Every highly-engaged parent knows education doesn’t stop when a child leaves the classroom.

Whether it’s conversations at the dinner table or interactions on the playground, each experience is an opportunity to further understand our world. In other words, the minds of our children are shaped through their experiences.

At BioPop, we’re unabashedly #TeamSTEAM.

As scientists, artists, and lifelong dreamers, we believe our children – tomorrow’s leaders – must have critical thinking, creativity, and – of course – a little bit of chutzpah. And, there’s no better way to inspire these skills than to engage in active play!

Below, we’ve rounded up a few summer science activities that will inspire your child (and your inner mermaid) to kindle his or her natural curiosity.

By turning active play into a regular family activity, we hope your child will not see learning as a chore, but instead as an opportunity for fun, immersive play.


 

The Egg Drop Challenge

Can you design a contraption that will protect a falling egg?
Subjects: Engineering, Design, Physics

 

 

Solar Oven S’mores

Build a solar oven that will cook tasty s’mores!
Subjects: Physics, Chemical Energy

 

 

Water Bottle Rockets

Watch what happens when an acid interacts with a base!
Subjects: Chemistry, Physics

 

The Egg in a Bottle Project

Learn how air pressure can force an egg into a bottle
Subjects: Chemistry, Physics


The Egg Drop Challenge

Can you design a contraption that will protect a falling egg?

Subjects: Engineering, Design, Physics

We love the Egg Drop Challenge for a few reasons: it’s collaborative, it doesn’t require many materials, and the only limit to this challenge is your own imagination!

Plus, it’s unlikely your child will succeed on the first try, so this is an excellent opportunity to explain the idea of failure as a challenging, but necessary path to success.

The idea behind the challenge is simple: with a few basic items – along with miscellaneous things found around the home – try to design a contraption that will prevent an egg from breaking once dropped from a two-story (or higher) building.

What you’ll need:
  • A dozen eggs
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic bags
  • Straws
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Paper & pen
  • Other miscellaneous household supplies you can find
  • Cleaning supplies (for later!)
  • (Optional) A cell phone with video-recording capabilities
Directions:

Step 1: Discuss the problem and reflect on what will need to occur in order for the problem to be solved. Ask yourself some basic preliminary questions, such as: What materials will protect the egg? How can I make the egg land softly? Does extra weight affect the my device’s ability to protect the egg?

Step 2: Once you’ve reviewed the problem, design a prototype.

Step 3: Test your prototype by dropping it off of a two-story (or higher) building. Observe the egg drop carefully and take notes. If you have a cell phone, record the drop on video.

Step 4: Review your observations of the egg drop. Was there anything that happened with your prototype? What worked? What didn’t work? What can you do better next time?

Step 5: Continue designing new prototypes until you’ve achieved your goal!


Enjoying this article? Subscribe to our STEAM education series to get more tips on how to pick the perfect “smart” toys for your child.


solar oven for s'mores

Solar Oven S’mores

Build a solar oven that will cook tasty s’mores

Subjects: Physics, Chemical Energy

Solar ovens aren’t just great for experiments. Because they’re simple, inexpensive, and low-tech, solar ovens are also used across the world as environmentally-friendly and no-fuel cooking devices.

In fact, large-scale solar ovens can even cook food for hundreds of people at one time!

Here’s how they work:

  • First, a mirrored surface concentrates light from the sun. The magnitude of how much light is concentrated depends on the geometry and design of the mirrored surface.
  • Next, the light interacts with a receiver like a metal pot or pan. By interacting with a material that conducts and retains heat, the light is able to convert from light energy to heat energy.
  • Finally, to prevent the oven from losing heat, a clear lid or cover must be used to trap the heat energy inside.

Ready to get started?

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Pizza box
  • Aluminum foil
  • Small, metal pan
  • Glue
  • Stick
  • Clear cling wrap
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Graham crackers
  • Large marshmallows
  • Plain chocolate bars
Directions:

Step 1: First, you’ll need to make an oven door.

Create a flap by cutting a U-shaped square into the lid of the pizza box. Leave the side closest to the folding edge of the pizza box uncut.

Be sure to also leave a one or two-inch border along the sides of your square.

making flap for solar oven

Step 2: Next, use the glue to line the inside of the pizza box with aluminum foil, including the inside of the top flap. Try to get the aluminum foil as smooth and flat as possible, as if you’re trying to create a mirrored surface.

adding foil to solar oven

Step 3: Create an airtight oven window. With two layers of cling wrap, cover the hole you created in the lid of the pizza box. Tape the cling wrap to the sides of the lid.

adding plastic wrap to solar oven

Step 4: Use the stick to prop up the flap of the oven door and preheat the oven by placing it in the sun for 30 minutes.

