Boost your summer break with hands-on science the whole family can enjoy. From activities you can do with the kids in an afternoon, to projects you can set up as challenges for the kids to work on throughout the summer, summer science can help keep the summer doldrums—and summer brain drain—at bay.
Finding a balance of activities to keep students occupied during long summer days can be a challenge, but the summer break may also be a treasure trove of opportunity. Without school deadlines, school exams, and the trudge to and from school each day, students have more time to spend on areas of personal interest—and time to explore, pursue, and be exposed to potential new areas of interest as well. Of course, there is also plenty of time for the things they already love, whether that means shooting hoops at the corner park, playing video games, or perfecting skateboarding tricks.
It's all a matter of balance. But if left to their own devices (figuratively and literally), summer can be a slippery slope. You might look back and few months from now and see that the break melted away in a blur of screen time—a blur that brings with it the risk of brain drain, a measurable loss of academic learning, especially in areas of math and literacy.
Encouraging Summer Science
The good news is that finding ways to nudge, encourage, and empower them to do projects and activities that are both fun and enriching is easier than you might think. Giving a dash of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to some of your summer plans is a great way to occupy the kids with learning experiences and challenges that you can all feel good about. Plus, you might spark long-lasting interest that will carry them into the next school year—and maybe beyond!
The following posts are full of ideas for summer science activities and projects that make great choices for summer science, for the kids or for the whole family:
- Beat Brain Drain with Summer Science: a recap of the risks of "brain drain" and an assortment of hands-on suggestions for summer science projects, from perfecting the perfect soda formula in your house to launching baking soda- and vinegar-filled film canisters or putting everyone's taste buds to the sour power test.
- Create a Carnival of Robot Critters this Summer: whether your kids prefer to see the circuits or to disguise them with fun costumes, you and your kids can create a collection of cool robotic animals, bugs, and creatures to tag along this summer!
- Sparking Interest in Science and Science History for the Read Aloud Crowd: a round-up of great science-themed picture books. Don't miss our roundup last summer of great science reads for parents and older readers and our list of science-themed manga, too!
- Spring Break Science: A Hands-on Project Survival Guide: we pulled together some top picks for family science over spring break. These projects, including awesome DIY hula hoops that pack a physics lesson, are all excellent choices for summer science!
- Family Dinner: Serving Up Science: working a bit of science into your dinner table talk can be a great way to get everyone talking, thinking, and asking science questions.
- Creative Summer Science: A Science Collection: encourage students to seek out specimens and cultivate a science collection during summer months—and put it on display!
- Home Science Activity Spotlight: M&M Math: what is the likelihood of pulling a yellow M&M® from a bag? This project or activity is a great way to turn a sweet treat into a hands-on math exploration with a bit of statistics thrown in for added flavor!
- Video Game Design Summer Program: Week 1: channeling video game interest into an exploration of design, programming, and even the development of science-based content for a game or app can be perfect for summer. This post summarizes the first week (last year) in a convenient virtual video game design program which adds some structure to the learning process for young game designers and programmers.
- Tower Talk: Hands-on Materials Science and Engineering: get hands on exploring the ins and outs of tower building using LEGO®, spaghetti, or even newspaper. How tall can you build—and why?
- Hovercraft: A Multi-Terrain Vehicle: using materials you probably have around the house, your students can park the die-cast cars for the day and embark on an afternoon's worth of hovercraft racing with their own balloon-powered vehicles.
- Putty Science: Family Fun with Polymers: use Elmer's® white school glue, borax, and water to mix up a batch of stretchy putty and learn more about polymers in this fun, tactile activity.
- Roller Coaster Science: Marbles, Tubes, and Loops: experiment with engineering and physics by building paths for marbles to race, climb, and loop.
- Family Math: Making a Geodesic Dome from Straws: make a geodesic dome out of straws or newspaper. This project takes patience, but you might all end up looking differently at the pattern on the family soccer ball!
- Home Science Activity Spotlight: Flower Pigments: use paper chromatography to examine what makes up the "colors" of different flowers. Are all red flowers the same? Put it to the test!
- Colorful Carnations: Hands-on with Capillary Function: use colored water to experiment with the capillary function of flowers and turn white flowers into your own colorful creations!
- Home Science Activity Spotlight: Crystal Chemistry: growing crystals is always a recipe for family fun and many oohs and aahs. But what is the secret to growing the best and biggest crystals? Investigate to find out what it takes to grow big ones!
- Home Science Activity Spotlight: Tie Dye: tie dye is a summertime classic. Understanding the science behind the process can help you get the brightest results. Experiment to find the best formula for stunning tie dye and wear your results!
- Making Room for Math: from books to dice and card games, it can be easier than you think to infuse summer days with hands-on and real-world math. Before you throw out that next juice box, take a look at the math concepts you can reinforce and encourage your kids to investigate!