What is What in Science with Kids!

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Include Science in your School-Age and Child Care Programs!

Some of the following ideas would be great for a Science Club, project, experiment or demonstration…Lots in here to get you on your way!

FIRST, SOME FYI FOR PROGRAM CLUBS & EXPERIMENTS…(Be sure to see the ideas below in Technology, Biology, etc.)

Don’t be afraid of Science! If you are a novice in presenting ‘Science Activities’ – this section includes a little background.  It never hurts to know a ‘little bit’…Plan your activities and it could very well become the hi-light of your program! (Also great fun to do at home.) You may find out that you’ve been doing some science all along!!!

The idea behind a science project is to see what happens if…
What happens to one thing if you change something else while you keep all of the other conditions the same? All of a sudden you’re a scientist.
That’s the heart of all research, and a science project is just another name for research.

One thing to keep in mind:
Science PROJECTS are NOT the same as science demonstrations. The idea behind a science project is to learn something new–through an experiment. You might guess the result beforehand, but you won’t know for sure what will happen until you try out the experiment.

A DEMONSTRATION is different. It’s fun to show that vinegar and baking soda together cause a reaction, for example. And if the reaction occurs like a volcano, you really do see the reaction explode. But that’s all it is–a demonstration. No new information is discovered. You know exactly what the reaction is going to be.

While your science project may be simpler than a scientist’s, it still needs to follow the same basic steps that make up the Scientific Process.
1.  The Research Question
2.  The Hypothesis
3.  The Procedure
4.  The Results
5.  The Conclusion

GENERAL CATEGORIES OF SCIENCE-With ideas included in each!

1. TAKE THINGS APART (Technology)

When children ask, “How does this work?” help them to find out.

  • Provide non-working toasters, clocks, VCR’s, tape recorders, radios and other appliances to disassemble.
  • Remove electrical cords and establish guidelines for taking things apart (Provide adult supervision, at this table, no more than 2 children at a time, etc.).
  • Facilitators can teach safe use of tools at disassembly stations where screwdrivers, pliers, and bins for sorting screws and small parts are stored.


  •  Ask kids to predict how far cars will roll. Mark predictions with tape and measure the actual distances.
  •  Compare. Change the length and angles of ramps and compare results.
  •  Connect PVC pipes to roll marbles or running water downhill to fill containers or connect with other pipes.
  •  Use pulleys to move buckets of dirt across a yard.
  •  Create wheeled platforms to move heavy objects.
  •  Help children set up ramps at different angles to roll Matchbox cars.


1.  When children find a frog, roly-poly bugs, moths, or an anthill, offer a magnifying glass or microscope for looking very closely.
2.  If they notice birds building a nest, provide binoculars and help them make regular observations to record what they see.
3.  Compare observations over time. Ask children to predict what might happen next (baby birds?)

4. GROW THINGS (Horticulture)

  • Grow different types of beans in wet cotton and plastic bags; tape the baggies to a window and some in a closet.
  • Observe and photograph (or draw) sprouting once a week.
  • Discuss differences in growth patterns and what plants need to grow. Measure and graph plant heights.
  • Plant a garden and eat harvested vegetables.
  • Discuss what animals and plants need for growing well.


Offer measuring tapes, rulers, thermometers, balance scales, measuring cups, clocks, hour-glasses.

  • Stand-on scales and help children weigh and measure everything…shoes, feet, living plants, table heights, how many minutes it takes to eat lunch, how long each child naps, etc.
  • Record measurements, repeat often, and discuss what changes and what stays the same.

6. CHANGE THINGS (Chemistry)

  • Observe frozen and boiling water and steam. Discuss what happens when water changes state.
  • Help children make Jell-O or ice cream. (Remember cooking and making play dough, goop, gak and slime is also science! Anything that turns liquid into a solid is science!)
  • Ask them to predict the effects of mixing cinnamon, salt, sugar, clean sand, and dirt into water.
  • Experiment and draw results.

7. STIMULATE A SENSE OF WONDER (Scientific Method)

  • Ask open-ended questions like “I wonder what might happen if…” or “If we change the temperature (or size, or shape,  or location), what do you think will happen?”
  • Answer their questions by asking, “How might we find out?” Encourage predictions.
  • Offer materials for experiments. Test out ideas. Discuss results. Ask more open-ended questions.
  • Teachers do not need to have all the answers. What you need is curiosity, a little planning, some interesting “stuff,” and pleasure in watching young scientists develop.


Capitalize on this interest by encouraging youth to bring their finds to your program for your science center. Example:

  • LOTS of kids have rock collections. Do a geology theme and have kids bring in interesting and different rocks and minerals they have collected.
  • Provide field guides and a mineral test kit to identify each rock or mineral sample. They can learn about the properties of rocks and minerals as they perform tests on their own specimens, checking the streak, color, hardness, luster, and more.

The same principle of collecting, identifying, and sharing can be used for botany, insects, and more. Click here if you’d like to visit the Everything about Critters Category. (Insects)

For  several ‘linked Science Section pages’: click here

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