Science challenges provide fun ways for kids to experience the world of science through explorations and experiments. From life sciences to chemistry to physical and earth science, one of the best ways for kids to learn important concepts is to participate in hands-on activities and challenges. You can adapt challenges for use as a teaching tool for kids of any age.
Life Science: Peripheral Vision Test
Using basic materials and a partner, kids can test their peripheral vision for motion, colours and shapes. The challenge covers concepts in life science relating to biology and senses. Cut a 12-inch radius semi circle out of cardboard with a smaller half circle in the centre of the straight side just large enough to fit around your nose. Place a pushpin into the centre of the outer arc of the semi circle to serve as a focal point. Fashion a handle on the bottom of the semi circle using a small disposable cup and glue. Kids can challenge each others' peripheral vision by drawing simple shapes of different colours on small index cards. While one kid holds the cardboard semi circle at his nose and focuses on the push pin, the other slowly slides the index card from the outer corner closer to the pushpin. Have the kids note the angles at which they see the motion of the card and the colour and shape drawn on it.
Physical Science: Eggs at Rest
Explore the properties of inertia and force with an egg, a glass of water, and a few other tools. This challenge lets kids see for themselves that objects at rest stay at rest until force is applied. The risk of a slimy broken egg adds excitement to the challenge, but you can adapted it to use other, less messy objects.
Place a half-filled glass of water on the edge of a table with a disposable pie pan on top of the glass. Put an empty toilet paper roll on end in the centre of the pie pan, directly over the glass and then place the egg on top of the toilet paper roll. Stand next to the table with a broom and use tension from placing your foot on the bristles to release the broom handle toward the apparatus. The broom handle should hit the pie pan but not the glass or the toilet paper roll. The pie pan and toilet paper roll go flying, while the egg, having had no force applied to it, falls into the glass of water.
Chemistry: Blowing Up Baloons with Carbon Dioxide
Kids can explore the results of an acid-base chemical reaction while having some fun with balloons. Tell kids how to create the reaction, or for an added challenge, provide the ingredients and tools and let them experiment.
For each balloon, use an empty water bottle, one teaspoon of baking soda, 40 millilitres of water and either the juice of one lemon or the equivalent amount of vinegar. Stretch the balloon before mixing the ingredients. Pour the water into the bottle, add the baking soda and stir with a drinking straw. Add the lemon juice or vinegar and quickly stretch the balloon over the bottle top. The balloon should inflate with carbon dioxide.