We know that kids are natural scientists, engineers and mathematicians. Keeping them engaged and learning at home and in our communities helps to build on their natural curiosity and see opportunities for learning in their everyday surroundings. As part of our Bringing STEM Home series, we’ve come up with easy, free or low cost at-home activities and experiments for learners in K-8th grade.
These activities with water will demonstrate the stages of matter and elementary lessons in buoyancy. With just a few household items, we can show our learners just how versatile water can be and give us plenty of opportunities for experiments.
For this activity, you’ll need:
- A large tupperware, washing basin or bathtub
- A freezer-safe glass or ice tray
- A freezer
- A pot with a lid
- A stove or burner
- Several items of various buoyancies (think pennies, marbles, legos, ice cubes, ping pong balls, apples, wood etc.)
Skills developed & learning goals:
- Creative thinking
- Fundamentals of the stages of matter
- Fundamentals of buoyancy
- Learning from trial and error
Fill the washing basin or tub halfway with water and prepare to drop in your items! Have your learner make predictions about which items will sink and which will float. Some items will be surprising -- apples float, even though they’re weighty! Pennies sink, even though they’re small! The property of buoyancy determines whether things sink or float.
For older students, see if they can predict how much the water will rise when the object is dropped in. This is called displacement and it can be a way to measure how heavy the item is!
When you’re done testing your items, there are still more experiments to do with water! The stages of matter are easily demonstrated by creating solid ice cubes out of tap water in its liquid form, then placing those ice cubes in a pot on the stove. When you heat the ice cubes, gas is produced in the form of steam! Water is the only substance on earth that can naturally exist in all three states!
For more STEM at-home family fun this summer, explore our EiE Family & STEM Events.