Category: Homeschool

5 Fun Science Experiments Kids Do at Home

Getting ready for extra time with kids? Here are five great ideas that are energizing and motivating:

5 Fun Science Experiments Kids Can Do at Home

All children are born scientists. Until education – or spoilsport parents – ruins them.

Kids have a natural curiosity that is insatiable due to their innate ability to get to the bottom of anything they set their minds on. Be it blowing soap bubbles or building towers of spaghetti, they are second only to seasoned engineers and CEOs at getting results.

However, over the past few months, kids have largely been cooped up at home due to the impact of COVID-19; the lack of access to a tried-and-true schooling process and resources will result in young children missing out on foundational concepts in literature, math and science that prepare them for a lifetime of learning and working.

Virtual schooling is clearly not an effective solution, according to a study done by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), which looked at schools specifically designed to teach coursework online with significant budgets invested in research and planning. “If they can’t make it work, it seems unlikely that parents and teachers Googling resources will do any better,” said Eric Hanushek, economist and education researcher at Stanford.

Well, don’t let that deter you. As a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) learning advocate for kids, I can’t understate the importance of teaching simple scientific and number concepts at home, because science isn’t something you learn only in a classroom. Research shows that kids as young as pre-school or kindergarten age have divergent thinking capabilities. Trying out simple experiments with things found in and around the house can improve their critical reasoning as well as spatial skills, and promote a curiosity-mindset that they’ll carry well into adulthood.

So, here are some fun activities and easy DIY projects to get your kids excited about science. Before you let them dive right in, please make sure all experiments are done under adult supervision.

1 Naked Egg

Let’s start with a simple one. Eggs are one of the favorite props in many kiddies’ experiments (and recipes).

What you’ll need:

  • 2 eggs
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • 2 glasses

How to do it:

  1. Fill one glass – a little more than half – with vinegar and the other with water.
  2. Dip one egg in each until the eggs are completely submerged.
  3. Let them soak for 24 hours and remove them the next day.

What happens:

As time passes, you’ll see bubbles form on the surface of the vinegar egg. At the end of 24 hours, you’ll find that the egg that was in the vinegar completely loses its shell and becomes “naked.” It’ll also be significantly larger in size than the one you kept in water.

The science behind it:

This demonstrates a principle called “osmosis.” The vinegar is made up of two parts: acetic acid and water. The acetic acid reacted with the eggshell and dissolved it. The water traveled through the egg’s membrane in such a way that the concentration of water on both sides of the membrane becomes equal. This “flow” is called osmosis.

Great link:

https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/growing-and-shrinking-egg/

2 Diet Coke Eruption

Warning: This might make your clothes and/or your kitchen messy. So try this outdoors.

What you’ll need:

  • A packet of Mentos
  • A large bottle of Diet Coke (Soda or any carbonated drink will do as a substitute)
  • A test tube or paper roll to hold the Mentos loosely
  • A small paper card

How to do it:

  1. Go out on the yard or the garden and select a place where there isn’t much of anything around for 6 to 8 feet. Place the Diet Coke on a table or on the ground.
  2. Stack 7 Mentos just like they are in the packing, but in a way they can fall out easily. Use a paper roll or test tube.
  3. Open the Diet Coke slowly so that it doesn’t fizz out.
  4. Cover the test tube with a little paper card and invert it over the mouth of the bottle.
  5. Pull out the paper card, letting the Mentos fall into the bottle quickly.
  6. Move back quickly from the bottle without turning your back to it (or else you’ll miss the sight).

What happens:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlSMNQ5K51

The Diet Coke blasts up in a sky high – okay, not-so-high – explosion. But it’s a veritable fountain of the sticky stuff.

The science behind it:

The carbon dioxide (CO2) in the soda is what makes it bubbly. It’s mixed into the fizzy drink when they make it at the factory. Diet Coke rises higher probably because of some of its ingredients, and it is less sticky because of whatever sugar substitute it uses.

Now, the CO2 isn’t released from the drink until you pour it, or shake the bottle, or let it lie for a lot of days. It’s just waiting – raring, rather – to escape in the form of bubbles. Shaking the bottle or dropping something into it breaks the surface tension of the liquid and allows bubbles to form on the surface. Mentos have very tiny pits on them like a golf ball, which means the surface area increases dramatically, making space for a real lot of bubbles to form.

Experiments have proved that 7 to 8 pieces of Mentos are good enough. The world record height of the blast is about 29 feet.

