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Science Day Fun

Kindergarten Science Day Fun

Living in Michigan, the opportunity to get messy with some good old fashion science fun is often something that we can take advantage of only very early in the school year or very late. But when we have a stretch of sunny, beautiful skies, I want to make sure my students get the chance to see science in action. A Kindergarten Science Day is just the ticket to get them outside and engaged in science. Science on a big scale, with a bunch of kids–especially very young kids–can be daunting, but hopefully, this post will help you see how easily it can be organized and carried out.

SCIENCE DAY ACTIVITIES

This year I selected science activities that would be both ‘crowd pleasers’ and also ones that would be hands-on and engaging. I mean . . . it’s always fun to ‘watch’ science, but when you can get your hands on it and get in there and get messy and see reactions up close . . . well that is pure magic. Below I have a list of the five activities we included in our Science Day.

1. POP ROCK SCIENCE

This activity is one that I actually have done with my own sons and have blogged about it in the past. You can see my original post HERE. It’s one I love doing because, let’s face it, what kid doesn’t love candy and soda (or POP as it’s referred to in Michigan)? Steve Spangler is the guru of cool experiments and kid-pleasing science activities, and the original idea comes from him. Make sure you check out his amazing website for so many AMAZING science ideas.

WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO NEED:

Your materials list for this one isn’t too lengthy.  Here’s what you’re going to want to get:

  • Safety glasses. We have these left over from our Nerf Gun parties over the last several years, but you can get really inexpensive ones at The Dollar Tree.
  • A medium to large-sized balloon for each child.  It needs to be big enough that it will fit over the rim of the soda top. (Again, I got these from the Dollar Tree.)
  • A bottle of soda for each child. We don’t really drink soda, so I went to the Dollar Tree.  My own boys wanted to know if different sugar content or caffeine would change the results when we did it. So I kind of followed their thinking and picked up a variety or whatever they had.
  • And, of course, Pop Rocks! I got mine again at the Dollar Tree because you could get three in a packet for $1.00.  It’s still the best deal I can find.
  • A small funnel that will allow you to dump the Pop Rocks into and past the mouth of the balloon.

PREPPING YOUR MATERIAL:

  • Have the seal on each bottle already removed
  • Take and empty one packet of Pop Rocks into the balloon. Shake the rocks so that they are all down inside the balloon and not lingering near the open end of the balloon.
  • Take the balloon and open the mouth of it and place it on top of the bottle being careful to keep the contents of the balloon hanging down over the side.

HOW WE PULLED IT OFF:

Because we had combined two kindergarten classes for our Science Day, it wasn’t really financially possible for us to have all 45 children do this experiment, so we selected a couple of students from each class to be hands-on and used some questioning techniques and solicited hypotheses to get the others involved.

Of course, I pre-empted this entire activity by getting everyone excited . . . “Who loves candy? What is this kind of candy? What happens when you eat this kind of candy . . .” And then, “Who loves Coke . . . or Mountain Dew . . . or Rootbeer . . . ” and what happens when you drink a lot of pop and drink is fast . . . ?” Of course, they then all laugh and start talking about burping and which soda creates the biggest burp and how sometimes the burp goes up your nose. . . ”

And from there, we were easily able to segway into a ” . . . if Pop Rocks make your ears pop and soda makes your belly ‘pop’, then what would happen if you drank soda with Pop Rocks?” “Would the type of soda you drank matter . . . would the amount of sugar in the soda matter . . .” I did a brief, kindergarten level, explanation of what it was that made Pop Rocks pop and what makes soda sizzle and bubbly and then we got our experiment started.

Once we had all our predictions, each student, at the count of three, tipped their balloon up, emptying the contents of the balloon into the bottle.

That’s when the two carbon dioxide elements mix and start creating the gas that will inflate the balloon.

If you’d like to know more about how the ‘science’ behind this experiment works, please go to my original post. It sets it up nicely and explains what that POPPING in Pop Rocks is really all about. You can find that post by clicking on the picture below:

Kindergarten Hands-on Science

2. SCIENCE DAY CHALK ROCKETS

The next activity is always a crowd pleaser because we make things go BOOM. Or at least, they go POP! PLUS . . . this one is MESSY. It’s true I have tested many of these experiments out of my boys first, because, I figure if I can manage it with three boys, then it’s doable for a class (or two) of kindergarteners. Plus, they give me their honest feedback as to whether the activity will be AWESOME and my kids will love it . . . or whether it will be just ok or not at all. When I was planning this day, all three of them demanded that this one be included. It’s just too fun.

WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO NEED:

  • Plastic Film canisters – I ordered mine from Amazon years ago when I did this activity with my boys and ended up using the same containers. They came 12 to a pack so I was able to repeat this activity 4 times and all the students could participate. You can actually get a variety of quantities. So order what you need.
  • Corn Starch -Available from your cupboard, grocery store, or the Dollar Tree
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Alka Seltzer – (I used the Meijer brand and they worked just fine. They are also available at the Dollar Tree.) You’ll need one tablet per student.
  • Safety Goggles – use the same ones you used for the first activity
  • Large pieces of butcher paper (This is optional.) to help with the mess that will be left behind.

