Science projects for 6-year-olds

Science projects for 6-year-olds, or children around first-grade age, require adult supervision or assistance. However, children at this age have the capability to participate in and learn from simple scientific activities. National standards for first-grade science include, among other topics, scientific inquiry, physical science (the properties of objects), life science (family and self) and Earth science (exploring the world). Several easy, age-appropriate activities create suitable classroom, home or science-fair projects.

Physical Science

Have children explore physical science properties using bubbles. Provide dishwashing liquid, water and various straws, pipe cleaners and wires to twist into bubble-making devices. Teach them about scientific inquiry by asking them to predict which mixtures and devices will create the best or longest-lasting bubbles.

After making predictions, instruct children to experiment with different amounts of water mixed with the dishwashing liquid to see which produces the best bubbles. They should also experiment with the different materials to create bubble-making devices to see which creates the best bubbles.

Further, explore physical properties by creating a mixture that appears to be both a solid and a liquid. Thoroughly mix ½-cup cornstarch into one cup of water. Add food colouring if desired. (Several other recipes for mixtures that exhibit the qualities of both a solid and a liquid can be created easily with household ingredients.) The mixture, also known as oobleck, exhibits the properties of both a liquid and a solid. When poured it appears to be a liquid, but when children attempt to push a finger into it, the mixture acts like a solid. This creates a suitable opportunity to discuss the properties of solids and liquids.

Life Science

Though life science in first grade generally focuses on family and self, plants and animals generally are introduced as forms of other living objects. Children this age enjoy making collections of small objects. Have them form a collection of leaves, rocks, shells or any natural small object available.

After collecting the object, encourage the child to sort the objects into groups according to their physical characteristics. Look for scientific picture books children can use to help identify their collection. Glue collected and sorted objects to a box lid or stiff piece of cardboard to create a scientific display.

The Earth

Six-year-olds enjoy working with modelling clay. Explore the layers of the Earth through pictures or online resources. Have children create a drawing of the Earth's layers by tracing small circles within larger ones. This helps them prepare to create a model.

Use different colours of modelling clay to create a model of the Earth. Start with a small round core in one colour, and then use different colours to create the rest of the layers: the inner mantle, outer mantle and thinnest layer, the crust. An edible variation for an Earth model uses a marshmallow into which you push a chocolate chip as the core. Roll the marshmallow in chocolate frosting for the outer mantle then graham cracker crumbs for the crust.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Stover, an 18 year veteran teacher and author, has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Maryland with a minor in sociology/writing. Stover earned a masters degree in education curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas, Arlington and continues to work on a masters in Educational Leadership from University of North Texas. Stover was published by Creative Teaching Press with the books "Science Tub Topics" and "Math Tub Topics."