sparks.

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Many years ago we went through a stage of painting on sheets of ice and then pressing paper on the top. Once the paper dried we then used the paint as a fun background to draw on.

This activity is a little different as we’re painting on ice shapes rather than a flat sheet. Ice is actually a very nice medium to paint on as it gets slippy meaning your paintbrush glides across the surface.

First we tried ice letters, I first came across these on The Imagination Tree and have used the letter shaped moulds 100s of times over the years.

The small ice cube towers you can see are a small set of 3 that I froze as normal ice cubes, let melt a little bit, stacked up and put back in the freezer so they stuck together. I think we’ll try this again and see how tall a tower we can build.

The next day we painted mini ice castles and stars.

Then we went large, and painted on a giant LEGO brick. I used the lid from a lego storage block for this.

Questions to ask

How does the ice feel? Is it slippy, sticky, slimy?

Does it get harder or easier to paint as the ice starts to melt? Why do you think this is?

Do you know why salt makes ice melt faster?

What happens to the paint as it mixes with the water?

Why does ice feel sticky when you first remove it from the container?

Ice feels sticky, because when you touch it, the ice immediately freezes the moisture in your skin, which makes the cube feel sticky. Always let ice melt a little before allowing children to play.

The post Painting on ice appeared first on Science Sparks.

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Did you know I released a new book a couple of months ago?

This Is Rocket Science includes 70 fun experiments for kids (and adults ) showing  you how to use everyday items like bottles, cardboard, glue and tape to build awesome rocket ships, paper spinners and mobile rocket launch pads, all while learning about the scientific concepts behind space travel!!

We had huge amounts of fun creating the book so I hope you love it as much as we do!

Win a copy of This Is Rocket Science

To be in with a chance of winning your very own copy of This Is Rocket Science complete the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

Closes Midnight 30th June 2018

Winner will be selected by Rafflecopter and noticed via e-mail on the 1st July 2018.

The prize is non-refundable and no cash alternative will be offered.
The prize is non transferable.

Entrants must be 18 years or over.If the winner does not respond to the winning e-mail within 48 hours a new winner will be drawn.

Worldwide entry

Buy the book

UK: http://amzn.to/2tVkrX1
US: http://amzn.to/2GQ7D7i
Affiliate links

The post Win This Is Rocket Science appeared first on Science Sparks.

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This lovely, colourful jar experiment is super easy to set up and carry out but looks amazing!

What you’ll need:

A jar or glass

Warm water

Oil

Food Colouring

Pipette

Instructions

Fill the glass or jar about 3/4 full of warm water

Carefully pour a small layer of oil onto the surface of the water and leave to settle. Note that oil and water don’t mix!

Use a pipette to carefully drop small amounts of food colouring into the jar. You should see the food colouring drop through the oil into the water leaving colourful trails behind.

The Science Bit Why do oil and water not mix?

Water is a polar molecule – it’s structure means that is has a positive charge one end and a negative charge the other. Water molecules stick together because the positive end of one water molecule is attracted to the negative end of another. The structure of an oil molecule structure is different – it is non polar, which means its charge is more evenly spread out . In fact oil is hydrophobic (water fearing) so it tries to get as far away from water as possible.

Why does oil sit on top of water?

The reason that oil rests on top of the water rather than underneath is because oil is less dense than water.

Why does food colouring not mix with oil?

The food colouring we used was water based and therefore does not mix with the oil, but sinks through the oil into the water below.

Why does the food colouring leave trails?

Since the addition of the colouring makes the food colouring heavier than the water it sinks to the bottom leaving trails (resembling fireworks) as some of the colour diffuses into the water.

The post Colourful Jar Experiment appeared first on Science Sparks.

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What do you think will happen if you put a raisin in a glass of water?

It will sink!

Do you think it’s possible to make raisins rise to the top and jump around?

Find out in this simple baking soda investigation.

What you need:

A pint glass

Warm water

Raisins or anything else you would like to test.

Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)

White Vinegar

Instructions

Fill the glass half full with warm water.

Add two heaped teaspoons of baking soda.

Add a few raisins

Put the glass in a tray – it might overflow

Top of with white vinegar

You should see the raisins begin to rise and fall

Why do the raisins dance?

