Tag Archives: science activities for kids

Share It! Science and Growing with Science are pleased to announce we are teaming up for a week long Children's Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) Festival. Please join us for information and project ideas to help your family explore STEAM-related activities for the summer and beyond.

Today we are highlighting art with a STEM focus. Sarah at Share It! Science has an awesome description of activities for a Family STEAM Night: Where Art Meets Science. Here at Growing with Science we are going to investigate string theory using art.

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Whether art should be included with STEM (making the acronym STEAM) is not universally accepted. STEM advocates argue that the STEM acronym was conceived to promote the subjects that needed an extra push. STEAM backers say including art might draw some reluctant students to STEM through the back door, as well as create more well-rounded citizens.

The fact is, many scientists are interested in art and if they are not actively using art for their careers, probably have art-related hobbies. At the same time, many artists are using STEM to create innovative new techniques. The two have never been mutually exclusive and the  boundaries may be blurrier than ever.

Some obvious places art and STEM overlap:

  • Scientific illustration
  • The maker movement
  • Archeology
  • Architecture
  • Industrial design
  • Web design

Art also helps students explore abstract constructs in more concrete ways. Let's look at an example.

Exploring String Theory

String theory (or superstring theory) is the complex and abstract idea from quantum mechanics that ridiculously tiny strands of energy or "strings" vibrate to create all the particles and forces in the universe(s). And, by the way, they are vibrating in 11 dimensions.

Got that? If not, Brian Greene has a TED talk called Making Sense of String Theory that might help.

String Theory for Kids

Who better to explain string theory to kids than another kid? Shaun-Michael Diem-Lane, who was eleven when he made this video, has obviously been thinking about string theory a lot. Watch how he uses concrete examples and art to make his explanation easier to understand.

 

(Note: There might be a wee bit of confusion between energy and matter in the video).

Creating String Theory Art

Painting with rubber bands is one way to think about the energy and chaos of string theory.

1. Rubber band paint brush

Gather:

  • Rubber bands of different sizes
  • Pencil or paint brush to serve as a handle.
  • Acrylic paint
  • Small, shallow bowls or plates to hold paint
  • Paper

(Affiliate link)

Using a pencil or paint brush as a handle, gather a few rubber bands into a bundle. Hold them against the pencil and fasten using another rubber band wrapped around, creating a "mop" of rubber bands. Help of an adult may be required for this step.

rubber-band-paint-brush-07

Pour the paint into a shallow bowl or plate. Dip the rubber bands in the acrylic paint and then apply to paper. Experiment with different techniques, such as dragging the rubber bands across the paper, hopping the paint brush with the rubber bands down, etc. Then try different colors.

2. Rubber band launching device

Ever launch a rubber band using your finger?

Figure out a device to launch rubber bands at paper taped or fixed to a wall. Dip different-sized rubber bands in different colors of acrylic paint and launch them at the paper for a random effect.

sting-theory-rubberband-art02

Having trouble thinking up ideas? Mars Needs Rubber is a physics experiment that evaluates one rubber band launching method (direct .pdf link)

Other STEM and Art Resources to give you some ideas:

 

Did you like our merging of science and art? Would you like to see more posts like this? Just let us know. 

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Disclosures: The book above was from our local library. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

___________________________________
STEAM-festival-button-latest

Our activity schedule is as follows:

June 22: Science
Growing with Science: Science activities for Kids
Share it! Science: Are You a Scientist?

June 23: Technology
Growing with Science: Technology for Kids
Share it! Science: Exploring Kid's Opportunities in Technology

June 24: Engineering
Growing with Science: Engineering Activities for Kids
Share it! Science: Rube Goldberg Machines- an Engineering Challenge

June 25: Art with a STEM focus
Growing with Science: this post
Share it! Science: Family STEAM Night- Where Art Meets Science!

June 26:  Math
Growing with Science: New math books for kids
Share It! Science: The Golden Ratio in the Garden

We would love to hear your questions or suggestions for STEAM-related projects to share with others. Let's heat up the summer with STEAM!

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Share It! Science and Growing with Science are pleased to announce we are teaming up for a week long Children's Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) Festival. Please join us for information and project ideas to help your family explore STEAM-related activities for the summer and beyond.

Today we are highlighting science.  Sarah at Share It Science asks "What is a Scientist?" and walks through a guided experiment using dancing raisins. Here we are also discussing the scientific method, with suggestions on how to develop experiments using plants.

What is the scientific method?

Are you familiar with the vocabulary of the scientific method? Do you know the following terms as they are used in science?

  • Observation
  • Question
  • Hypothesis
  • Research
  • Test
  • Experiment
  • Conclusions

If not, you might want to start with the following resources.

If you have children ages 6 - 9 years, you definitely will want to consider picking up the new picture book Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rocklif and illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. The author captures a moment in history and reveals how Ben Franklin tested a peculiar case involving man in France who claimed he could cure people of illnesses by waving a wand. The author introduces young readers to the scientific method and to the placebo effect with concrete examples (for a full review of the book, see our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil). Excellent book!

(Affiliate link)

For older children, you can brush up on the scientific method at the Growing With Science website, where we discuss the process and give an example of experimental design for you to assess.

Now, let's put the scientific method to work.

The great thing about the scientific method is that you can apply it to almost any question about the natural world. Today we're going to apply it to questions about plants.