3 Double Color Flower

Magic happens when you combine science and art. The super-creative overlap between STEM and the arts is known as STEAM. Here’s an experiment that falls into this category.

What you’ll need:

  • A couple of flowers (preferably white) with a clean and thin but sturdy stem.
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • 2 glasses or vases
  • A knife

How to do it:

  1. Get a couple of flowers. White flowers such as carnations work best because the color change happens quickly, but you can get daisies, roses or any moderately big flower you can find.
  2. Fill the glasses with clean water. Add different food coloring to each. Make the colors strong. We use food coloring instead of paint so that the plants get non-toxic water.
  3. Grown-up help alert! Slit the stem vertically from the bottom in two equal parts the roughly length of the glasses.
  4. Part the stem carefully and place one half each into the two glasses.
  5. Place the split flower and glasses in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

What happens:

You will start to see the flower change color in a few hours. It might take anywhere from a day to three for a significant difference in color, depending on the flower you choose, the weather, and the place where you keep it.

The science behind it:

The stem of a plant has tube-like transport tissues called xylem. The water is sucked up the stem and moves to the leaves and flowers, from where it evaporates via little openings called stomata. The evaporation creates pressure for more water to be sucked up through the stem, pretty much like drinking water with a straw. The whole process is called transpiration. The speed of transpiration depends on the temperature, wind, light and humidity.

Great links:

https://redtri.com/simple-science-experiments-with-5-supplies-or-less/slide/4

Science Experiments with Water

Science Activities with Plants

4 Extra Strong Paper Cups

There are loads of things we take for granted in everyday life. The most unassuming of objects can prove otherwise.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 dozen paper cups
  • 2 sheets of strong cardboard

How to do it:

  1. Place 2 cups inverted on the floor side by side. Stand with one leg on each and see them get crushed. Just for the fun of it.
  2. Arrange 12 cups inverted and evenly spaced out in a grid of 4 x 3 on the floor.
  3. Place a cardboard sheet on top of the grid.
  4. Kids only please! Gingerly stand on top of the cardboard sheet.
  5. If it doesn’t break, place another layer of cups and the second cardboard sheet over this layer. Step up on top!

What happens:

The paper cup structure holds up. Likely, the structure with two floors holds up just as well.

What happens:

When you place many cups side by side, your weight is distributed across all of them by the cardboard sheet. Each cup has to bear just a fraction of your weight. The minimum number of cups needed to support your weight depends on the size and quality of the cups and, well, your weight.

Great link:

https://www.science-sparks.com/how-can-you-stand-on-a-paper-cup-without-breaking-it/

5 Oobleck

What state is toothpaste or jelly – solid or liquid? Turns out, they’re colloids. Oobleck is

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups corn starch
  • 1 cup water
  • Food coloring

How to do it:

  1. Take water in a bowl.
  2. Add the food color.
  3. Add 1.5 cups corn starch to it. Mix with a spoon at first.
  4. Slowly add the rest of the corn starch. As the consistency of the mixture strengthens, knead with your hands.

What happens:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nw8KaHglokQ

You get a gooey, slimy mixture that was termed “Oobleck” in the Dr. Seuss book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. When you knead the mixture or tap its surface, it feels hard. But when you dip your hand inside slowly, your fingers slide through it as if it’s water. This is exactly how quicksand works.

The science behind it:

Oobleck is a “non-Newtonian” fluid – it acts like a liquid when it’s being poured (this property is called viscosity) and like a solid when a force (in this case, pressure) is acting on it. Some of its properties:

  • When you roll Oobleck into a ball, it solidifies. But when you stop moving it, it melts back in your hand.
  • It is messy but can be washed away completely with soap and hot water.
  • When left in the open for too long, it hardens and turns back into cornstarch.
  • It isn’t poisonous, but tastes awful.
  • Make enough Oobleck in a large tub or bin and you can walk on it.

Over to You

What do you think of these experiments? Which ones are you going to try right away?

While parents certainly can’t match the school’s resources and expertise in imparting science and technology education to eager little minds, there’s quite a bit we can do to grow the next Einstein (or Musk) at home. If you have a bit of extra space and a stuff lying around, why not try and build a science lab at home for the budding genius?

AUTHOR BIO:

Shreiya Aggarwal-Gupta is the owner of the early education startup Kidpillar, which aims to provide developmental opportunities and resources for young children in the field of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) via kid-friendly journals, practical DIY-kits, and simple project-based learnings and workshops. Shreiya is also a passionate blogger, computer science engineer, finance whiz, and “perfect mommy” to her son.