Step 5: Break the graham crackers in half to make squares, then place the graham crackers on top of the metal pan. Place a marshmallow on each of the graham crackers then put the metal pan inside the oven. Make sure everything is airtight!

putting s'mores into solar oven

Step 6: Depending on how hot the day is, the marshmallows should take about 30 minutes to an hour to soften. Once the marshmallows are soft and squishy, take the pan out of the oven and place a small piece of chocolate on top of each marshmallow.

Step 7: Place the s’mores back inside the oven for just a few minutes to soften the chocolate. Then, take the s’mores out of the oven, top them off with another graham cracker, and enjoy!


water bottle rocket in flight

Water Bottle Rockets

Watch what happens when an acid interacts with a base

Subjects: Chemistry, Physics

Learning chemistry is tough. Some of us at BioPop still have nightmares about taking chemistry exams! But, chemistry is a lot more interesting and easier to understand when you get to make your own rockets.

Here’s how it works:

  • The bottle rocket is just a simple combination of vinegar and baking soda.
  • Vinegar contains acetic acid (CH3COOH) and baking soda is another name for sodium bicarbonate (NAHCO3).
  • When the two substances combine, they react to form sodium acetate and carbonic acid.
  • Then, the carbonic acid undergoes an additional reaction to form carbon dioxide.
  • Because carbon dioxide is a gas – and gas takes up more space than liquids or solids – pressure builds within the bottle until the cork is pushed out and the bottle projects into the air.

WARNING: This activity must be performed outside, away from people, animals and precious property! Adult supervision is strongly encouraged.

What you’ll need:

  • 12 oz plastic bottle
  • 3 Pencils
  • Duct Tape
  • Toilet Paper
  • 1 Cork
  • Electrical Tape
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

Directions:

Step 1: Spread out a long strip of toilet paper and pour a generous tablespoon of baking soda inside the middle.

using baking soda for bottle rocket

Step 2: Roll the toilet paper into a burrito-shaped cylinder. Fold the ends to seal the baking soda.

folding baking soda for bottle rocket

Step 3: Attach the three pencils to the bottle by wrapping duct tape along the sides. Be sure to arrange the pencils so the bottle can stand upright.

adding pencils to bottle rocket

Step 4: Pour vinegar into the bottle until it is about half full.

adding vinegar to bottle rocket

Step 5: Go outside with the bottle, baking soda, cork, and electrical tape.

Step 6: Insert the baking soda burrito inside the water bottle and try not to let it touch the vinegar.

putting baking soda into bottle rocket

Step 7: Plug the cork into the opening of the bottle.

Step 8: Turn the bottle upside down so it rests on top of the pencils, give it a shake, then STEP AWAY FROM THE BOTTLE.

plugging cork into bottle rocket

Step 9: Watch the bottle fly!

Heads up: ours took several tries to get it *just* right, so have some patience! You may have to play around with the formula a bit.

bottle rocket fail


egg in a bottle

The Egg in a Bottle Project

Learn how air pressure can force an egg into a bottle

Subjects: Chemistry, Physics

We love the Egg in a Bottle project because – to the untrained eye – it’s a fun and easy party trick. But, as with all things, this natural phenomenon can be explained through science. Plus, the project is so simple, it only requires four materials to perform!

Here’s how it works:

  • The magic is all in the air pressure. When you place an egg on top of a bottle, nothing happens because the air pressure outside of the bottle matches the air pressure inside of the bottle.
  • But, when a piece of burning paper is inside of the bottle, the inside air will expand and escape, causing the egg to shift.
  • Once the fire finishes consuming the oxygen, the flame of the burning paper will die down and the remaining air inside of the bottle will begin to cool.
  • But, because cool air takes up less space than hot air, the pressure of the air inside of the bottle will be less than the pressure outside of the bottle.
  • Finally, the greater air pressure from outside of the bottle will force the egg into the bottle.

Pretty cool, right?

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Wide-mouth glass bottle (the Starbucks Bottled Frappuccinos work fine)
  • Strip of paper
  • Matches or lighter

Directions:

Step 1: Peel the hard-boiled egg.

Step 2: Place the hard-boiled egg on top of the bottle. Nothing happened, right?

egg on top of bottle

Step 3: Now, remove the egg and carefully light your strip of paper with a match or lighter.

lighting strip of paper

Step 4: Place the strip of paper inside the bottle.

Step 5: Set the peeled hardboiled egg on top of the bottle opening. Now, watch the magic begin!

egg inside bottle

 

 

Science projects are excellent opportunities to experience active play with your child and these simple activities will help introduce complex #STEAM subjects in a fun and immersive way.

We hope these projects are just the beginning (or middle) of your educational play journey and you continue to find new, exciting ways to explore the natural world.

Keep us posted on how your projects perform!

As always, stay curious and #StayLit 🐟🐟

 


Enjoyed this article? Subscribe to our STEAM education series to get more tips on how to pick the perfect “smart” toys for your child.


 

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