It seems harder all the time to get kids excited about science. With all the distractions in their lives like video games and iPads, it can feel like an uphill battle to get them unplugged long enough to learn about science. While children learn about science in school, there is nothing like the power of a really fun, real-life science project to get them interested in the subject. To that end, try one of these five hands-on projects that will get any kid excited about science.
1. Create a Simple Hovercraft
Hovercrafts make people of all ages marvel, but they will especially get kids excited. You can create your own simple hovercraft with the kids using a few items that can be found throughout the home. The only things you need are a balloon, an old CD, the pop-top cap from a bottle of dishwashing soap, and a hot glue gun. To make the hovercraft, glue the pop-top cap over the hole in the middle of the CD. After the glue dries, make sure the pop-top is closed. Next, blow up the balloon and place it over the cap. Now, all you need to do is open up the cap, and the air released from the balloon will make the CD turn into a miniature hovercraft.
2. Make Lightning
Lighting is one of the most dramatic of nature’s effects, and you can show kids how it works by creating miniature lighting with static electricity. You will need a pencil with an eraser, an aluminum pie tin, a wool blanket, a thumbtack and a piece of Styrofoam. Start by sticking the thumbtack up through the bottom of the pie pin. Push the pencil eraser down on the tack. The pencil serves as a handle that keeps you from getting shocked. Next, rub the wool as fast as you can on the Styrofoam for two minutes. This will create a tremendous build-up of static electricity. When you bring the pie tin down towards the Styrofoam, this static electricity will be released in the form of sparks that look like miniature lightning.
3. Find the “Life” in a Drop of Water
One of the best ways to get kids excited about science is to let them use microscopes. There are all sorts of fun experiments you can do with a microscope, but one of the best is also one of the simplest. All you need to do is to create slides with drops of water from various sources. Try finding water from more muddy or soil-rich areas for best results. Have the kids look at the water for life forms like amoebas, protozoa, algae and euglenas. Use microscopes designed for kids in order to make the experiment easier for your children, and so they can use the equipment on their own. Have the kids record things about the creatures’ behavior and draw them.
4. The Floating Paper Clip
Some of the coolest science experiments for kids teach them about surface tension. One of the best is to make a paper clip float. You will need a bowl of water, a paper clip, a pencil with an eraser, and some tissue paper. Start by having the kids try to get the paper clip to float, which they will find impossible. Next, put a piece of tissue paper on top of the water. Gently lay the paper clip on top of the tissue, and then very carefully push the tissue paper down into the water without touching the paper clip. The paper clip will stay above the water thanks to the surface tension phenomenon.
5. Penny Cleaning
Show kids how useful science can be by cleaning some dirty pennies. Place some old, dirty pennies in a bowl filled with a quarter cup of vinegar. Add a teaspoon of salt, and mix well. In about 10 seconds, the pennies will look shiny as the day they came from the mint.
These five science experiments will get any kid excited about science. Once they get hooked on science, you will be amazed at how deep they want to dive into it. You can try a new experiment every day to get keep them interested, and there are always more to find.