Rainy Day Physical Science Projects

Science Projects That Can Entertain and Teach Children on a Snow Day

Most children love to explore the outdoors. Kids love snow days, but need something to do when they become too cold and have to come inside. Use their natural love of science to help them find ways to explore the world in which they live even when they have to be indoors.

In fact, a snow day allows children to explore the natural world without the pressures of scheduled extracurricular activities to stifle their creativity. Encourage your children to find ways to explore the world of science with materials they can find right at home.

If your children attend a school with a great science program, they will have taken part in experiments and exploration that include adventures in robotics, engineering, art, life sciences, and the physical sciences. Add to their learning experience by providing them some science projects that they can easily complete at home-even on a snow day. Here are two such projects that are perfect for snow day learning fun:

Try to contain an oil spill – Your children have probably learned about some of the recent oil spills that have caused huge problems for the Earth’s oceans and its residents. This project will help your child consider the implications-and the difficulty cleaning up after-an oil spill.

Have your children get out a large mixing bowl, a teaspoon, and a bottle of cooking oil. Next, they need to add water until the bowl is about half full. Have them put a few teaspoons of oil into the bowl of water. Point out to your children that the oil is floating on the water. Next, ask them to figure out various ways to get rid of the oil in the water. If they can’t think of any, suggest materials such as paper towels, lint from your dryer, a clean wash cloth, or spoons made of various materials. Allow the children to figure out which method best removes the oil from the water. If none of the methods completely removes the oil, point that out as well.

Water surface tension or gravity – which is stronger? Liquids have surface tension. Surface tension is that force that allows a drop of water spilled onto a surface to keep its droplet formation, as opposed to spreading evenly over the surface. Is the surface tension of water strong enough to keep gravity in its place? Your kids can find out with this tried-and-true experiment that you probably did in your younger days.

Have your kids assemble the following items: a wine glass or another stemmed glass, a pitcher of water, and a cloth handkerchief. Ask them to place the glass on the table and drape the handkerchief over the glass. Have them poke the cloth into the glass into a little dimple. Next, your children can pour water into the glass until it is about three-quarters full (If your kids are too small to handle a pitcher of water, you may need to do this part of the experiment). Point out to them that the water passes through the handkerchief easily. Next, pull (or have your children pull) the handkerchief tightly across the top of the glass. Hold it in place, keeping one hand around the stem. Place your other hand on top of the glass to cover the opening completely. Hold the glass over the sink, and then turn it over slowly. Finally, pull your hand away from the mouth of the glass. The water should stay put in the glass due to the surface tension of the water.

After these amazing observations, your children may have some ideas of their own about other experiments they might want to perform. Providing that their proposals are safe for children their age, allow them to experiment freely as they please. Lend a hand if they need you. Learning experiences are, after all, something you will want to share with your kids.

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Definition and History of Sociology

DefinitionIn a nutshell, sociology is the scientific study of society. Sociologists use the tools and methods of science to understand how and why humans behave the way they do when they interact together in groups. Though social groups – or societies – are made up of individual people, sociology is the study of the group rather than of the individual. When it comes to understanding how the individual human mind works, sociologists largely leave that up to psychologists.Most people who call themselves “sociologists” work in universities and colleges, where they teach sociology and conduct sociological research. They ask a variety of questions about society, sometimes wanting answers just for the sake of curiosity; however, many times their findings are used to inform decisions by policymakers, executives, and other individuals. Many people who study sociology go on to conduct sociological research outside of academia, working for government agencies, think tanks, or private corporations. Accurate, systematic study of society is in one way or another useful to just about everyone.Studying sociology, whether or not you call yourself a “sociologist,” means taking a particular view of the world: a view that sociologist C. Wright Mills called “the sociological imagination.” You have to be willing to set aside your ideas about how the social world should work so that you can see how it actually works. That doesn’t mean that sociologists don’t have personal values and opinions about the social world; they believe that to change the world, you first need to understand it.HistorySociology is considered one of the social sciences – along with economics, psychology, anthropology, geography, and political science (among others). The social sciences were born in the 18th and 19th centuries, as people began applying the scientific method to human life and behavior. The world was changing dramatically and quickly as industrial production replaced agriculture, as democratic republics replaced monarchies, and as city life replaced country life. Realizing how many great insights science had lent regarding the natural world, people decided to try to use the same method to understand the social world.Among the social sciences, sociology has always been unique in its ambition to understand the entire social world – considering all its aspects in combination rather than in isolation. It’s a daunting task, and one that sociologists are still struggling with today.The most important early sociologists had clear ideas about how to study and understand society; these ideas still form the basis for much sociological investigation and discussion today. Karl Marx emphasized the importance of physical resources and the material world; he believed that conflict over resources is at the heart of social life. Emile Durkheim emphasized cooperation rather than conflict: He was interested in the shared norms and values that make cooperative social life possible. Max Weber took ideas from both Marx and Durkheim and argued that both conflict and cooperation, both material resources and cultural values are essential to social life.Over the past century, sociologists have continued to debate the early sociologists’ ideas and have applied them to specific societies all over the world. Thanks in large part to the influence of “the Chicago School” of sociologists in the early 20th century, sociologists today pay close attention to small groups and person-to-person interaction as well as to the grand sweep of social history. Today, sociologists appreciate that the big questions and the little questions regarding society are interlinked, and that you can’t understand the macro (the big) without also understanding the micro (the little).

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