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Summer is a time for long days spent outside, playing in the backyard, attending camps, and chilling at the community pool. But it can also offer the opportunity to reinforce learning done during the school year with informal and fun hands-on learning. After all, bugs, bubbles, frogs, flowers, tree houses, and stars make for pretty amazing teaching tools.
In the Summer Science Fun collection, you'll find, among other resources, five hands-on experiments that can be led by novice adults, utilize common household items, and are adaptable for time, space, and number of participants. The Afterschool section of our website also includes a number of hands-on activities, including Dances with Bees, Geyser Riser, and Balancing Points.
Several Science NetLinks lessons offer hands-on activities that could be adapted for use outside the classroom. Among others, we suggest The Kid's Guide to Exploring Nature, Using Vicky Cobb's Books to Teach Scientific Inquiry, Robert Gardner: Teaching Scientific Inquiry, Thomas Edison for Kids, The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science, A Taste of Exploratopia, Wildflower Garden, and Ricky's Atlas.
Use device time for apps that reinforce STEM-related activities: VideoScience App offers more than 80 videos featuring science experiments, book reviews, and tool recommendations. Science Buddies aims to empower K-12 students, parents, and teachers to easily find free project ideas and help in all areas of science. 24/7 Science is a good place to go for science games and hands-on activities.
Mobile devices also make great additions to a citizen scientist's kit: Set up a quest through Active Explorer and use the app to collect images, video, audio, notes, and other data and then go online to see what you’ve collected, study it, and use it to make posters, comics, slide shows, and other fun SmartWork. Identify local organisms, record observations about the nature around you, and engage in ecological citizen science projects with the Map of Life, iNaturalist, Project Noah, Leafsnap, Journey North, and Project Budburst apps.
Would you rather save device time for after dark? Not only can you watch videos or listen to podcasts, but you can also use your mobile device to learn about what's going on in the night sky: GoSkyWatch Planetarium allows you to identify and locate stars, planets, constellations, and more by touching the screen or by pointing to the sky. The Planets App, by Q Continuum, provides several different ways for you to get information about objects in the sky. You might also want to consider familiarizing yourself with constellations visible in the summer sky in Star Search or print out the Lunar Cycle calendar where you can record your observations of the moon. In addition, it provides illustrations of the phases of the moon (a full lunar cycle) that can be printed and cut out for a hands-on activity where you can place the phases of the moon in the correct order on a calendar.
Finally, summer is also a great time for spending some time with the written word, and reading challenges abound through schools and libraries. Science NetLinks and SB&F offer more than ten years of finalists for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, covering a broad array of topics and ranging from picture books to titles appropriate for young adults, promising at least one book for nearly every kind of reader.
Enjoy your summer! We hope it's filled with all sorts of scientific wonders!