Providing quality hands-on experiments for kids will develop their earth science and hopefully spark curiosity in learning more about the natural world. Many kids struggle with traditional book-based learning and thrive when working through experiments. These engaging activities will give your hands-on learners a chance to shine! Let’s take a look at 20 exciting earth science activities for kids.
1. Tornado in a Bottle
For this, you will need two 2-liter bottles, duct tape, water, and dish soap. Fill one of the bottles with water until it’s 3/4 full and add a squirt of dish soap. Take the empty bottle and place it on top- opening to opening. Secure with tape. Moving the water between the two creates a cool tornado effect!
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2. Baking Soda Science
For this science experiment, you will need, mini cups, a round tray, an eyedropper, baking soda, blue and green food coloring, and vinegar. Place your mini cups on your round tray, and fill each with a spoonful of baking soda and a drop of food coloring. Add vinegar, and watch what happens!
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3. Egg Shell Gardens
Save some eggshells and rinse them before use. Place moistened soil and a couple of seeds in each eggshell and place them in a sunny window. Finely mist the seeds each day until they sprout. Kids can keep a record of the changes they see each day.
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4. Water Cycle in a Bag
For this fun water cycle experiment you will need a ziplock bag, a sharpie, water, and food coloring. Draw a simple water cycle on the bag and leave it in a warm window. Come back in a couple of hours and see what has happened!
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5. Build a Desert Biome
Teach basic earth science with this super fun activity that requires a sealable jar, sand, dirt, sticks, rocks, desert plants, and water. Pour a mixture of dirt and sand into the jar. Kids can then arrange their rocks and sticks on top of this as they wish. Seal and place in a sunny window. After a couple of days, you should notice condensation appear; this means your biome is working!
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6. Salt Dough Islands
Provide each student with a blue paper plate, some salt dough, and air-drying clay. They can mix the dough and clay together to create land on their earth plate. Leave these to dry overnight then and then have learners paint them using acrylic paint.
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7. Ocean Oil Spill
This activity teaches kids how oil spills happen and how hard they are to clean up. Fill a tub with water and blue food coloring. Add boats and marine animal toys. Let the kids play with this for a while before adding a small amount of olive oil. Discuss how you are going to clean up the ocean; providing a variety of methods, such as paper towels, sponges, etc.
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8. Cloud in a Jar
Kids will be amazed by this! You will need a glass jar with a lid, hot water, hairspray, and ice cubes. Start by adding 1/3 cup of boiling water to the jar, spray hairspray into the jar, and quickly seal the lid with the ice on top. Watch as a cloud forms in the jar!
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9. Comparing Soil Experiment
Ask students which type of soil they think will be best for planting. Students can test this by putting a small amount of 3 different soil types in a coffee filter secured onto plastic cups with a rubber band. When water is added, they will record their observations and draw a conclusion.
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10. Ocean Layers Activity
This activity introduces students to the 3 main layers of the ocean; surface ocean, deep ocean, and seafloor sediments. Students must weigh out the different ingredients and record what happens when these are placed together in the glass jar.
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11. Volcano Activity
Making a volcano is a classic science experiment. You will need, play dough, baking soda, vinegar, and red food coloring. Place a cup in the center of a tray and build your volcano shape around this with the play. Then, take it outside and add baking soda to the crater before adding vinegar and waiting for an eruption.
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12. Core Sampling Activity
This is a great hands-on geology experiment to teach earth science concepts. Discuss the different layers of the Earth. Assign a different color play dough to each layer and have kids build a section of the earth’s layers. Provide a straw for kids to dip into the earth to retrieve a sample.
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13. Solar Energy Balloon
Learners can paint one plastic bottle white and one black. Once dry, they can attach a balloon to each neck of the bottle and place them in the sun. Kids will notice that the air in the black balloon heats up faster and inflates the balloon faster.
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14. Bird Feeder Science Craft
Students can plan their bird feeder and discuss what materials will work well and be long-lasting. Here, they used popsicle sticks to create a tray effect and used pipe cleaners for it to hang from.
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15. Refraction of Light Activity
Discuss how different colors are refracted by different angles due to their different wavelengths. So, when light is refracted it disperses into different colors. Demonstrate this by placing a glass prism in direct sunlight to produce a rainbow effect.
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16. Earth Layers Activity
This 3D earth layers activity helps kids understand the structure of the Earth. You will need 5 colors of modeling clay and some dental floss. Learners can form a ball for the core, and add another layer for the inner core, outer core, and so on. Once this is complete, they’ll use the dental floss to cut a layer out to reveal all the other layers.
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17. Earth Skittles Experiment
Kids love this colorful activity! Have them arrange blue and green skittles on a white plate in a rough Earth-colored pattern. When warm water is added, kids will see the colors melt away; creating this fun blending effect!
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18. Coffee Filter Earth
For this activity, you will need coffee filters, blue and green markers, and a spray bottle filled with water. Remind kids how much water there is on Earth so a large amount of this will need to be colored blue. Once they have colored their Earth, they can spray it with water and watch all the colors blend.
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19. Rising Water Experiment
Place a candle in the middle of a bowl and secure it with play dough. Next, learners can add a mixture of food coloring and water to a depth of about 1cm and light the candle. Ask kids to predict what happens next! Place a mason jar over the candle and watch as the water rises when the candle goes out.
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20. Banana Water Decomposition Experiment
Get your students to place two different food scraps into bottles and fill them with water; placing an uninflated balloon over the bottlenecks. One bottle should be a control bottle with water only. Learners can place them in the sun and observe what occurs after 7-10 days. The gas created during decomposition should have inflated the balloons.
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