Bubble Wand Engineering

Blowing bubbles is fun! Take it to the next level by becoming a bubble wand engineer!

Experiment with different forms to see which works best for making bubbles. Can you change the shape of your bubbles or make them last longer? These are the types of experiments creative engineers would do to create the best designs for things they’re building. And, it’s okay if it doesn’t work well! That’s part of the design process. Go for it!

Materials Needed: 
    • Bubble solution (water, dish liquid (we recommend Dawn,) & sugar)
    • Plastic cups
    • Kitchen funnel
    • Drinking straws, plastic works best
    • Pipe cleaners
    • Kitchen fork
    • Your imagination

Step 1: Make Homemade bubble solution: ½ cup dish liquid (we recommend Dawn), 1 ½ cups of water, 2 teaspoons sugar. Gently mix together 

Step 2: Use your various “wands” to see which makes the best bubbles.

  • Plastic cups, punch a hole through the bottom to blow through, dip the top end into solution
  • Kitchen funnel, dip the large end into solution, blow through the small end
  • Drinking straws; try taping a group of drinking straws together for multiple bubbles
  • Pipe cleaners, bend into fun shapes and dip into the solution
  • Kitchen Fork, dip prongs into solution and blow on them to see what you get!
  • Your choice! Can you invent a better bubble wand using items you find in your house?
Discussion Topics:

Which wand makes the largest bubble?
The smallest?
The most?
The longest lasting?

Have fun engineering!

Elephant Toothpaste

Sometimes you just have to go big to get the kids attention, and this fun experiment will do the trick! 

Everyone needs clean teeth, right? What do you think it would like if elephants used toothpaste? In this fun chemistry experiment you’ll create a chemical reaction that grows before your very eyes… into something that looks like Elephant Toothpaste! 

Materials Needed: 
  • Empty plastic bottle
  • Dry yeast,  1 Tablespoon
  • Warm water, 3 Tablespoons
  • Liquid dish soap
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide (this is a special version of hydrogen peroxide)
  • Measuring cups 
  • Measuring spoons
  • Safety glasses
  • Outdoor Location 
  • Liquid food coloring (optional)
 

Step 1: Measure 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide, and carefully pour it into the bottle.

Step 2: Add a big squirt of dish soap into the bottle, and swirl gently to mix.

Step 3 (optional): If you want to make your foam a color, add a few drops of food coloring directly into the hydrogen peroxide, and swirl the bottle gently to mix. 

Step 4: In a measuring cup mix together one tablespoon of yeast and three tablespoons of warm water. Stir for about 30 seconds. 

Step 5: Pour the yeast mixture into the bottle then quickly step back, and watch for the chemical reaction to push the “elephant toothpaste” out of the bottle!

Did you know you’re doing chemistry?!

My Name In Nature Treasure Hunt

Have you ever talked to your child about being a good “observer?” What does it mean to really take note of things? Practice your observation skills in this fun experiment that will have you hunting outside for treasures you didn’t even know were there!

Nature Treasure Hunt

Use our “My Name In Nature” play sheet that has items you may find in your yard or neighborhood that correspond to each letter of the alphabet. Pick the letters that spell your name and start hunting!

For example, our buddy Dax had to find:

D: a smooth stone

A: an ant bed

X: something that smells bad 
I found a compost pile!

Try spelling all the names in your family to hunt the entire nature list!

Happy Hunting!

Household Catapult

There’s nothing like catapulting marshmallows across the kitchen to get kids excited about engineering!

This is a great activity to experiment with! Be a scientist and try it different ways by changing the types of materials you use to see what works best.

Suggested Materials: 

  • Popsicle sticks (approximately 8)
  • Rubber bands  (at least 5)
  • Spoon (plastic or wooden is fine, experiment with both!)
  • Marshmallows
Catapult Materials

Step 1. Stack a few popsicle sticks together (about 6 sticks works well) and wrap rubber bands around each end. 

Step 2: Combine two more popsicle sticks and wrap another rubber band around just one end.

Step 3: Slide the larger stack of popsicle sticks, in between the open side of the other two sticks. 

Step 4: Secure the two parts together with another rubber band by wrapping it across the spot where the two sets of sticks meet so the rubber band makes an X.

Step 5: Secure a plastic spoon onto the arm of your catapult with another rubber band.

Step 6: Place a marshmallow on the spoon, pull down, and let go to send it soaring!

Try experimenting with different materials (sticks, chopsticks, pencils, erasers, larger spoons, etc..) to see if you can make your catapult work better.

Discussion Points:
What else can you find to safely launch across the room?
What object soars highest?
Which goes farthest? 

