Has anyone noticed it’s been a bit bright and warm of late? So did we! Science activities are often lumped in with movies and board games as classic ‘rainy day’ activities but we’ve spent the last week of glorious sunny days having outdoor science adventures. Read on to find out what science experiments we performed in the garden and in the woods, having brilliant outdoor fun with science activities.
Are you playing with science outdoors this summer? We have introduced an exclusive new Letterbox Lab badge for subscribers who send us photos and videos of their outdoor science adventures! Tag us in your snaps and use the hashtag #sunlab to really grab our attention, and we’ll pop the badge in your next box. One participant will even win a Meg and Pico T-shirt in our September draw! So get outside, and get snapping!
Day one: Elasticopters
This is a fantastic engineering challenge from Explore Box 7: Up in the Air, and Investigate Box 7: Over the Top. We provide a propeller and elastic bands, and your child has to experiment with different materials and designs in order to build the best helicopter they can. On a sunny day, you can launch it outside and investigate the effect of the wind on your helicopter’s flight pattern.
Day two: Bubbles
The summer presents the perfect opportunity to study surface tension and the molecular structure of detergents. In other words, playing with bubbles is fun! Explore Box 8: Bubbles and Boats, and Investigate Box 8: Bubbles Ahoy include super strong bubble mix and bubble wand-making equipment, so you can go ahead and get your bubble on!
Day three: Paper Helicopters
This is an expansion activity from Box 7, available via our online resources. These paper helicopters are modelled on sycamore seeds, which spin as they fall to the ground. Whilst the elasticopter is powered by elastic energy, the paper helicopters only have Gravity on their side, so they only fly downwards, but are still great fun for outdoor science experiments!
Day four: Fizz Rocket
The Fizz Rocket is the grand finale of Investigate Box 4: Rocket Fuel, bringing together a whole range of topics that little scientists have investigated throughout the box. It’s one of the experiments in the series that has a messiness rating of three splats, and we always recommend performing it outdoors. What a time to launch the rocket though! Seeing it fly up towards a big blue sky is enormously satisfying.
Day five: UV Beads
UV beads may look like regular beads, but they are mighty! UV light is an invisible light that is higher energy than the light we can see. It’s what you need to worry about when you and your little ones are out in the Sun, because the UV rays from the Sun can damage our skin. Shine it onto UV beads, however, and you see a glorious colour change. We provide a UV torch with the beads in Explore Box 5: Go with the Glow and Investigate Box 5: Let it Glow, but they look even more dramatic under strong sunlight.
Side note: remember to always wear sunscreen when playing outdoors. Have a look at the NHS’ factsheet about sun safety here. Turning your UV beads into a bracelet (with the string we provide) will give you a useful reminder of the power of the Sun’s rays, as they’ll dramaticlly change colour as soon as you step outside.
Day six: Rainbow Glasses
We love the rainbow glasses that come with Explore Box 1: Hidden Rainbows and Investigate Box 1: Marvellous Mixtures. Once your child has customised and assembled them, they can keep them for endless observations. Whilst you must never (and we repeat, never) look directly at the Sun whilst wearing them, looking through them at shiny objects on a sunny day will fill your child’s world with glittering, dancing colours.
Day seven: Photon Beam of Destruction
Pico’s words, not ours! In Investigate Box 5: Let it Glow, Pico builds a sinister device intended for the destruction of balloons. It works best on a sunny day so if you’ve been holding onto that one throughout the less-than-satisfying spring, now’s the time to crack it open and harness the power of the Sun! Remember to always pick up the broken balloons afterwards so that animals don’t eat them.
Bonus: Minibeast Safari
Investigate Box 5 really is the box of the moment! As well as bringing you the UV beads and Photon Beam, it includes a minibeast safari guide and logbook so that little scientists can go outdoors and discover the intricate ecosystems on their doorsteps. A forest floor on a day like today is the ideal spot for minibeast-hunting!
Is your child an outdoor scientist?
Send us a photo or video of your little scientist’s outdoor adventures and you’ll get the Sunny Scientist badge in your next box! You’ll also be added to our prize draw for a Meg and Pico T-shirt. Check out the T&Cs here.
All of the activities listed above are available via our Investigate science subscription box. The Elasticopter, bubble mix, UV beads and rainbow glasses also feature in our Explore science subscription box. If you want to receive a monthly (or bimonthly) box crammed full of incredible science experiments that your child will love, join our club and get 20% off your first science kit!