written by: Keren Perles
• edited by: Wendy Finn
• updated: 7/21/2015
Summer is full of science - from the warm sun to the growing flowers. Take advantage of these science opportunities by trying out these three warm-weather projects.
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Gardening Science Projects
Summertime tends to bring people out to the garden, and that's the perfect place for you to do some fun summer science projects. Help kids think about different aspects of planting that affect the way things grow. For example, you might list the following:
Type of soil
Amount of water
Size of seed
Proximity of plants to each other
Brand of seeds
Then let kids choose one of the items on the list and test it out through a science experiment. For example, they might design an experiment to test the brand of seeds by planting three different brands of the same type of seed (ten seeds of each brand) in a large planter and labeling them clearly. They could then see which brand of seed grows the best under the same conditions.
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Water Science Projects
Water science projects are fun to do in the hot summer. Many water science projects require the use of a water quality testing kit, which includes paper or sticks that turn different colors depending on certain aspects of the water. These kits might test pH level, conductivity, or other water characteristics. Kids should research each of these characteristics and then hypothesize about which of several different water sources will have higher or lower levels of each. For example, they might test the pH levels of water from a nearby river, sewer water (using gloves), and tap water after guessing which of them would have the highest pH levels. They can also test whether adding certain substances to water, such as sugar, salt, or vinegar, will change any of these characteristics. The paper strips are inexpensive and easily found in the pool supplies aisle of your local store.
Alternatively, they could examine whether plastic water bottles are safe to be reused over and over again, as kids commonly do in the summertime. To do this, they would use petri dishes to test the levels of bacteria in the water before use as well as after several uses. This would show whether bacteria can build up in these types of water bottles.
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Sun Science Projects
Of course, the most obvious summer science projects will help kids learn about the sun. Encourage kids to build their own solar ovens and use them to make pizza bagels, 'smores, or fried eggs. This will help them understand how solar energy works. (See this article on renewable energy source activities for additional details.)
You could also do experiments on evaporation. Younger kids will be interested in how water evaporates and leaves impurities (such as salt or sugar) behind, and older kids can build desalination devices or examine what would make water evaporate more quickly or more slowly.
Kids may also enjoy doing an experiment to compare how well different types of suntan lotion work. When they apply suntan lotion, they can use different brands or different SPF levels in stripes on their skin, and they can label each stripe with washable marker. After they spend some time in the sun, they may be able to see which types of suntan lotion protected their skin the most.
These science projects aren't the only way you can make the summer educational. Try some of these summer math activities for more ideas.