It is every parents nightmare. On Tuesday night, thirty minutes before bed time, your child suddenly remembers that he has a science project due the next day. And not just any science project – a science experiment. You hastily dig the assignment sheet – crumpled and forgotten – out of his backpack and feel more exhausted by the second as you read the requirements: three part whiteboard display, minimum two weeks data collection, full use of the scientific method, written summary of findings.
You take a deep breath, and think – what could you possibly do for a kid’s science experiment in one night?
Well, we may not be able to shrink time so that you can put together two weeks worth of data in 12 hours, but here are a few ideas that can help you out in a pinch:
First: The Scientific Method (A Review for Parents):
1. Define the Question
2. Locate Resources and Gather Information
3. Formulate a Hypothesis
4. Plan Research Collection Methods
5. Collect Data
6. Organize and Analyze Data
7. Interpret Data and Draw Conclusions
8. Describe the Results
Next: Some Ideas for Kids’ Science Experiments
Test what kind of battery lasts the longest by racing five sets of the same car (bonus: your child gets to keep the cars!) with different kinds of batteries.
Test and see if temperature affects the strength of a magnet. Buy several of the same magnet, and stick one in the fridge, on in the freezer, one on the counter, and one in a slightly warm oven. Take the temperature of each before testing their strength in attracting a growing number of paper clips. Rate their performance in number of paper clips
See what the best insulator is to keep ice from melting. The downside to this experiment for kids is that they don’t get to keep any magnets or cars! But the upside for parents is that you can probably reuse the different materials for insulation – or you may even have them on hand: an ice chest, wood, foam, cloth, and anything else you can think of.
Pour five different liquids – oil, water, vinegar, soda pop, juice of the same amount into the same kind of containers and monitor the rate at which they freeze. Do some liquids reach 32 degrees faster than others?
Done: Write it Up
After you finish your testing, all you have to do is help your child summarize the findings and illustrate them on a white board with markets and construction paper – your printer might come in handy here too. Voila! An awesome – and easy – science experiment to the rescue. And if you are really lucky, your child’s teacher won’t even notice the twelve hour data timeline.
By AC Jensen
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