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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