Learning about science doesn’t mean having to stay inside with a book. Nature offers so much to explore and experiment with that’s hands-on.
If you’re looking to immerse your family in nature and make some memories, start with these fun science experiments that don’t require much more than items you can find in your own backyard. Your kids will not only get a lesson in science, but they’ll also learn about sustainability by using the natural resources around them.
Will It Float or Sink?
This is a great backyard science experiment for younger kids to learn about the differences between things that float and those that sink—but older kids will still enjoy it, too. Start by collecting items around your backyard, like rocks, leaves, twigs, and flowers. Fill a bucket or container with water, and then take guesses whether each item will float or sink before you put it in the water and discover the answer. Talk about what the differences are between the items, like weight and size, that might affect the outcome.
Show Me The Rainbow
This is definitely one of the fun science experiments you can do on a hot day. All you need is some water and sunlight. Simply grab your watering hose and set the nozzle to mist, or fill a spray bottle with water and find a sunny spot in the yard. Spray some water into the sunlight and see if you can spot a rainbow.
Experiment with different angles, and ask your kids why the rainbow disappears when you move. It’s a great way to talk about how rainbows are formed and, even for younger kids, to learn what the colors are. Just be prepared to get a little wet!
This is a hands-on science experiment that can help kids who are a bit older learn about how greenhouses and ecosystems work. All you need is:
- A clear balloon
- A funnel
- ½ cup planting soil
- ¼ cup water
- Radish seeds
Slip the balloon on the end of a funnel, and slowly pour in the soil. Next, pour the water and carefully drop the seeds in. Remove the balloon from the funnel, blow some air in to fill it out (but don’t expand it completely) and then tie it shut.
Attach some string on the knotted end and hang your balloon in a sunny spot by a window. Check it every day for progress, and you should hopefully see some sprouts within a couple of weeks. As you examine the growth, talk about how the closed balloon uses the sun to heat the air and create humidity, which then cycles back into water for the plants.
Science doesn’t have to be complicated or only happen in a classroom. Your backyard is full of opportunities for some fun science experiments. What hands-on science activities have you tried with your kids outdoors? Share your ideas with us on Twitter!
Image source: Sher Warkentin
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