The world around your children is ripe for experimentation, and you can cultivate their awareness and natural curiosity by encouraging them to participate in science fairs. Whether they investigate the natural or man-made, children will not only learn how to ask and answer scientific questions but also discover more about how the elements of life work -- all in the space of a week.
Compare the Things You Use
Think of the large amount of items your elementary students use every day. From the food they eat to the video games they play, all of these things can become interesting subjects for experimentation. Set up comparison tests. Some questions to answer include: Which brand of batteries lasts longest? Can people discern between real fruit juice and fruit juice from concentrate? Does playing violent video games make it harder to fall sleep? Do plastic or fabric bandages adhere to skin longer? Depending on what you and your child decide to test, you could need anywhere from a few hours to a week, although short tests can be rerun on different days to verify the results.
Peek Into the Animal World
Children are generally fascinated by animals, as any parent who’s been begged for a dog can attest. Even if you don’t have a pet, however, there are plenty of ways to experiment with the animal world. Consider ants, caterpillars, birds, fish, snails and worms. Do they prefer certain foods to others? Does the color of the food matter? How does light or sound affect them? Can they be trained? These types of experiments easily can take a week to perform, since your student will need to study behavior over a length of time to get meaningful results. Just be sure that no creatures are harmed during experimentation.
Explore the Capabilities of Humans
Many human traits can be measured relatively quickly. For example, do boys have larger hands than girls? Other experiments, though, can be performed on a more in-depth and lengthier level. Your students could explore skill increases over a week by training to jump higher or holding their breath longer. Students also could study how eating various foods affects activities such as concentration or memory. For younger students you could study simpler questions, such as whether hair length or height changes a noticeable amount in a week.
Quench Curiosity With Water
It might get taken for granted, but water is more than a necessary part of life -- it also does some interesting things. Some areas of water study to consider include evaporation, purification, freezing point, boiling point and absorption. For example, you might test the rate at which water evaporates or ice melts during different times of day and night. You also could measure differences in pH or the rate at which crystals grow in different types of water (tap water versus distilled). Remember that experiments involving hot water will need to be carefully supervised.
About the Author
Melissa Harr is a writer and knitting pattern designer with a range of publication credits. Her latest work includes blogging for Smudge Yarns, judging fiction for Ink & Insights 2015 and creating patterns for I Like Knitting magazine. Harr holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a CELTA.
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