Christine Koh

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I'm Christine Koh, a music and brain neuroscientist turned multimedia creative. I'm the founder + editor of Boston Mamas, co-author of Minimalist Parenting, co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, and creative director at Women Online. Drop me a line; I'd love to chat about how we can work together!

Curbing the Summer Slump: Science

drawing-on-ground.jpgToday, Sheri concludes our Curbing the Summer Slump series with fun ideas to engage your kids in everyday science:

Science is one of the subjects that children get the most excited about and summer is a great time to dive into easy science investigations in your kitchen, backyard, garden, or at the beach (though of course any time of year is great for scientific exploration!). Since science focuses on the hypothesis, experiment, and conclusions drawn, ask the following questions and let your child do the thinking, problem solving, exploring:

1. What do you think will happen? (hypothesis/prediction)
2. Why do you think it will happen? (analysis)
3. How could we make it different? (variables)

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Here are some fun ideas for inspiring scientific exploration in your kitchen or backyard:

FAVORITE KITCHEN SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS

Easy to do, messy (all the more fun!), and loaded with scientific thinking and possibilities, the kitchen is full of opportunities to explore science using common household ingredients.

Oobleck (properties of matter-solid/liquid)
Slowly stir ¼ cup water (and food coloring if you wish) into a ½ cup of cornstarch. The mixture will be hard to stir but should become consistent. What your child will discover is that when they pick it up and squeeze it, they can make a solid shape. Within seconds the shape will melt into a liquid again. Kids love Oobleck and the fun of turning a liquid into a solid and vice versa. This is messy and best explored outside where the garden hose can wash away the mess.

Mini Rockets (chemical reaction)
Put 2 tsp of baking soda or ½ an antacid tablet in a film canister with a snap on lid. Quickly pour 2 tsp vinegar in and snap the lid onto the container placing it cap side down. Back away and wait. Within a minute the container cap will pop, sending the container shooting up in the air. School age children love this experiment. You can even design the container by adding wings to see if it changes the results. Note: wear goggles or sunglasses for eye protection!

Homemade Bubbles
Nothing is more fun than creating bubbles during the warm summer days. Making your own solution is fun and easy -- simply mix a ½ cup of dishwashing liquid (Dawn or Joy work best), 2 cups of water, and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Try experimenting with pipe cleaners and straws to create your own wand shapes. See how big a bubble you can make or how changing the solution changes the life of the bubbles you make. It is all about experimenting, hypothesizing, and having fun!

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BACKYARD SCIENCE

The garden and backyard provide lots of opportunities for science discussions. Here are some sample activities:

  • Plant something and chart the growth.
  • Outline a puddle and keep track of the evaporation over time.
  • Play with shadows and discuss the sun's location and size of shadows at different times of the day.
  • Watch the moon phases and star gaze and discuss.
  • Take a nature hike and make a list for a scavenger hunt.
  • Collect rock specimens of various sizes and shapes and compare.
  • Create a rain gauge using a simple cup or can to chart the amount of rainfall.
  • Dig in the mud to see what critters you can find living there. Just be sure to put them back and discuss how they are important for the soil.

    See how easy it is to find science in the every day? You can translate these properties to wherever you're vacationing during the remainder of summer, or through your every day adventures through the year. Just keep the what, why, and how questions in mind!

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    Have questions or suggestions? Please share in the comments below!

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    Image credit: sakhorn38 via FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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