@KidPillar

–Comments are closed but feel free to contact Shreiya @KidPillar and me @askatechteacher via Twitter.

More science

In Love with Space? Here are Great Websites to Take You There

Ward’s Science–So Many STEM Resources

PASCO Motion Sensor–A Must for Science Classes


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

alternative education

Tech Ed Resources for your Homeschool

Homeschool TechI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: Tech resources for the Homeschool Class

Besides the availability of any of the tech ed resources at Structured Learning, here are two kits designed especially for homeschools:

Homeschool Survival Kit

This is exclusively for homeschoolers–a technology curriculum for K-5. With this Homeschool Survival Kit, you get all the tech ed resources you need to integrate technology into your child’s learning, lesson plans, inquiry, and curriculum requirements. Included (click links for more information):
..

Two of the 6-volume K-5 Tech Curriculum

xx
Two years of the K-5 Technology Curriculum. This will be your curriculum map, showing you what tech to teach your children when they are ready for it. It blends skills into class studies for authentic learning. Click for more information on each ebook. When you purchase, tell us which two books you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
..
Note: These teacher textbooks can be replaced with student workbooks. Click for more information on student workbooks. If you choose this option, tell us which student workbooks you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
,,
K-8 digital citizenship curriculum map—what to introduce when to teach students to navigate the complexities of the internet safely, securely, and effectively. Includes 3-8 projects per grade-level, accomplished in a few minutes a day or a full class period. If students are using the internet, they must know how to use it correctly, safely, and efficiently. This curriculum shows you what to teach at what age. Projects can be tied into other classroom projects–just add detail about digital citizenship.
..

110 K-8 Lesson Plans

2-volume collection of lesson plans (Volume I and Volume II) organized by subject, digital tool, and academic topic. 

169 Real-World Ways to Put Tech into Your Class

xx
One-volume curation of the most common tech problems and issues your child–and you–face using technology for education. Be ready!

..

16 Holiday Projects

xx
16 fun and festive holiday projects. Create gifts for family and friends while learning important tech skills. Use for any holiday. They’ll fill your year with pictures, calendars, wallpaper, cards, that kids will love making and want to give to family as gifts.
..

(more…)

Helping My Daughters Prepare for the ACT Exams

A few months ago, Jane Sandwood sent me a nice note. She’s a a freelance writer, editor and former tutor, homeschooler, and mother of two teenage daughters. She’d read my articles about preparing for SAT/ACTs and had a story of her own detailing how she helped her children prepare for their ACT. I think you’ll enjoy her experiences! 

As spring approaches, my eldest daughter Katherine, now in her junior year, is bracing herself for the upcoming ACT exams, while my youngest, Elizabeth, a sophomore, is getting ready for next year. I am a former tutor and for almost 10 years, I helped students prepare for both SATs and ACTs, relying heavily on tech tools and games to keep them motivated. Somehow, even students who needed the most help weren’t quite as challenging as my own daughters, and the lines between tutor and mom were often blurred, as is to be expected.

Different Learning Styles

Katherine and Elizabeth are just about as different as two people can be when it comes to their attitudes about school and their interests. Katherine, who wishes to be an actor, always took to her studies almost instinctively, since she was a child. She took great pride in handing in her homework neatly, took great pains to finish all her tasks, and was more of a rote learner than Elizabeth, who is more into writing, and who always took a more critical, analytical approach to her studies.

Elizabeth is naturally bright and quick, and has an enviable memory. She has always loved reading and has amassed quite a collection on her Kindle, yet is reticent to complete homework and has always had a strong aversion to maths. Because things tend to come easier to her, she is easily bored and far less disciplined than Kathy when it comes to homework and creating a study strategy. She also struggles with time management, often getting lost in a book or musical album and arriving to school without having completed home tasks.

(more…)

zapzapmath

Zapzapmath adds multiplayer option and more to their popular app

zapzapmathZapzapmath is a free gamified ecosystem that teaches math skills aligned with many national and international standards.  Its format is engaging, music lively, and layout colorful. The over 180 games spanning 900 difficulty levels are fast-paced and interactive and cover over 180 math topics. Zapzapmath has been awarded a plethora of education accolades and is ranked in the top 10 of the education category in 58 countries including the US and China.No surprise when you look at all the topics included in this robust app:
 xx
– Addition
– Angles
– Coordinates
– Fractions
– Geometry
– Measurements
– Multiplication
– Pre-school Math
– Ratio
– Subtraction
– Time

Now, Zapzapmath has made the experience even better with a long list of enhancements, in-game improvements, and an even greater variety of features.  These are designed for all types of players from those who play at school to students who log on at a homeschool or through a family account. This is perfect for the many different ways students learn math, the wide variety of digital devices being used, and gives a nod toward the lifelong learner who is as likely to play math games because they love learning as that it’s part of teacher-directed activities.

