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Summer activities to get kids pumped about science

Carolyn Rahaman is a professional SSAT tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She holds a Master's degree in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University.

Science is all around us. Engage your child in this fascinating subject over the summer with these activities and suggestions.

mother looking at leaves with daughter

Photo credit: Dean Mitchell/iStock/360/Getty Images

Science activities are a fantastic way to spend an afternoon or a morning during the long months of summer break. Such projects can excite students, leading them to look forward to the subject rather than dread it. They may also prompt children to become more involved in science outside the classroom. Here are seven suggestions to help you make your student's summer science exploration meaningful.

1. Select an entertaining activity

Completing dull projects with your child will not endear science to her. Choose an activity that will fascinate your student, such as attempting to float a penny on water, building a pinhole projector, creating slime, growing crystals, hosting a paper airplane creation competition, hunting for fossils or mixing your own popsicles. The internet is a wonderful source for experiments.

2. Extend the learning opportunity

If you and your child try stargazing, and he or she greatly enjoys it it, encourage your student to learn about constellations, moons and planets. If you create dinosaur track impressions at the kitchen table, and your child adores it, locate books about dinosaurs and learn the different species' habits; you can even build models of each animal. Foster such deep investigations by explaining that there is always more to discover with any project.

3. Share the secret

The secret is this: This is science. The slime that dissolved your student into giggles? Science. Your game of "Will it float?" Science. The pinewood derby or the leaf collection? Science. You can find science everywhere, and it can be wonderful.

4. Ask questions often

Why did the water balloon float in water? Why does the baking soda cause the volcano to bubble up? The summer is the perfect time to delve deeper into the concepts behind the activity. Ensure each experiment is a positive learning experience. This can be difficult if you do not know a great deal about the science behind the project, but do not be afraid to say, "I don't know. Let's find out." Searching for answers, together, online or in the library can be an extremely meaningful experience for you and your child.

5. Try variations of activities

Ask how you can change the activity to reach a different result. Can you modify a stage in the experiment so the egg does not break during the egg drop? Can you make the model rocket go higher? What ingredient can you add so the slime is greener? Test your hypotheses to enable your student to develop a well-rounded understanding of the project.

6. Demonstrate your excitement

If you dread the hour(s) or the day you devote to science each week, and if you grumble that the experiment is confusing and the results are unclear, your child will note your behavior and follow your example. He or she will then be highly unlikely to enjoy scientific exploration.

7. Meet scientists or visit scientific resources in your community

Travel to a museum or join a local outdoor club. Here, experts can help guide and deepen your student's understanding, and your child can meet real scientists who are normal people just like you and me.

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit www.varsitytutors.com.

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