Spring represents many things, such as changing weather and budding flowers. Spring is also a great time of year to spark curiosity in STEM subjects, especially biology and chemistry. You can conduct a few simple experiments with your kids to keep them excited about STEM through the spring and into the summer.
1. Build a Leprechaun Trap for St. Patrick’s Day
Saint Patrick’s Day is just 3 days away, but there’s still time to introduce a fun way to learn about physics. Challenge your kids to build a safe leprechaun trap for St. Patrick’s Day with cardboard boxes, rope, glue, and any other supplies you can find around the house. Although we don’t expect you to catch any leprechauns, we recommend rewarding your kids for their work by placing some strategic gold glitter and maybe a few coins at the base of their traps. This game encourages kids to think of movement and mechanics and to build a machine that harnesses what they’ve learned and uses physics to accomplish a goal.
2. Discuss Weather Science with a Tornado in a Jar
With the changing of the seasons, spring marks the start to tornado season in the US. Many kids have questions about these weather events. A fun and illustrative way to discuss tornadoes is by creating a “tornado in a jar.” According to Science Kids, you can create an easy tornado in a bottle by following the instructions below:
- Fill a clear bottle with water until the water level is about three quarters from the top of the bottle.
- Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid.
- Sprinkle in a few pinches of glitter to help you see the tornado forming.
- Cap the bottle.
- Turn the bottle over and hold it by the neck. Quickly spin the bottle until you see a tornado forming.
This experiment you can help illustrate what is happening in a tornado due to different atmospheric pressures. You may have a future meteorologist in your family!
3. Experiment with Color Science and Chemistry to Dye Eggs
Egg dyeing has been a tradition for many years and has its basis in many ancient traditions. This fun spring tradition can also be used to educate on a number of scientific topics, including color science and chemistry. One way to learn about chemistry while egg dyeing is to try applying vinegar to eggs in this experiment outlined by education.com. Because vinegar is acidic, it helps the dyeing process, turning what is typically an art project into a chemistry teaching opportunity as well. For younger kids, teach about colorology by having them experiment with different color dyes. Observing the point where the colors overlap can help kids understand how colors can mix and modify each other.
4. Exhibit Plant Development by Growing a Seed in a Clear Jar
Spring is the time for new growth and budding seeds. There is no better time, therefore, to observe how seeds grow into plants. One exciting way to do this is to try a simple jar experiment. Take a jar and swirl a very small amount of water around the edge of it. Place a slightly damp paper towel in the jar and set a broad bean seed (or several different seed types) on the paper towel in view. Every few days, spray the bean lightly with water. The bean should start to grow after a few days. You can also complete experiments such as keeping one jar in the dark and one in the light and seeing the difference in the growing patterns.
These activities can help grow an interest in STEM that didn’t exist before in your kids or help foster a love that was already there. Either way you can check out our list of STEM camp programs in every state for ways to get your kids involved in the summer. We have lists by region for the Midwest, the South (find part 1, and part 2 here), the West, and the Northeast so that you can keep your kids invested in STEM learning all summer long.