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Try These STEAM Activities at Home and Get a “Reaction”

If you’ve ever observed our afternoon STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Enrichment program, you know our activities are eye-opening. They exercise our minds in challenging ways and often get our hands dirty – which is why it’s one of our Pre-K friends’ favorite parts of the day!

Each week, we introduce a new story and the enrichment activities all center around that story. Recently, we featured “Zoe and Beans: The Magic Hoop” by Chloe & Mick Inkpen, about a hoop that magically transforms Zoe’s dog, Beans, into all different types of animals when he jumps through it.

Similar to the book, our activities involved creating “magic” – that is, physical reactions – right in front of our very eyes! Here are two simple, educational experiments that you can re-create at home to bring science to life and get a reaction from your little ones:

The Classic STEAM Soda Explosion

Supplies

You’ll need:

  • 1 unopened, room temperature two-liter bottle of diet soda (Diet sodas produce larger reactions than non-diet sodas)
  • 1 package of Mentos mints

Instructions

  1. Go outside to an area where there is ample open space.

 

  1. Open the bottle of soda and place it on level ground.
  2. Drop several Mentos into the soda. (Make sure this is done by an adult.)

  1. Run!
  2. Watch the physical reaction create a geyser of soda out of the bottle and use the opportunity to talk with your child about the way materials can change when they interact with one another. (Scientific American can provide the highly detailed explanation of the chemistry and physics behind this reaction, but remember to keep the discussion age-appropriate.)

STEAM Sensory Bottles

Supplies

You’ll need:

  • 1 (or more) plastic water bottles
  • Water
  • Cooking oil
  • Beads
  • Jewels
  • Food coloring
  • 1-2 Alka-Seltzer tablets

  

Instructions

  1. Pour water into the empty plastic water bottle.

  1. Place several beads and/or gems into the water bottle. Observe if they sink or float.

  1. Add several tablespoons of oil to the bottle. Note how the oil separates from the water and talk about the concept of density – the reason why the oil floats on top of the water.

  1. Add several drops of food coloring to the mixture. How does the color react with the water and the oil? What happens when you shake or swirl it?

  1. Next, add an Alka-Seltzer tablet to the bottle for a reaction that you can not only see but also hear.

  1. Last, screw the bottle top on and allow your child to continue shaking or swirling the bottle, observing how the materials continue to interact with one another.

These experiments are easily doable at home and are a fun, engaging way to start teaching your children about basic scientific concepts that they can build on with other STEAM activities!

 

 

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