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5 Science Activities for Outdoor Kids

The outdoors offers much more to children than a place to kick a ball around. The world is full of scientific wonders just waiting to be explored. Objects and scientific knowledge adults take for granted fascinate children. Below are five great ways to introduce your kids to science.

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Astronomy

A star watch offers kids plenty of excitement. There’s the thrill of being out after dark, and playing with binoculars or telescopes is always fun. Even a moderately powerful pair of binoculars is sufficient to see the moon in detail.

Choose an area well away from city lights for star-gazing. Meteor showers are predictable events and occur several times a year, so why not take the kids out to watch shooting stars?

You can print out star charts for your area off astronomy sites and go constellation spotting. Many Western constellations are based on Greek myths, so you can tell kids the stories of Orion or other heroes (bear in mind some of the stories are quite violent or sexual and may not be appropriate for kids).

Astronomy clubs meet on a regular basis and offer kids opportunities to use some of the more powerful amateur telescopes to spot planets. Seeing the rings of Saturn through a telescope is quite an event.

Geocaching

Geocaching combines hiking with technology. “Cachers” use GPS systems to locate hidden capsules containing small prizes. You get the kids outside, they get the excitement of a treasure hunt and they learn to share by replacing prizes with small items of equivalent value. Just expect tired cachers to pass out on the wall to wall carpet in the den when you get home.

Bug Fishing

If you have access to a pond or river, go on an aquatic bug hunt. Kids can net water critters and observe them in clear plastic or glass containers. Add a bug identification book and a picnic and you have a full day’s activity.

Bug fishing teaches kids respect for the environment by releasing animals after capturing them. You can also bring along some gloves and bags to clean up garbage before you leave.

Microscope Fun

Kids’ microscopes range in complexity from small and portable handheld devices to electronic microscopes which display images on laptops. They all have one thing in common: they change how kids look at the world.

A boring drop of water transforms into an ecosystem under a microscope. Kids can compare natural and man-made items as well, contrasting the natural grass of the lawn with pieces of commercial carpet.

Kite Building

Kite flying’s a fun activity, but nothing compares to the thrill of flying a kite you built yourself. You can find premade kite kits online, or build one from scratch. Building and flying kites teaches kids about aerodynamics and engineering. You can even add in some cultural education by discussing areas of the world where kite-fighting is a sport.

Whichever activity you choose, remember that the power of nature is your best ally.


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