We will be posting educational science activities to do with children at home. No more, "I'm bored!" Keeping it Gross Out for you!
 
If you are overwhelmed with teaching your child, Fresh Air Family instructor, Dr. Matt Brown is available for help via virtual tutoring. Email: Programs@FreshAirFamily.org for more information. 

Two great eco-mystery books by Emmy-winning writer, Roger Reid, $15 each, $3 shipping. Order at the donate button above.

Or, just for fun, award-winning tall tales by Fresh Air Family founder, Verna Gates. 

$8 plus $3 shipping. Use donate button above to order

Make a Animal Maze

 

Objective: Engineering. Making a maze can be complex and challenging. We also throw in objects that get in the way, much like a large animal, like a bear, might have to deal with to get to a mate or food source. Or a deer that has to cross a high way. Campers learn the elements of design, along with the difficulties of fragmented habitat for animals.  It is important to select the right materials, test it with a marble, making a working design. 
 

 

What you’ll need to have on hand:

·      Paper plates

·      Various household supplies (cardboard, straws, cotton balls, string, etc)

·      Glue (we found tacky glue and hot glue worked best)

·      Scissors

·      Marbles

First, issue the challenge. The goal of this project is to get a maze made that fits a marble, contained inside a paper plate, that works completely, and doesn’t break when playing with it. Kids will have to use quite a few skills to get this design to work.

Roly Poly Races

 

Kids love a challenge! Roly polies, sometimes called pill bugs, are decomposers, and are more fun than most because of they roll up into a ball and are fun to watch. These little creatures are always fascinating to children, with their curled-up bodies. Explain to the campers that these are not bugs – they are isopod (marine invertebrates - animals without backbones) crustaceans, like crabs! They have more in common with lobsters and shrimp than with flies or beetles! Like most crustaceans (like the ones we eat) that live in or near water, roly polies need a damper habitat to protect their delicate gill-like breathing organs that are located on their underbellies. That is why they curl up – to protect their lungs! They have to keep these organs damp for them to work. Roly-polies prefer to live in humid, sheltered areas that are full of decaying vegetation. They will eat the decaying plants. That’s why you can always find them under logs and rocks or in piles of dead leaves. They eat decaying plants and animal waste; however, they will take a munch or two of a live plant as well. They live an average of two years. Armadillidiidae is the Latin species name of woodlice, terrestrial (Earth) crustaceans, which they belong to. Their hard shells do look like an armadillo’s, come to think of it.

Slime is always good, how about an Oobleck?

Children are universally intrigued by slime. Children can observe properties of solids vs. liquids while learning scientific methods by simply creating their own slime.

 

Materials: Cornstarch, Water, Bucket for mixing, Large spoon

 

Ask the kids to form a hypothesis, what will happen when we mix cornstarch with water?  Use large bucket to allow them to each add a small amount of cornstarch and water then give them a chance to stir mixture.  After each camper has had a turn ask them to describe what is happening. Explain how it is a non-newtonian (it violates Newton's third law of motion “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.") It acts like a liquid when you pour it; however, takes on solid properties when you add pressure or force.  Options: Can place a small amount of Oobleck on a plastic mat or tablecloth to let kids play with it.

Blood is gross - but if you use candy...

What is in our Blood? 

 

Blood carries necessary body fluids throughout the system and then carries waste away. Blood is made up of four different parts, and each part is important and unique. This activity will introduce kids to each component of blood and give them a fun way to study the properties of blood while making candy soup.  Plasma composes 55% of our blood, and is 90% water. It carries dissolved nutrients like glucose, protein and hormones to parts of the body and picks up waste to bring back to organs to be cleaned or "filtered" it out.

 

Materials: Candy red hots, Corn syrup, White jellybeans or marshmallows, Candy sprinkles,Small clear cups

 

Procedure:

In this activity, plasma is represented by the corn syrup. While discussing the properties of plasma, have kids fill their cup approximately 55% full of corn syrup. Red Blood Cells comprise 44% of our blood. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin and carry oxygen around the body, only living about 3 months. These cells are continuously reproduced in the bone marrow. In this activity, red blood cells are represented by the red hots. While discussing the properties of red blood cells, have campers fill their cup approximately 44% full of red hots. White Blood Cells account for .5% of our blood and are larger than red blood cells. They are built to fight infections. In this activity, white blood cells are represented by the white jellybeans or marshmallows. While discussing the properties of white blood cells, have the kids add a few white jellybeans or marshmallows to their cup. Platelets account for .5% of our blood and help to clot our blood when we get a cut. Add a few candy sprinkles to the bowl to represent platelets.

Bird Poop Art (Not really poop, just poop-like)

Bird Pop (poop) Art 

 

One of the greatest joys for a kid is how fecal matter can become a viable learning tool about nature.  Birds give critical clues about feeding and social behaviors from simply examining their droppings.  When birds flock, where they nest, and what they eat are all information divulged by their random splatters.  

 

Materials: white acrylic paint or any paint, blackberries, birdseed, other berries, paper, straws

 

Procedure:

Introduce this activity by asking kids what they think birds eat. Place a couple drops or “splats” of white paint on each camper’s piece of paper.  Allow kids to smudge berries, birdseed, or any other available material into the white drops of paint.  Then campers can take a straw and blow near their paint drops, creating a splatter effect.  Make sure the straw does not touch the paint.  Encourage kids to create their poop with particular bird species behaviors and diets in mind.  This activity gives an opportunity for kids to explore artistic creativity and learn about bird biology and behavior, while indulging in scatological diversions so endeared by children. 

Fresh Air Family

P.O. Box 321038 Birmingham, AL 35232

205-540-6642

Events@FreshAirFamily.org