(more…)

wittywe

What is WittyWe and Why You Want to Use it

wittywe

There seems to be a limitless supply of online education content. In fact, my email box and social media explodes with them. But often, these offerings are too basic, a lite version of a paid program that isn’t terribly robust, confusing, or created by people who don’t really understand how to blend technology and education. As a busy teacher, I want resources that are clear, easy-to-use, accessible by all types of students, scalable, and fun.

I found that.

Understand, finding a reliable source is a big deal to me. I give potential new sites the seven-second test: If I’m not engaged and excited in seven seconds, I move on. If I have to work too hard to figure out how to use it, I move on. If it requires more than three clicks to access content, I move on.

WittyWe had none of these problems.

WittyWe is a K-9 learning environment that inspires students to become passionate about meaningful learning through engaging video content. Using techniques such as storytelling, resolving real-life cases, learning through play, and self-teaching, WittyWe covers academic topics such as science, social studies, law, economics, entrepreneurship, and engineering as well as life skills like time management, learning, money management, social awareness, healthy living, goal-setting, and leadership. The videos are arranged as themes, online courses, and/or guided suggestions through Ask the Professor. In this last option, students tell the Professor what they’re interested in by theme, grade, and difficulty level, and he suggests appropriate videos.

(more…)

Tech Ed Resources for your Homeschool Class

Homeschool TechI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: Tech resources for the Homeschool Class

Besides the availability of any of the tech ed resources at Structured Learning, there are two kits designed especially for the home school:

Homeschool Survival Kit

This is exclusively for homeschoolers–a technology curriculum for K-5. With this Homeschool Survival Kit, you get all the tech ed resources you need to integrate technology into your child’s learning, lesson plans, inquiry, and curriculum requirements. Included (click links for more information):
..
Two years of the K-5 Technology Curriculum. This will be your curriculum map, showing you what tech to teach your children when they are ready for it. Blends skills into class studies for authentic learning. Click here for more information on each ebook. When you purchase, tell us which two books you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
..
Note: These teacher textbooks can be replaced with two student workbooks. Click for more information on student workbooks. If you choose this option, tell us which two student workbooks you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
,,
K-8 digital citizenship curriculum map—what do you introduce when to teach students to navigate the complexities of the internet safely, securely, and effectively. Includes 3-8 projects per grade-level, accomplished in a few minutes a day or a full class period. If students are using the internet, they must know how to use it correctly, safely, and efficiently. This curriculum shows you what to teach at what age. Projects can be tied into other classroom projects–just add detail about digital citizenship.
..
2-volume collection of lesson plans (Volume I and Volume II) organized by subject, digital tool, and academic topic. 
One-volume collation of the most common tech problems and issues your child–and you–face using technology for education. Be ready!
..
16 fun and festive holiday projects. Create gifts for family and friends while learning important tech skills. Use for any holiday. They’ll fill your year with pictures, calendars, wallpaper, cards, that kids will love making and want to give to family as gifts.
..
Over 64 webinars spread throughout the school year–32 per each of the two grade levels you select. Designed for the adult to help them teach important tech skills to children. The digital classroom provides an opportunity to ask questions of other members or the moderator any time s/he needs a little extra help with.

(more…)

homeschool

3 Technology Benefits for Homeschoolers

homeschoolOne of the wonderful Ask a Tech Teacher contributers, Jenny Wise, is a busy homeschooler who suggested I publish an article about the benefits of technology for the homeschooler. I asked Jenny if she would share how she came to homeschool her children, how technology contributes to her success, and then share resources. Here are her thoughts:

At one time, homeschooling was a religious or moral choice made by families that wanted to guide the education of their children more carefully than a public school system would. Today, millions of families choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons, ranging from protecting their children from bullying and violence to avoiding the standardized testing that permeates public schools. Homeschool curricula have greatly improved over the past few years, and new technologies are making it easier for families that homeschool their children but don’t have education degrees themselves. These technologies are helping students achieve academic and social success while meeting the needs of various learning styles.

