If you google “pre-k science projects” you will get 100 billion hits. As I am slowly sorting through those suggestions, I wondered if any of you had recently done a pre-k science project or seen one that looked cool.
The kids are really getting nothing out of it at that age so I’m pretty much looking for something fun and easy. My idea of seeing how many marshmallows each kid could fit in their respective mouths was nixed by the Administration.
I remember in kindergarten my mind was blown that you could put a paper towel inside a plastic cup (crumpled up so it stayed put), turn the cup upside down, put the cup entirely under water, and when you pulled it back out the paper towel was dry.
A multi-day one is to put celery in a glass with colored water in the bottom, to prove capillary action.
Maybe beyond the kids’ capabilities - can you swallow water while you’re upside down?
One I did- kids are learning about color mixing. Get a sharpie pen that’s green or orange, for example (mixed color). Take some filter paper, like a coffee filter and cut it into a long strip. Draw a big dot of color near the bottom and put the end of the strip into a little dish of rubbing alcohol. As the alcohol wicks up the strip, it will separate out the colors into distinct bands.
Another super easy one- sink or float? collect objects around the house and have them predict which will sink or float. Fill a sink with water and test each one. Bonus points if you make a chart and draw a picture or tape a photograph on the float or sink column.
Another- take a clear plastic cup and nest a second cup in it. In between the two cups put a wet paper towel and place large seeds. Vary the direction the seeds are pointing. You should be able to see the seed from outside the outer cup. As the seeds sprout the roots will all eventually point down (which would be into the soil). Moisten the paper towel every day by dribbling a bit of water. Ask the kids to think why its good the roots always grow down.
One last one- set up three dixie cups with soil and plant a seed. Find what what plants need to grow. based on what they see, what do plants need?
Great- just make sure you don’t get an alcohol resistant marker or it own’t work. Regular sharpies are good for it. An advanced version of this is to take leaves and crush them in rubbing alcohol and let them soak for a week or longer. THen get that same filter paper and let it wick the liquid up. You can see not only the green chlorophyll but also other pigments masked by the green.
(ITD who ran an elementary school science fair for 8 years as a parent volunteer).
My youngest daughter came up with her own in kindergarten. She posited that relative size was what made thing buoyant. Specifically, she was sure that big fruits (apple, grapefruit, orange) would sink in water and little fruits (cherries, grapes) would float. Of course it came out exactly the opposite and she learned what density was. I was really proud because she came up with the whole thing herself with no prompting. Her track record since then has been mixed.
My five-year-old nephew really liked the one where you put an ice-cube in a bowl of water, sprinkle on a little salt, and put a string on top so that the end of it lays flat on the surface of the ice. The salt melts the top of the ice, which then refreezes around the string, so if you’re gentle you can lift the ice cube by the other end of the string.
Follow-up: take two ice cubes and sprinkle salt on one but not the other, and note the differences in how they melt.
Mixing vinegar and baking soda was a big hit, too, as was mixing red cabbage powder with various acids and bases (vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda in water) and watching it change color.
The power of magnetism: First, make sure kids know about gravity. (Have them jump up and try to stay mid-air.) Then put a paper clip on the ground, and say that it’s you (with a magnet in your hand) vs. Planet Earth in a tug of war. (Or maybe choose a volunteer.) Is the pull of the magnet strong enough to lift the paper clip? (I did this one with fifth graders, and most of them thought the magnet couldn’t out pull the Earth.) Kids were taking bets until I stopped them.
It’s pretty cool that some of you still remember your pre-school projects. I better do a good job since my kid might actually remember this in 20 years (and hold it against me!). I’ll have to peek at the sign up sheet and see what has already been taken. There are some real Type A parents in this class and I don’t want to show up with the sad version of the baking soda volcano while the other kid has LED lights and a smoke machine.
What I learned at a very early age was that when you poke a dead thing in the abdomen with a stick (sounds like a morbid Clue game…) hard enough to make a hole in the abdominal cavity of said dead thing, the dead thing stinks much worse than it did before the hole. It shows, um, cause and effect.
An easy twist on the celery thing is to split the stalk and stick it into two different cups with two different colors.
Vis-a-Vis pens (overhead projector pens) are great for the paper chromatography thing. The colors used in the ink in each pen will separate really well, and there is no need for any solvent other than water.