PREPPING YOUR MATERIAL:

  • Go ahead and have equal parts corn starch and water mixed up ahead of time to speed things up. You will need enough of this ‘concoction’ to fill about 1/3-1/2 of the canister for each student. Have a spoon available to mix the concoction occasionally so it doesn’t become too stiff and scoop it into the canisters.

HOW WE PULLED IT OFF:

Because we had such a large group of students, we did this activity four times. Students who weren’t participating were watching (and believe me . . . watching the reaction is pretty darn fun too.). Before getting started, we talked about Alka Seltzer and how these effervescent tables, when mixed with water, have a reaction that causes carbon dioxide bubbles to form (We talked about this gas in our previous activity!!!). So what do they think will happen when all that gas starts forming in that teeny tiny container?

  1. I lined my 12 students up along the paper facing the other students who were sitting back from them about 15 feet or so.
  2. I gave each student a canister and asked them to practice putting the lid on it quickly, snapping it down, and flipping it over. This is an important step in the activity and if they don’t do it quick enough, the POP never happens. I had them do this a couple of times.
  3. I filled each canister about 1/3 full of the corn starch and water mixture.
  4. Students were allowed to put a couple of drops of their favorite food coloring in the canister.
  5. Students were then handed an Alka Seltzer tablet to break in four pieces with strict instructions to hold them in their hand.
  6. I explained to them that when I said go, they would need to quickly place the tabs in the canister, put the lid on and snap it and then flip it over.
  7. Once they flip it over, they needed to move back away from the canister and paper quickly.

You have to check out this video . . . I’m hoping you can hear all the popping. It was our last set of kids AND every single one of them completed the activity with success.

YouTube video

And it left a beautiful mess! If you’d like to see my original post about Chalk Rockets, you can click HERE or on the picture below. There are a few better, up close pictures that you can see that were a bit easier to get when I was only managing 3 kids versus 45. Feel free to check it out.

Chalk Rockets for Kindergarten Science Day

3. MENTOS AND DIET COKE ERUPTION

Yep! It’s an oldie but a goodie and in a day when everything they see is on Youtube, I love being able to bring this simple but effective activity alive before their very eyes.

WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO NEED:

  • Several bottles of Diet Coke (You can use regular Coke, but Diet is less sticky which is why I prefer it.)
  • A sleeve of Mentos for every bottle of Diet Coke you have.
  • A Mentos Geyser tube. (Do you HAVE to have one of these? No! But it will make things easier for you. I like the one ‘HERE‘ because it has different patterned caps to make the eruption behave differently each time. So you load the geyser tube, place it on top of the soda bottle and pull the pin. Easy Peasy. Even easier is the ‘pull a string’ method which allows you to be out of the line of fire while the entire packet of mentos hit the coke at the same time. )

PREPPING YOUR MATERIAL:

There really isn’t a ton to prep for this activity. I do like to have my bottle tops loosened up before hand and the mentos unwrapped and placed in plastic baggies just so it goes a bit faster.

HOW WE PULLED IT OFF:

This was probably the easiest one to pull off. Students simply sit in a circle and watch the action. If you DO elect to get the string action geyser tube, you can have students take turns pulling the string to make it more exciting.

If you want to know more about Mento Geysers, please go see the master, Steve Spangler at Steve Spangler Science.

4. FIZZING DINOSAUR EGGS

In the last couple of weeks of school, we have a HUGE dinosaur unit that carries out over a couple weeks time (more on that coming soon)! So my students by this time are ALL about dinosaurs. They can name them, sort them, and tell you their special features. They can tell you where they were found and . . . well you get the picture.

They are regular little paleontologists and every piece of rock they find on the playground is ‘an actual dinosaur bone’ in their mind. So as a culmination to that unit and because I LOVE the dialogue and language I hear when they ‘play paleontologist,’ I decided to give them the opportunity to extract some dinosaurs by using ‘chemicals’ to find the hidden dinosaurs in their eggs.

WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO NEED:

  • Baking Soda – So one box of baking soda will make about three eggs large enough to hide a teeny little dino. You’ll need to figure out how many students you have and divide that number by 3 to see how many boxes you need. Luckily baking soda is relatively cheap. I got a box for $.54 at the Dollar Tree. (Wait! What?! Not everything is a dollar there? – I guess not!”) .
  • Water
  • White Vinegar – I would have a gallon bottle for 20 kids. We went through about a gallon and a half for 45 kids.
  • Pipettes – plastic medicine droppers – one for each child. If your school doesn’t have these, you can purchase them pretty reasonably on Amazon, here!
  • Sheets of tin foil cut into about a foot square piece.
  • Dixie cups – one for each student
  • Food coloring
  • Parchment paper or tin foil
  • Glitter (optional)

PREPPING YOUR MATERIALS:

So there are a bunch of different posts out there on how to make fizzing dinosaur eggs. I pretty much followed Simple Fun Chemistry’s how-to instructions except instead of putting food coloring in the baking soda directly, I added it to the water I was adding to the baking soda. I don’t think it really matters, but here’s the gist of what I did.