1. Root Viewer Experiments

Objective:
It is possible to buy commercial root viewers, which have clear sides to allow viewing of a growing plant’s roots over time. However, they can be expensive. Design your own root viewer from recycled clear containers and then perform experiments in them.

root-viewer

Materials:

  • Seeds such as bean seeds, popcorn, radishes
  • Clear plastic containers such as cookie tubs, bottles, plastic cups, packaging, even CD cases…
  • Potting soil and/or paper towels
  • Water
  • Paper and pencil to draw design and record results
  • Ruler

Procedures
Go through the recycling bin and look for clear container that might make a root viewer. It should be at least four inches deep to allow the roots to grow properly. If it isn't an ideal shape, think of a way to modify it.

How will you hold the seeds in place? You might want to try either wet paper towels or moist potting soil, depending on the size of the container. If you are using soil, either punch some drainage holes in the bottom or cover the bottom with a layer of pebbles for drainage. Then fill about 3/4 with soil. Place several different kinds of seeds against the inner walls. (If you are in a hurry, you could try planting sprouts.) Cover the seeds with about 1/8 inch soil. Water as needed to keep moist, but not too wet.

Now is an opportunity to make some observations. Can you see the roots growing? What do the roots look like? Do they have colors? Do they have hairs?

barley-root-hairs

Which kinds of seeds started growing roots first?  Measure the roots every day and graph root length over time. Do the roots grow the same amount every day? Do the roots of some plants grow faster than others? Do the roots of different kinds of plants grow into different shapes? For example, do some grow straight down, or do they branch like a tree? Do some roots look like a mop when they grow?

Once you have perfected your containers, it might be time to do some more advanced studies. Using only one kind of seed, what happens if you cover the bottom of container so the roots are in darkness versus are exposed to light? What happens if you gently turn the container on its side once the roots have started? Do the roots continue growing in the same direction or do they resume growing down?

If you try these experiments and choose to do so, we would like to hear your results.

Do you have any suggestions for other studies you could try with a root viewer?

2. What Do Plants Need to Grow?

Gather:

  • Milk cartons or other similar containers, or small pots
  • Potting soil
  • Water
  • Seeds like beans, popcorn, or radishes
  • Scissors
  • Paper and pencil
  • Ruler
  • Permanent pen such as a Sharpie

Explore:
Think about what plants may need to grow and then design an experiment to test some of your ideas. Check the Growing with Science website for information about the scientific method and how to design an experiment.

For example, does the amount of water matter?  You might try watering some plants with 1 cup of water, watering others with only 1/4 cup of water, and give others no water at all.

Do plants really need light? You could keep some plants in the dark by covering them with a cardboard box and keep some in the light. You could also compare growing plants under different kinds of light bulbs.

What about fresh air? Could you put some of the plants in tightly sealed plastic bags to see if they need fresh air?

Can you leave out the soil? Can you grow plants in a kitchen sponge or wad of moist paper towels instead of soil? Compare how much they grow to plants grown in soil.

You can also investigate how many seeds to plant in each container. Do plants grow better alone, with a few other plants, or with a lot of other plants?

Write down your experiment. What is the question you want to ask and what is your hypothesis (tentative answer). Also, figure out how many containers you will need.

If you are using milk cartons, cut off the tops with scissors. Poke a few drain holes in the bottom. If you want, you can do an experiment where you leave drain holes out of some of the containers to see if you really need drain holes.

Important: Label each container with the permanent marker so you can remember which treatment it is.

Fill the cartons with the soil or growing medium you have chosen. Plant the seeds. Water those you have chosen to receive water. Cover the ones that are to be dark, wrap in plastic those that are not going to get fresh air. Check every other day to add water as necessary and record your results by measuring the height of each plant. Which plants grew best? What conditions do plants need for proper growth?

Can you think of any other variables to test? What about hot versus cold temperatures? What about giving some plants fertilizer and other none? Carry out your experiment and record the results. Write up your experiment and share it with others.

bean-seed-growing

Resources for learning more about science:

______________________________

Disclosures: The book above was from our local library. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

___________________________________
STEAM-festival-button-latest

Our activity schedule is as follows:

Today:  Science
Growing with Science: this post
Share it! Science: Are You a Scientist?

June 23:  Technology
Growing with Science: Technology for Kids
Share it! Science: Exploring Kid's Opportunities in Technology

June 24: Engineering
Growing with Science: Engineering Activities for Kids
Share it! Science: Rube Goldberg Machines- an Engineering Challenge

June 25:  Art with a STEM focus
Growing with Science: Art Activities for Kids with a STEM Focus
Share it! Science: Family STEAM Night- Where Art Meets Science!

June 26:  Math
Growing with Science: New math books for kids
Share It! Science: The Golden Ratio in the Garden

We would love to hear your questions or suggestions for STEAM-related projects to share with others. Let's heat up the summer with STEAM!

Share It! Science and Growing with Science are thrilled to announce we are teaming up for a week long Children's Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) Festival all next week. Please join us for information and project ideas to help you explore STEAM-related activities for the summer and beyond!

STEAM-festival-button-latest

Our STEAM activity schedule is as follows:

June 22:  Science
June 23:  Technology
June 24:  Engineering
June 25:  Art with a STEM focus
June 26:  Math

We would love to hear your questions or suggestions for STEAM-related projects to share with others. If you choose to, please leave your ideas in the comments and we'll add the links to the appropriate days.

Let's heat up the summer with STEAM!