Wizards and Magic: Summer of STEM (Week 3)
Join Science Buddies this summer for virtual summer camp! Each week, we'll highlight fun STEM themes for kids of all ages, including suggestions for simple hands-on activities, book picks, and more. We'll keep you inspired all summer with creative and innovative science and engineering activities — for free. This week: wizard- and magic-themed science!
Wizards & Magic STEM
Week 3 brings out the wizard in all of us! If your kids are fans of stories about wizards and magic, from Merlin to Harry Potter, then this week's Summer of STEM lineup is sure to be a favorite. This week features a variety of fun, fizzing, bubbling, foaming, and mysterious hands-on science and engineering activities that you can tie in with favorite stories about wizards and magic. Maybe there are even mystical unicorns or medieval dragons and other fantastic beasts that make their way into this week's exploration and reading. With an engaging mix of chemistry, physics, electronics, and creative engineering activities, kids will have fun making things, mixing things, and generally practicing their awesome STEM wizardry. Wizard's robes are optional, but if your kids are Merlin fans, making or decorating a wizardly cape or robe might be a perfect add-on and a great way to inspire imaginative storytelling to go along with this week's theme!
Tip: This downloadable PDF contains a summary of the ideas for Week 3. Print this out and use it as a check-list for activities you try this week! You can also print and use our simple activity log (PDF) if you want to encourage your younger students to reflect on their activities.
ASK: Science Questions for Week 3
Use these questions to prompt conversation and reflection this week about the science behind wizard- and magic-themed science activities:
- In what ways do some science experiments seem like "magic"?
- What is the difference between science and something described as "magic"?
- Which science or engineering activity did you try? What did you learn?
- Was the activity you tried one that uses chemistry? Or was it an engineering activity in which you built or designed something? Or was it another kind of science experiment?
- What did you most enjoy about the activity you did? What would you like to try next?
- Before you start an experiment, it is a good idea to write down what you think will happen. What is this statement called? (Hint!)
- In some of this week's activities, changing the temperature or the ingredients makes a difference in what happens. What are these parts of an experiment called? (Hint!)
- What kinds of STEM jobs are related to the "magical" STEM activities you explored this week?
DO & EXPLORE: Wizard- and Magic-themed Activities
- Elephant Toothpaste: as part of their studies, young wizards practice mixing potions and casting spells! Poof! Things don't always go as planned, and you might think of this fun, foaming activity as one of those moments where a spell or mixture goes awry! You won't need any real toothpaste for this activity, but it is a lot of fun to plan the colors and watch this chemical reaction happen. (See how these kids thought about the colors they used.)
- Make a Lemon Volcano: this is another activity that might make you think something went wrong in potions class. Combining baking soda and citric acid makes for a fun, fizzing, bubbling volcano. Food coloring is optional!
- Secret Messages With Invisible Ink!: the ability to write and reveal secret messages can be a valuable wizarding skill. (You do have a notebook to keep your formulas, spells, and recipes, right?) There's no real magic in the secret ink activity, but the spice cabinet might have just what you need to create your own disappearing and reappearing ink!
- Turn Milk into Plastic: in wizarding terms, alchemy is the process of turning lead into gold. In this science activity, kids can turn milk into plastic. It may not be as sparkly as gold, but turning a cup of milk into a ball of plastic is a pretty cool chemistry-based example of a chemical reaction causing a transformation. Kids can use their milk plastic to make small sculptures or beads before the plastic hardens.
- Make a Candle Flame Jump: it isn't hard to imagine a wizarding scene in which you walk down a dark hallway, and one by one the candles light. The candles will have to be close together, but in this activity, you can watch the flame from one candle jump to re-light another candle, as if by magic!
- A Candle Seesaw Balancing Act: with candles an important source of light in ancient wizarding spaces, candles can also be a good way to practice simple spells. You won't be able to light the candles with a flick of a wand, but once lit, you can watch a mesmerizing see-saw between two lit candles as they effortlessly rise and fall. (When this family did this activity, they set some good safety guidelines for family experiments involving fire.)
- Make a Paper Circuit: whether your kids envision a special invitation, a map, or a piece of art, using copper tape, LEDs, and a coin cell battery is an exciting way to create something that "lights up" when the circuit is activated. We recommend making up a word for a spell that you can say when you close the circuit! (For extra inspiration, see how we lit up a small city scene!)
- Make an Alka-Seltzer Powered Lava Lamp: lava lamps can be enchanting with their floating blobs of color. An Alka-Seltzer®-powered lava lamp might be just the right decoration for an afternoon of wizardly fun or a wizard's feast! What color will you choose? (Keep in mind these "lamps" don't create light, but they are fun to watch. You might also set them on a flashlight, as shown in the video!)
