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Strange but True: Summer of STEM (Week 8)

Join Science Buddies this summer for virtual summer camp! Each week, we'll have a fun STEM theme for kids of all ages, suggestions for simple hands-on activities, book picks, and more. With our Summer of STEM, we'll keep you and your kids inspired all summer with creative and innovative science and engineering activities — for free. This week: 15 interesting and exciting explorations in the category of "strange but true" science.

Silly curvy, tall straw image to represent the Strange But True science theme for Week 8 of Summer of STEM with Science Buddies

Strange but True Science

If you and your family have ever watched MythBusters, you know that there are all kinds of science claims that sound amazing but, when put to the test, don't stand up as scientifically true. The MythBusters team (led by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman) always took experiments to the max to really push at the borders of what is and isn't possible or what does or doesn't work. With more than 290 episodes, the MythBusters team entertained viewers for years. That was TV, and you had a team of STEM-savvy hosts to guide you through the science behind what you were seeing. Unfortunately, not all the cool science you see or hear about online is real.

Curiosity is awesome. Science projects even start with scientists asking questions about how things work or why things work a certain way. We all have questions about what will or won't work, and putting our questions to the test with a science or engineering experiment is a great way to learn by doing and observing. Curiosity can even drive invention and innovation. But it's easy to find science activities that look super cool in a video and yet don't work when you try them at home. It can be really disappointing when that happens. (Did your kids ever try to make a Mt. Dew glow stick or create a volcano with Cheetos® and Tic Tacs® based on memes or videos they saw online?)

This week, we have 15 cool activities from our scientists that we know work. With these simple science and engineering activities, kids can see "strange but true" science in action!

Tip: This downloadable PDF contains a summary of the ideas for Week 8. 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 8

Use these questions to prompt conversation and reflection this week about the science behind the "strange but true" science activities:

  • When you look at the list of possible activities this week, which one sounds most intriguing to you? Why?
  • What are the steps a scientist takes to help test and answer a question? (Hint: learn about the scientific method.)
  • How does asking a question and then doing an experiment fit into the scientific method?
  • Which science or engineering activity did you try? What did you learn?
  • What kinds of science (for example, chemistry or physics) helped explain the activity you did?
  • What kinds of STEM jobs are related to the Strange but True science activities you explored this week?

DO & EXPLORE: Strange but True Science Activities

  1. Can you drink from a straw that's 3-feet tall?: Build your own super tall straw and put this question to the test with the A Really Long Straw activity. How tall of a straw can your kids successfully use?
  2. Is an empty bottle really empty?: In the How Empty Is an Empty Bottle? activity, kids can see for themselves with a small paper ball and an empty bottle. How easy is it to blow the paper inside?
  3. Can a flame jump between a lit and unlit candle?: With the Make a Candle Flame Jump activity, kids put the question to the test to find out what part of a candle really burns and whether or not wax vapors can cause candles to magically re-light.
  4. Can you pull apart two phone books that have been interleaved?: Kids can do their own scaled version of this surprising activity with sticky pads. Once they are interleaved, it's fun to have others test their strength and see if they can pull the pads apart.
  5. Could melting ice caps raise the sea level?: Use play dough and containers of water for the How Do Melting Polar Ice Caps Affect Sea Levels? activity to investigate how and why melting differs at the North and South Poles.
  6. Can you poke a stick in a balloon without popping the balloon?: In the Stretchy Balloon Science activity, kids explore the elasticity of balloons and find out where they can and can't poke a balloon and why.
  7. Can you turn a hard-boiled egg into a cube?: In the Shaping Hard-boiled Eggs activity, kids can try forming hard-boiled eggs in different shapes to make ordinary ovoid eggs into something totally different!
  8. Can you add too much sugar to a drink?: Try the Solubility Science: How Much is Too Much? activity to explore the science of saturation, dissolution, and solubility.
  9. Does beach sand dry out as you walk on it?: Try the Explore the Wet Sand Effect activity to investigate firsthand why footsteps in wet sand look dry!
  10. Can you turn milk into plastic?: Use the Turn Milk into Plastic chemistry activity to make milk plastic. While it's still warm, kids can mold it into small sculptures or beads.
  11. Can you poke holes in a bottle and have it not leak?: With the Holes That Do Not Leak! activity, kids can explore with a recycled plastic bottle. What's the trick to making water stay in or come out?
  12. Can you bake ice cream and have it stay frozen?: Use the Bake Your Ice Cream activity for a fun kitchen chemistry activity. You'll learn more about insulation and make a tasty treat, too!
  13. Do some candies create sparks?: Try the Candy Lightning: A Flashy Activity with Life Savers® Wint O Green® mints to see if you can detect light flashes when the candy is crushed.
  14. Does tonic water glow in the dark?: If you have a black light, kids can get their glow on with tonic water at home.
  15. Can a strand of hair lift a small object?: In the How Strong Is Your Hair? activity, kids put strands of hair to the test. How much weight can they hold?

TRY THIS: Hand Washing Challenge!

See Germs! Hand Washing Science Experiment

Is it true that the longer you wash your hands, the cleaner they will be? It takes a bit more than just washing "long enough," but the longer you wash, the more time you have to do a really good job. Paired with some review of recommended tips for hand washing and then some practice with water and washable paint, kids can build strong hand washing skills and make more effective hand washing a habit.

WATCH: Videos for Week 8

These videos demonstrate activities highlighted for Week 8's Strange but True Science theme:

Jumping Candle Flame Experiments – STEM activity
Mold Hard Boiled Eggs
How can air pressure prevent leaks?
Can you solve this air pressure puzzle?
How Strong Is Your Hair? – STEM Activity
Explore the Wet Sand Effect – STEM activity
Stretchy Balloons! Fun STEM Activity
Turn Milk Into Plastic!
Solubility Science – STEM Activity

These videos (and video channels) are not from Science Buddies but tie in with this week's theme:


Circuit of electrolyte challenge project in a dish with a green sports drink to measure electrolytes Crystal radio made from the Crystal Radio kit and decorated to personalize it Two potatoes as part of a circuit for the Veggie Power project

The following Science Buddies Kits fit in with this week's Strange but True Science theme. These science and engineering kits provide the specialty materials kids need for a variety of fun electronics explorations:

Can You Charge Your Phone with a Potato?

Learn more about Science Buddies Kits and see our 12 Science Kits for Summer Science Experiments and Discovery recommendations.

READ: Books to Pair with Week 8's Strange but True Science Theme

The Crayon Man cover Body Oddity Projects cover After the Fall cover Just like Rube Goldberg cover
We Don't Eat Our Classmates cover Bet You Didn't Know 2 cover The Bacteria Book cover Bet You Didn't Know cover

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

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