Build A Solar Oven

Need to get the kids out of your kitchen? Send them outdoors, to make their own!

tag! DIY Camp Solar Oven Step 4

Here’s a super fun way to toast their scientific endeavors, by baking a s’more in their own Solar Oven!

Materials needed: 

  • Pizza box
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Black paper
  • Tape
  • 2 Wooden sticks (skewers, pencil, etc..)
  • Utility Knife (for adult or experienced user)

For S’mores: graham crackers, chocolate squares, marshmallows

tag! DIY camp Solar Oven Materials

Step 1: cut out a large window in the pizza box lid 

Step 2: cover bottom inside of pizza box with black paper

Step 3: Glue aluminum foil onto the inside of the new lid

Step 4: Lift new lid and cover the remaining lid shell opening with plastic wrap and tape to the edges

Step 5: line both lid and inside of the box with aluminum foil

Step 6: glue in place the second layer of black paper on top of foil inside the box (the oven area)

Step 7: prop the lid open at a 90-degree angle with wooden sticks

Step 8: Place food item inside (S’mores)

Step 9: Place in a sunny spot until melty & warm

Step 10: Enjoy! 

Discussion Points:
 How much sun do you need to cook s’mores?
What else could you make in your solar oven?

Totally worth it! 🙂 

Make Your Own Rain Gauge

Never let a rainy day stop you from having fun!

Put your innovative skills to work, pull out that recycle bin and get crafting! Rain is nature’s way of refreshing our earth and helping plants to grow.  When raindrops fall that’s part of the Water Cycle, scientifically known as Precipitation

How much precipitation does your yard need to stay healthy? Different climates are based on geography, annual temperatures, and the average amount of rainfall.

Measuring rainfall can give us a lot of data on what’s happening to the climate in any given area.

Are you curious about the rain that falls in your yard?

 

Homemade Rain Gauge

Follow these simple steps to make a Rain Gauge, to measure your local precipitation.

Materials Needed:
  • Empty plastic bottle (any size will do, but we like a 1 Liter bottle best!)
  • Scissors (with an adult’s help)
  • Permanent marker
  • Ruler
Make Your Own Rain Gauge

Step 1: With a parent’s help, cut off the top of the bottle about 2 inches from the top.

Step 2: Turn the piece you just cut off upside down and place it back inside the bottle making sure the top edges are flush. 

Step 3: Using the ruler, mark off lines at one-inch intervals from the bottom all the way to the top. Draw lines around the bottle at each of those one-inch intervals. Additionally, add marks at each half inch and quarter inch. (No need to draw lines all the way around for those measurements)

Step 4: Place your new rain gauge outside in an area free from trees and other overhangs where the rain can fall directly into it. 

*Note: to keep heavy rain or winds from blowing it over you can secure your rain gauge between flower pots, or use duct tape to affix it to a stick in the ground, etc…

Now have fun waiting for the rain!

Discussion point: Could there be some mornings you might find moisture in your rain gauge when it hasn’t rained?! Then you’ve observed condensation… another part of the water cycle!

tag_DIY_Water Cycle
Ice Cream In A Bag

Ice Cream In A Bag!

Kids and ice cream make good chemistry!

What summer (or any season for that matter!) day isn’t made better by a serving of ice cream?! 
Challenge your kids to take the science of ice cream making into their own hands.. Literally!

 

tag! DIY Camp Icecream in a plastic bag

Here is our recipe for… Easy homemade ice cream in a bag

Materials Needed:
  • Sugar 
  • Milk (half n half, heavy whipping cream, etc..)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Rock Salt (we like Morton’s Ice Cream Salt)
  • Ice Cubes
  • Measuring spoons & cup
  • Small sealable bag
  • Gallon-size sealable bag
  • Hand towel

Step 1: Pour ingredients into the smaller bag: 1T sugar, 1/4t vanilla, ½ cup milk (or half n half, heavy cream, etc..) 

Step 2: Add 4 cups to the gallon-sized bag, then add ½ cup of salt to the same bag

Step 3: Place the smaller bag with liquid into the middle of the ice in the larger bag.

Step 4: Wrap bag with a towel and shake it around for about 5 minutes. Check very few minutes to see your progress.

Step 5: Ice cream is ready when it had reached your desired consistency

Step 6: Grab a spoon and enjoy!

Add your own twist… strawberries or chocolate syrup!

IMG_4378

A Dicey Obstacle Course

Time to get the kids outdoors for some physical and mental fitness, leaving their pathway to fun to the roll of a die! This fun game can be played with a friend as a race or with just one player to celebrate their athletic accomplishment. Kids will be exercising their muscles and coordination with a little adventure mixed in!