- Build Your Own Sports Equipment: young wizards need a wand, and many wizards in stories carried a staff. Using the suggestions and ideas in this activity, kids can make their own wand or staff from recycled materials. This is a fun engineering-inspired activity that encourages kids to design and invent their own toy and is perfect for imaginative play.
- Make Your Drawings Float!: this creative activity definitely has magical flair. With a dry-erase marker and water, you can make a simple drawing magically lift from the surface and float! (Note: some colors of markers may work better than others for this activity, so young wizards may have to practice and experiment.)
- Stretchy Balloon Science: lots of magic tricks involve illusions. If you stick a wooden skewer into a balloon, it will pop, right? With a bit of science about a balloon's stretchiness, you can learn where to stick the skewer so that the balloon doesn't pop. This is a fun bit of wizardry to show your friends! (Be prepared with plenty of balloons though as you practice this trick!)
- Puzzle Fun with a Perimeter Magic Triangle: this math puzzle is a fun way to practice your skills. You'll need to make all sides add up properly to balance the magic triangle!
WATCH: Videos for Week 3
These videos demonstrate activities highlighted for Week 3's Wizards and Magic theme:
These videos are not from Science Buddies but tie in with this week's theme:
EXPLORE with KITS
The following Science Buddies Kits fit in with this week's Wizards and Magic theme. These science and engineering kits provide the specialty materials kids need for a variety of fun explorations, including robotics, computer programming, and electronics:
- Bath Bomb Science Kit: turn your bathtub into a fizzing cauldron of fun by creating your own bath bombs! Can you perfect your recipe for the fizziest ones? Hoard all the magic or give a few to friends!
- Spherification Kit: transform juice into jiggly balls that are still liquid on the inside. If you master the science of making juice balls, you can pick them up (carefully!) and eat them one by one, or you can add them to a cold beverage for tasty, juice-filled fun! What flavor will you try?
Learn more about Science Buddies Kits and see our 7 Science Kits for Summer Science Experiments and Discovery recommendations.
READ: Books to Pair with Week 3's Wizards and Magic Theme
- 30-Minute Chemistry Projects by Anna Leigh (Author)
- 30-Minute Edible Science Projects by Anna Leigh (Author)
- Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long
- Super Frozen Magic Forest by Matty Long
- Super Slug of Doom by Matty Long
- Sophie Johnson, Unicorn Expert by Morag Hood (Author), Ella Okstad (Illustrator)
- Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima
- Never Let A Unicorn Get Spots! by Diane Alber
- Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson (Author), Axel Scheffler (Illustrator)
- The Magic Hat Shop by Sonja Wimmer (Author, Illustrator), Jon Brokenbrow (Translator)
- Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7) by J. K. Rowling (Author), Mary GrandPrÉ (Illustrator)
- Harry Potter: The Illustrated Collection (Books 1-3 Boxed Set) by J.K. Rowling (Author), Jim Kay (Illustrator)
- Magic Tree House Merlin Missions
- Passage to Avalon (The Epic Adventures of the Techno Wizard, Volume 1) by Mike Thayer
- The Book of Wizard Magic: In Which the Apprentice Finds Marvelous Magic Tricks, Mystifying Illusions & Astonishing Tales
- The Book of Wizard Craft: In Which the Apprentice Finds Spells, Potions, Fantastic Tales & 50 Enchanting Things to Make
- Wizardology: The Book of the Secrets of Merlin by Master Merlin (Author), Dugald A. Steer (Editor)
- The Wizard's Wand (Geronimo Stilton #9) by Geronimo Stilton
- Christmas in Camelot (Magic Tree House Merlin Missions #1) by Mary Pope Osborne (Author), Sal Murdocca (Illustrator)
- The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell
For other great STEM stories for summer reading, see our Book list for science-filled summer reading! post. Also, don't miss this roundup of creative STEM activities for storytelling and imaginative play.
Summer of STEM Posts
- Week 1 - Carnival Science
- Week 2 - Gadgets & Gizmos
- Week 3 - Wizards & Magic
- Week 4 - Artists & Makers
- Week 5 - Fireworks & Picnics
- Week 6 - Water Play
- Week 7 - Superhero Science
- Week 8 - Strange but True Science
- Week 9 - Mission to Mars
- Week 10 - Backyard Science
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- High-flying STEM (Awesome Summer Science Experiments)
- Wizardly STEM! (Awesome Summer Science Experiments)