  1. Experiencing Proven Curricula and Support

Some parents would love to homeschool their children but just don’t feel confident in their ability to deliver a sound education that will help their children develop the skills and knowledge they need to attend college and become successful adults. Thanks to online homeschooling programs and accredited curricula like the one offered by Calvert, parents can access the tools and support they need to deliver top-notch education to their children at home.

(more…)

alternative education

Tech Ed Resources for your Homeschool Class

Homeschool TechI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: Tech resources for the Homeschool Class

Besides the availability of any of the tech ed resources at Structured Learning, there are two kits designed especially for the home school:

Homeschool Survival Kit

This is exclusively for homeschoolers,–a technology curriculum for K-5. With thisHomeschool Survival Kit, you get all the tech ed resources you need to integrate technology into your child’s learning, lesson plans, inquiry, and curriculum requirements. Included (click links for more information):
..
Two years of the K-5 Technology Curriculum. This will be your curriculum map, showing you what tech to teach your children when they are ready for it. Blends skills into class studies for authentic learning. Click here for more information on each ebook. When you purchase, tell us which two books you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
..
Note: These teacher textbooks can be replaced with two student workbooks. Click for more information on student workbooks. If you choose this option, tell us which two student workbooks you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
K-8 digital citizenship curriculum map—what do you introduce when to teach students to navigate the complexities of the internet safely, securely, and effectively. Includes 3-8 projects per grade-level, accomplished in a few minutes a day or a full class period. If students are using the internet, they must know how to use it correctly, safely, and efficiently. This curriculum shows you what to teach at what age. Projects can be tied into other classroom projects–just add detail about digital citizenship.
..
2-volume collection of lesson plans (Volume I and Volume II) organized by subject, digital tool, and academic topic. 
One-volume collation of the most common tech problems and issues your child–and you–face using technology for education. Be ready!
..
16 fun and festive holiday projects. Create gifts for family and friends while learning important tech skills. Use for any holiday. They’ll fill your year with pictures, calendars, wallpaper, cards, that kids will love making and want to give to family as gifts.
..
Over 64 webinars spread throughout the school year–32 per each of the two grade levels you select. Designed for the adult to help them teach important tech skills to children. The digital classroom provides an opportunity to ask questions of other members or the moderator any time s/he needs a little extra help with.

(more…)

macros

Playful Learning–What a Great Idea

playPlayful Learning (Parents’ Choice Gold Medal website) is a well-done, professional-looking website that  offers advice, projects, and visual images touting the benefits of education through play. The reader is drawn into the child-centered imagery and strong basic colors, wanting everything on offer so their child’s play areas can look and work as described.

Let’s back up a moment. Play as the vehicle of education is not a revolutionary idea. Pedagogy has long recommended ‘play’ as a superior teacher for youngers–

Play is the great synthesizing, integrating, and developing force in childhood and adolescence. –PsycINFO Database Record 2012 APA,

The play of children is not recreation; it means earnest work. Play is the purest intellectual production of the human being, in this stage … for the whole man is visible in them, in his finest capacities, in his innermost being.~ Friedrich Froebel

In general, research shows strong links between creative play and language, physical, cognitive, and social development. Play is a healthy, essential part of childhood. —Department of Education, Newfoundland Labrador

Young children learn the most important things not by being told but by constructing knowledge for themselves in interaction with the physical world and with other children – and the way they do this is by playing.” –Jones, E., & Reynolds, G.  “The play’s the thing: Teachers’ roles in children’s play”

(more…)

Keyboarding and the Homeschooler

keyboardingHere’s another great article from Catherine Ross on homeschooling and keyboard skills. Catherine Ross is a full-time stay-at-home-mum who believes learning should be enjoyable for young minds. An erstwhile elementary school teacher, Catherine loves coming up with creative ways through which kids can grasp the seemingly difficult concepts of learning easily. She believes that a ‘fun factor’ can go a long way in enhancing kids’ understanding and blogs at http://kidslearninggames.weebly.com/

It is nothing short of a struggle to make my 8-year-old daughter sit down at her desk and write a couple of lines at a stretch, without getting up a dozen times in between.But ask her to type out the lines on the computer and she’s happily done with it in less than half the time!

There’s something about ‘working’ on a computer which appeals to all kids; they just don’t seem to comprehend the fact that studies can be related to a computer as well. And this is something I realized early on when I took up homeschooling full-time. If I could use this to my advantage and incorporate some constructive online ‘computer-time’ into my kids’ curriculum, it would probably do them good in the long run and they would enjoy it too.

(more…)