Productive Science Activities for the Summer
Start a Collection
One of the best ways to learn about science in the summer is to make a collection of natural objects and learn as much about them as you can. For example, you might collect various types of rocks, leaves, or flowers and arrange them in your own collection. Get out a book from the library or buy one from your local bookstore about the items in your collection. Look up the different types of natural objects to find out their names and to learn about each one of them. Then label your finds, including a couple of sentences about each one on a notecard. If you'd like, you can create nature-related crafts out of your collection.
If you think that you know everything about your own backyard, think again! Go out there with a magnifying glass and examine everything even more closely. Look under rocks and low bushes, in the bark of trees, and between blades of grass. You'll be surprised what you find! Draw pictures of your discoveries or take digital pictures in order to share them with others.
In addition to examining nature, you can also create a small ecosystem within a bucket, net cage, net to collect and store bugs. However, you should let them go after an hour or two of observing to ensure they maintain life.
Water Fountain Science
In the summertime, people get thirsty very often. Many kids take drinks from a water fountain in order to quench their thirst. But are water fountains truly a good idea? Test to see how much bacteria remains on a water fountain after a given amount of time.
To do this, simply wash off the fountain's water hole with antibacterial soap and rinse well. Then swab the area around the hole and touch the swab to a prepared petri dish. Wait for some amount of time, depending on how often people use the fountain. (If several people use the fountain every hour, you can test it after one, two, and three hours. If only a few people use it each day, you'll need to wait at least a day between tests.) At each interval, swab the fountain around the hole once more and touch it to a new petri dish. Label each of the petri dishes accordingly, and wait a week or two for the bacteria to grow.
Note: Remember to account for the difference in growth time by taking pictures of each petri dish exactly a week after the petri dish was created.
Grow a Cocoon
Caterpillars are abundant in the late spring and early summer. Catch some and place them in a shoebox with plenty of grasses, leaves, and sticks. (Make sure to poke holes in the top of the box so that air can circulate.) Even better, find a box made of clear plastic so that you can observe the caterpillars easily. In time, you'll find them spinning cocoons! Wait patiently for the day when the butterflies emerge from their cocoons and let them fly away. This is a great way to make science in the summer come alive!