How many times have parents heard the dreaded phrase, "I'm bored" uttered this summer?

With school out of session, the lack of a structured schedule can do more than just aggravate parents; many kids fall into what's known as the "summer slump" which puts students at a disadvantage when they do head back to school in the fall.

Van Andel Education Institute has some fun and easy experiments to do with your kids before their idle hands start doing something less constructive.

2-Liter Bottle Habitat
What you'll need:

  • Empty 2-Liter Bottle
  • Soil
  • Newspaper
  • Compostable Materials
  • Earthworms

How to do it: Cut off the top of the bottle.  Place a layer of shredded newspaper in the bottom.  Fill it halfway with soil.  Sprinkle in some newspaper and other organic materials.  Dig up some earthworms and drop them in.  Check back over the next few weeks and watch the earthworms break down the organic matter into rich soil!

Questions to consider: Where do worms usually live?  How do their bodies break everything down and turn it into soil?  How much does a worm eat in a day?  What happens to the soil over time?

Oobleck
Inspired by the book from Dr. Seuss, "Bartholomew and the Oobleck"; you'll only need three ingredients for this mess but fun activity:

  • Water
  • Cornstarch
  • Food Coloring

How to do it: Pour one cup (8 oz.) of cornstarch in a large bowl.  Add a few drops of food coloring to half a cup of water (4 oz.) - in the book, Oobleck is green.  Gradually stir the water into the cornstarch until the mixture reaches a smooth consistency that can be molded and shaped.  Note; for larger batches the mix is about 1.5 parts cornstarch to 1 part water.

What is Oobleck?  It is a “Non-Newtonian” fluid. This means that when a force is applied the viscosity of this liquid changes. This is because the cornstarch particles are suspended in the water particles, when moved quickly the cornstarch particles move closer together and act like a solid. When you apply a small amount of force the cornstarch particles spread apart and act like a liquid.

Van Andel Education Institute offers several programs that focus mainly on STEM topics.

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