1. Sugar Water Rainbow.
- Project: Study density with rainbow-colored sugar water.
- Supplies: Six tall glasses, food coloring, sugar, water, straw.
- Steps: Fill the six glasses to the top with water and add different colored food dye to each. Starting with the second glass (the first will be only water) add increasing amounts of sugar: one teaspoon in the second glass, two teaspoons in the third, three in the fourth, and so on. Stir until sugar dissolves. Place one end of the straw into the first glass, about one inch, then quickly cover the other end with your thumb. Continue this process for each glass, and you should see the colors layer into a rainbow as you go!
2. Germinate Seeds in a Jar:
- Project: Observe how plants grow by planting a seed in a clear glass jar.
- Supplies: jar, wet paper towels, journal, large fast-growing seeds (beans, squash, melon)
- Steps: Fill a clear jar with wet paper towels, then place a few seeds against the side of the jar so they're visible, near the bottom. Place in a sunny spot by a window, and the seeds should start to sprout in a few days. Keep an observation journal or chart nearby to keep a log of the progress, or take pictures to compare.
- Project: Create a mini-terrarium to illustrate how ecosystems work.
- Supplies: Clear jar with lid, pebbles, activated charcoal, potting soil, small plants, optional decor such as seashells, mini pinecones, decorative rocks, or plastic animals (we used tiny dinosaurs!)
- Steps: Put a layer of small rocks or pebbles at the bottom of the jar, then about a half-inch of activated charcoal (the charcoal acts as a filter for the water and inhibits any fungus from growing) then add potting soil to the jar until it's half full. Plant the small plants in the soil, pat down, and add any decorations on top. Water the soil as needed for the type of plant (succulents need very little for example, but moss or ferns will need more moisture.) Seal the jar and keep in medium to low light areas.
4. Rainbow Celery:
- Project: Learn about capillary action (how plants take in water) in plants with colorful celery stalks.
- Supplies: Six jars or tall glasses, food coloring, celery.
- Steps: Fill the jars or glasses about halfway with water and dye each a different color. Pull off six stalks of celery and place one in each jar then let sit. Observe often, the color should start appearing on the celery stalk within a few hours. Over the next few days, the celery stalks will fill with the bright colors all the way up through the leaves!
5. Hatch Butterflies or Ladybugs:
- Project: Discover the lifecycle of butterflies or ladybugs up close with a hatchery and habitat.
- Supplies: Mail-order hatching kit, journal
- Steps: Closely observe your caterpillars when they arrive after ordering a kit by journaling every day. In the meantime, study more about the butterflies with a pasta butterfly life cycle activity or this play dough ladybug life cycle activity. Be sure to follow the instructions on how to care for your newly metamorphosed friends, and when the day comes record their triumphant release into the wild!
6. DIY Rain Gauge:
- Project: Find out how rainfall is measured with a homemade rain gauge.
- Supplies: Empty plastic water bottle, small rocks, 12-inch ruler, permanent marker, sharp knife
- Steps: On a day that the forecast calls for rain, have a grown-up cut off the top of a water bottle, then invert it to make a funnel. Add the rocks to the bottom in order to keep the gauge in place, and draw a line just above the top of the rock to denote the bottom of the gauge and add water up to this line. Place outside and after it rains, measure the rain in the gauge. Check the local weather report to see if the amounts recorded match yours.
7. Homemade Solar Oven:
- Project: Reuse pizza boxes to make s'mores in a solar oven and learn about solar and thermal energy.
- Supplies: Cardboard delivery pizza box, aluminum foil, black construction paper, plastic wrap, tape, scissors, newspapers, aluminum pie plate, pencil, ruler, s'mores ingredients.
- Steps: Clean out pizza box, then draw lines on the lid one inch in from the edge. Cut out three sides of the lid, leaving the top, to create a flap. Fold the flap up to stand then cover the inside with aluminum foil, this will reflect the sunlight. To create heat inside, place black construction paper to cover the bottom of the pizza box. Use plastic wrap to create an air-tight window in the cut-out section, securing it to the inside edges with tape. Stuff rolled-up newspaper into the sides-this serves as insulation to keep the heat from escaping. When it's time to cook, place the pie tin and s'mores inside the oven and set in bright, direct sunlight when the sun's rays are strongest, around 11-2 pm. Check every 10 to 15 minutes for melting chocolate and marshmallows, and be sure to use oven mitts to remove plate- the solar oven can reach up 200°F!
8. Recycled Bird Feeder:
- Project: Become a bird watcher with a DIY bird feeder using recycled cans
- Supplies: Tin can, acrylic paint, paint brush, craft glue, craft sticks, ribbon, bird seed, scissors
- Steps: Clean and dry cans, then paint the outside in bright spring-like colors. Once dry, glue a craft stick about halfway on the inside of the can, this will be the perch for the birds. Tie the ribbon around the center, leaving enough length to tie the other end. Fill with seed and tie outside with the can on its side, then wait to see who shows up!
9. Construction Paper Sun Prints:
- Project: Make cool nature designs using the sun's UV rays.
- Supplies: Colorful construction paper, leaves and flowers, plexiglass (or plastic wrap and rocks)
- Steps: On a sunny day collect flowers and leaves, then place on construction paper outside on a flat surface. Make sure nature items are laid flat and spread out, then cover with plexiglass (or plastic wrap with rocks at the edge to keep in place) and leave the projects in the sun for two to three hours. Remove plexiglass or plastic, then lift plants from the paper to see the cool designs they left behind by blocking the UV light that damages the paper.
10. Water Cycle in a Bag:
- Project: Make in rain, in a bag!
- Supplies: Zip-top sandwich bag, permanent marker, water, blue food coloring, tape
- Steps: Draw waves on the bottom of the bag, and clouds and a sun on the top. Fill the bag with about 1/4 cup of water then add dye to make the water cycle process easier to observe. Seal the bag and tape on a window with sturdy tape. Check the bag often to see how the water will evaporate and collect on the sides then drip back down to the bottom.