Now that summer has arrived, we parents have a gloriously long stretch of time to share new ideas and spark creative thinking through projects that inspire curiosity about our natural world.
Tara Chklovski, a San Carlos-based aerospace engineer and founder of a global science education nonprofit, Iridescent, shares some wonderful science projects with us today! Her goal is to inspire children to observe the world around them, ask questions, solve problems and invent new solutions.
Over the past seven years of working with thousands of children and parents, she has discovered one truth: parents (yes, you!) are the ideal science educators.
On her website, the Curiosity Machine, kids can watch videos, learn about amazing scientific concepts and participate in engineering design challenges. In return, they’ll get constructive feedback from professional scientists and engineers, and begin to develop what could become a lifelong interest in solving problems and understanding our great wide world.
Here’s Tara’s selection of 10 Online Science Projects to Inspire Your Kids this Summer:
Week 1. Physics of Flight – Building a Gliding Bird
Learn what makes an object glide – whether it’s a bird flying through air or a turtle whizzing through the water. Build a glider from paper and observe which designs fly the farthest.
Week 2. Boat Stability – Making Unstable Boats Stable
Learn about buoyancy and stability and design a boat that can hold five pennies without toppling over.
Week 3. Physics of Boat – Wind Powered Speed Boats
Learn about the interactions between high-speed boats and huge waves from naval architect Carolyn Judge. Design a balloon-powered speedboat to move as far as possible through the water.
Week 4. Camouflage in Cephalopods - Build an Octopus Chromatophore
Learn how the octopus camouflages itself to stay safe in nature. Make an expandable pigment sac inspired by the octopus’ chromatophores that can stretch into as big a shape as possible.
Week 5. Power Amplification – Build a Mighty Machine
Biologist Sheila Patek teaches us about her study of the fast movements in animals. Design an object that can jump vertically, horizontally or sideways, or flips over on the opposite side.
Week 6. Biomechanics of Algae Spores – Sticking a Spore
Ever wonder how a spider can walk upside-down and dangle from a tiny Web? Engineer a giant spider with a big body and 8 legs. The legs need to have 7 joints and they need to be able to raise the body off the ground.
Week 7. 3D Mapping – Mapping the Ocean Floor
How does a sprinkler spin to water the lawn? Design a sprinkler that spins and distributes water.
Week 8. 3D Motion – Making a Flat Ball
To understand physics, we need to simplify, so scientists often use applied mathematics to recreate complex situations and study them. Create a ball that is as round as possible using only flat shapes cut out of paper and taped together.
Week 9. Electricity – Make Your Own Hydroelectric Waterwheel
Our mission today is to build a hydroelectric waterwheel that can create it’s own source of energy. By designing an efficient turbine design we can test the amount of power it generates through the amount of weight it is able to lift.
Week 10. Buoyancy – Build a Submarine
Learn about the similarities between jellyfish and submarines from naval engineer John Dabiri. Build and navigate a submarine across a water tank.
~Tara Chklovski, is a San Carlos mom of two and founder/CEO of Iridescent, which runs nationwide science, technology, engineering and math mentoring programs. Iridescent is also home to science project website, Curiosity Machine, Curiosity Camp in the Woods, in Huddart Park this summer, as well as the world’s largest tech competition exclusively for girls, Technovation Challenge.
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