 

A Dicey Obstacle Course
Materials Needed:
  • Die
  • Pencil & paper
  • A space large enough for movement, like a lawn, driveway, or park area
  • Tape or chalk

Step 1: Brainstorm 6 specific movements that would be fun, and slightly challenging to your child. Or choose from our list!* 

  1. Jumping jack
  2. Hop on one foot
  3. Spin in a circle
  4. Bunny hop
  5. Banana split step (one foot in front of the other as far as you can go without putting hands on ground)
  6. Crab walk (put your hands on the ground behind you and without letting your backside touch the ground walk on all fours)

     

More Examples: 

  • Burpee (jump up, then crouch down, walk your hands out to a plank position, then walk your feet up to meet your hands and stand up)
  • Backward Step*

     

Step 2: Write the six movements down on a piece of paper, assigning them each a number between 1-6. 

Step 3: Determine a Starting point in an area and mark it with tape or chalk. Then, count off 15-20 giant steps and mark a “Finish” line with the tape or chalk. 

Step 4: Roll the first die to see what movement* you get, and then roll the second die to see how many of those movements you must do in order to move toward the finish line.

For example: Rolling a #5 and a #6 would mean you take 6 Banana Split steps forward.

*Note: (some of the moves can create forward progress, some will keep you in the same position, and others could push your position back)

 

Make the moves as challenging as you want,
and Have fun!

Look Through My Weather Window!

My Own Weather Window  

Is the sky ALWAYS Blue? Or, if we are being clever observers, could we notice differences in shades? And might those different shades teach us something about forecasting the weather? This activity will help you make better observations ~ the first step to becoming a Junior Meteorologist!

IMG_1797
Materials Needed:
  • Crayons or paint color samples in shades of blue & grays
  • White Poster Board
  • Scissors or Craft Knife
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
 

Step 1: Cut poster board into a (determine appropriate size here) rectangle/square 

Step 2: Draw a 2-inch border and cut out the inside to create a “frame”

Step 3: Mark off every 2 inches (or so) around the square

Step 4: Color OR glue the BLUE paint samples in each square arranging the colors from lightest to darkest around the frame. (Side A)

Step 5: Repeat on the backside with the GRAY grouping of colors. (Side B)

Step 6: Once dry, Hold the window up to the sky and find your color match! 

Step 7: Make an observation: Is today’s sky a bright clear blue (like a color on Side A?) A milky white? An Ominous dark gray (like a color on Side B?) 

Discussion points:
If you see an ominous gray, what could you predict about the weather? Which color match would signify the best time for a picnic?

While you’re at it… make some more observations! Is it windy? Humid? Hot or cold? Does it look like you’ll need an umbrella soon? Or sunglasses?

Write down your observations, make some predictions, and then present a weather forecast to your friends!!

You’re a great observer and on your way to being a 
Junior Meteorologist!

Cotton Ball Launcher

Cotton Ball Launcher!

Did you know that rubber bands are full of energy? It’s called Potential energy, because they have the potential to make something happen. (Have you ever pulled and released a rubber band? You can feel that energy!) This experiment will let you test and see different forms of energy. Once you send cotton balls flying, you’ll be witnessing Kinetic energy, which is what is happening when an object is in motion. Try this experiment and watch energy in action!

Cotton Ball Launcher

Cotton Ball Launcher

Materials needed: 
  • 2 toilet paper tubes (or a paper towel tube cut in half)
  • A short pencil or stick (popsicle stick would work)
  • 2 thin rubber bands
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Single hole puncher
  • Cotton balls!

Step 1: Cut one tube in half, length wise.

Step 2: Squeeze the roll so it becomes about half the diameter it was before and tape it in place.

Step 3: Make two holes (either using scissors or a hole punch depending on the shape of your stick) opposite each other a half inch from the end.

Step 4: Slide the pencil or stick all the way through the tube.

Step 5: Using the second tube, cut two slits into the end of the tube about ¼ inch deep and about ½ in apart on one side of the tube; Repeat the same process on the same end of the tube just across from the first two.

Step 6: Loop one rubber band through the slits on one side of the tube and let it hang. Then, repeat with another rubber band through the slits on the other side. (you’ll have two rubber bands hanging)

Step 7: Add a piece of tape over both slits to reinforce the cardboard where the rubber bands are attached.

Step 8: Slide the tube with the pencil/stick into the larger tube so that the pencil is at one end and the rubber bands are at the opposite.

Step 9: Loop each rubber band around the pencil.

Step 10: Hold the tube so that the pencil/stick is at the bottom and place a cotton ball inside the top.

Step 11: Hold your launcher pointing away from any person or animal and pull the pencil back about two inches… Aim & release to see your cotton ball fly!

Discussion points:
The rubber bands store potential energy.
The farther you pull them back the greater the potential energy.
Once you release the bands, the energy becomes “Kinetic” as the cotton balls fly through the air!

How far were you able to launch your cotton ball?