The vinegar and bicarbonate of soda react forming carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide bubbles collect over the surface of the raisins. As carbon dioxide is lighter than water it rises to the top and takes the raisins with it. As the bubbles pop at the surface the raisins drop again, only to be covered in bubbles again at the bottom until the reaction finishes.

More Investigation Ideas

Can you find the smallest amount of baking soda and vinegar that allows the raisins to dance? Try with just one raisin and then investigate to discover if you need more to make 2 raisins dance.

Can you think of anything else this would work with? You could investigate using other dried fruits and record how well each dances.

We tried with small LEGO pieces and found that they sank when they filled with water and once the reaction started they jumped to the top, but didn’t dance around.

We then tried with small coins, but these didn’t move at all, you can see how all the bubbles of carbon dioxide have gathered on the surface though.

Another idea is to attach something to the raisins and see if they still dance.

Why do baking soda and vinegar react?

If you combine an acid ( vinegar ) and an alkali ( baking soda ) they react together to neutralise each other. 

The reaction releases carbon dioxide gas, which is the bubbles you see.

More baking soda investigations

More Baking Soda Experiments

Monster Tea Party

Baking Soda Powered Boat

Baking Soda Volcano

Baking Soda Popper

Fizzing rocks with baking soda

The post Raising Raisins – baking soda investigation appeared first on Science Sparks.

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Rockford’s Rock Opera is an enchanting ecological musical story of a boy from Battersea named Moog and his dog Rockford. The app combines pictures, animations, songs, sound effects and dialogue in a fun ( at times sad ) and thought provoking way. My 9 and 7 year old have been spellbound throughout and have big plans to watch it a second time on the plane when we go on holiday soon. The story is aimed at 6-12 year olds, but I know my children would’ve enjoyed it even younger than that.

The story is split into 4 parts. Part 1 is free via the app and 52 minutes long. I liked that each section is also split into chapters meaning there are natural break points if you only have a short amount of time, it’d also be great for listening to in the car or just before bedtime.

What’s the story about?

The story starts with Moog and Rockford playing in the park when Rockford accidentally ends up in a boat on the way to the island of Infinity, where the last member of every species to ever exist lives. As Moog searches for Rockford he also ends up on a boat heading to Infinity.   When he arrives the animals are very distrusting as their extinction was mostly caused by humans.

I won’t spoil the story too much, but Moog and Rockford face the tough challenge of saving both dogs and humans from extinction. I had only briefly touched on the topic of extinction with my own children, so listening and watching this story has led to lots of questions and definitely made them think more about how and why we should look after our planet and the devastating and permanent damage we are doing.

We love the catchy songs, fun characters and lovely story. I’d definitely recommend downloading part one and taking your children on this wonderful adventure with Moog and Rockford.

Activities to sit alongside Rockford’s Rock Opera

Learn about Charles Darwin and Natural Selection while making fossils.

Find out how big dinosaurs were with Frugal fun for Boys.

This sensory jar is a fun way to help younger children visualise pollution.

Can you find a way to clean dirty water?

STEM Activities for kids has a fun investigation to encourage children to think about the effect of oil spills.

More about Rockford’s Rock Opera

Rockford’s Rock Opera wss created by award winning alternative entrepreneurs, ‘Sweetapple’, (www.sweetapple.co.uk). The project is entirely self-produced and financed and has now been downloaded or streamed on the web by over 2,000,000 people!!

Now, with top selling Apps in the Apple App Store, iPad app incoming, a stage show, video game and a film planned, the creators of Rockford’s Rock Opera are looking forward to the next chapter for this wonderful heart warming story!

Where can I find Rockford’s Rock Opera

ON THE WEB. The first hour of the story is available free as a stream or downloads, you can then buy the whole story on CD, as downloads or streamed as an animated picture book and read-along:http://www.rockfordsrockopera.com/home

ON iPHONE/iPOD TOUCH and iPAD. Visit the Apple App Store where Part One of the story is available as a free App (Parts 2, 3 and 4 are available as paid for Apps): http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/id345554761?mt=8

This is a collaborative post

The post Rockford’s Rock Opera – the ecological musical appeared first on Science Sparks.

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