  1. One box of baking soda will make about three eggs big enough to hide a small toy dinosaur. You can dump an entire box in a mixing dish along with a good heaping of glitter (optional).
  2. Add the color of food coloring you’d like your eggs to be to the water you will be using to make your egg paste. It’s going to take about 1/4 cup of water to make the paste.
  3. Add the water to the baking soda slowly. When the consistency has become moldable, place a dab in one hand, add your dinosaur and shape an egg around the dinosaur. (I kind of like the fact that they don’t look like a ‘perfect’ egg shape.
  4. Once your egg is shaped, place it on a piece of parchment paper or tin foil to dry. I left mine out for a couple of days.
  5. They are pretty fragile so you will want to be careful not to drop them or jostle them around too much. I only had one ‘break’ when my 87-year-old mother stopped over at my house when we weren’t home, and she just couldn’t resist . . . she had to know what I was making.
  6. The only other thing to prep would be to have about a foot long piece of tinfoil cut and ready to go for each child to work on when it was time for the activity.

HOW WE PULLED IT OFF:

The beauty of a warm spring day is that this activity can be as messy as you want it to be and it’s really not going to cause any damage. We had our students line up across from a friend on our school’s paved exercise path.

Because we had been talking about paleontologists and excavation during the 2 weeks prior to science day, my students had heard how scientist had to be very careful when they were excavating.

Today we were going to excavate a dinosaur from its egg using a chemical reaction to ‘break’ the egg open and release the dinosaur.

Each child was given a piece of tinfoil, a small cup of white vinegar, a pipette and a dinosaur egg.

Using the pipette, they would drip the vinegar onto the egg and the reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar would create a reaction (fizzing) that would eventually release their dinosaur.

CLOUD DOUGH

If you’re going to ‘release’ toy dinosaurs, you have to have something fabulous to put that dinosaur in and play a bit. We decided that it might be fun to give our students the opportunity to make some cloud dough. Cloud dough is super simple to make and it feels and smells amazing. I know, I know . . . it’s not hardcore science, but anytime students get to take familiar materials and mix them together to make something new and fabulous–it’s kind of a sensory, hands-on home-run!

WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO NEED:

For every 2 students you’ll need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup baby oil
  • A disposable tin pan for every 2 children – I got these at the Dollar Tree. I think they were a 2 pack for $1.00.
  • 1 Cup measuring cup
  • 1/4 Cup measuring cup
  • Glitter
  • Small quart size Ziploc bags

PREPPING YOUR MATERIALS:

You really don’t need to prep much for this activity. Part of the fun of this activity is to have students do the measuring and mixing.

HOW WE PULLED IT OFF:

I’ve made could dough before in my class during the winter months and simply had Dollar Tree table cloths laying all over the floors to manage the mess. Doing it outside though . . . it makes things so much more simple. Students paired up to sit across from each other. Between them, you will have the large tin pan.

Now you can either have students come dish out their own flour and baby oil or you can dish it out for them. It really doesn’t matter. With 45 kids and this being our last activity of the morning, we went ahead and dished out 2 cups of flour and 1/4 cup of baby oil along with a good dose of glitter into each pan. Students then used their hands to mix the ingredients together.

What they ended up with was a ‘moon sand’ like soft, silky consistency. And since they had just unearthed their dinosaurs, they had something to play with in their newly made dough.

After they have had some time to play and explore, divide up the dough in each pan, placing each students’ dinosaur along with a portion of the dough in a bag for students to take home with them. We like to staple a quick recipe and explanation of what’s in the bag for parents just in case they decide to make a little dough over the summer.

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS:

Doing this kind of thing can seem overwhelming and chaotic, but with the proper planning and a bit of help, it will end up being one of your most memorable and engaging days . . . Your students won’t forget it.

Here’s just a few suggestions:

  • For our two kindergarten classes, we had four adults total to manage the activities. Don’t be afraid to ask some responsible parents or family members to give you a hand corralling kids and managing activities.
  • All these materials are pretty common and not hugely expensive, but when you put them all together, it can be costly. Ask parents if they can donate some of the more common household items you’ll need. Believe me, every little bit will help.
  • Allow for plenty of time. Our five activities took us a good two hours to complete. You can’t rush a great day. Take your time, let your students enjoy themselves and . . . enjoy watching them, enjoying themselves.

Hope you found some helpful hints by learning about our Kindergarten Science Day!

Marsha Moffit McGuire

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