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Summer STEAM Projects - Play, Explore & Learn Outdoors

Where I'm pretending to be when I close my eyes

School may be out, or nearly out, but sadly my kids aren't as happy to lie around in the sun closing their eyes and resting their brains as me. So we'll still be doing some activities at home together.

I don't know about you, but I find once we've done one fun thing together, I buy myself a bit of time to do some of that sitting in the sun afterwards, while they entertain themselves for a bit.

That's why I wanted to share some fun experiments that take a bit of time to do together but are simple enough to do with things around your house. They're also all outside friendly and perfect for hot summer days when you can't muster the energy for much else.

Water Balloons Float or Sink

You'll need:

  • Balloons

  • A tap

  • Deep bowl of water (or bath or sink)

  • Salt and/or sugar

  • Funnel

  • A freezer

What to do:

  • In advance, make some water balloons by sealing your balloon's neck around a tap and filling up slowly. Once it's filled, slowly release the air from the neck until the water starts to spill out and then tie (for this experiment you need to make sure there's no air inside).

  • Make some different kinds of balloons too such as:

* Salt/sugar water: using a funnel put as much salt/sugar into some balloons as you can and then fill with warm water to help it dissolve. Make sure to remember which these balloons are.

* Ice: put a couple of balloons into the freezer for ice balloons.

* Air: blow up some balloons.

  • Ask them to predict whether each balloon will float or sink in your deep bowl of water. They might use existing knowledge, like that they've seen ice float in drinks or that icebergs float.

  • Test out each balloon to check your predictions. You should find the air, water and ice balloons float but the salt/sugar water balloons sink. This is because salt/sugar water is denser. You could explain this that mixing things with the water makes the water denser (/heavier).

  • Throw the balloons around to cool off! (not the ice balloons!!)

Bottle Rockets Blast Off

You'll need:

  • Lego/Duplo (other launch pad builds possible)

  • 2 litre plastic bottle

  • Cork

  • Bicarbonate of soda/Baking powder

  • Vinegar

What to do:

  • In advance make a rocket launch pad. This is something that your bottle can balance in upside down with the top resting a few cm above the floor. This could be made with duplo/lego or could be made into more of a project with craft sticks/junk modelling.

  • Make sure you have a cork that fits snugly inside the top of your bottle.

  • Add around 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda to the plastic bottle.

  • Place the launch pad outside and next to it prepare around 2 cups of vinegar in a jug, a funnel in the bottle and have the cork ready.

  • Have your child stand back out of the way and then as quickly as you can, add the vinegar, put the cork in and put the bottle into the launch pad upside down.

  • Stand back and watch!

  • You can talk to your child about the reaction releasing lots of bubbles and the bubbles making more air inside the bottle. Once the air has no more space it pushes the cork out which launches the rocket up.

Solar Oven Melty Snacks

You'll need:

  • A warm sunny day

  • Cereal box/Shoe box/Cake box

  • Aluminium foil

  • Cling film

  • Tape

  • Chopstick/Skewer/Pencil

  • Crackers/Biscuits

  • Things to melt, e.g. chocolate, cheese, marshmallows

What to do:

  • Cut a flap in the front of your box like an oven door. Make sure the other sides are sealed.

  • Line the whole inside of the box and lid with aluminium foil. Explain that this helps the heat from the sun reflect/bounce around and make the inside hot.

  • Put in your crackers and top with your melty topping.

  • Seal the box opening with cling film and tape down securely. Explain that this helps to keep the hot air inside your oven.

  • Prop the lid up with a stick and face towards the sun on a hot day.

  • You could put some control crackers and toppings next to your oven to compare where the toppings melt quickest.

  • Watch the toppings melt in the sun as your oven heats up.

  • Eat!


Little STEAMers classes give you plenty of fun ideas like this for 2-5 year olds to try together at home. You can try your first class for free.

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