Six hands-on energy-related activities for kids this summer

From the outside looking in, it can appear that kids received their summer break early with the risks of COVID-19 prompting schools to close. However, the reality is that this is far from the truth.

Many parents have had no choice but to adjust to the many changes that this pandemic has required, including changed work environments. In the same way, youth are experiencing similar unsettling feelings as they navigate losing quality time with friends, losing their school routine, and losing a summer with some level of certainty. To help spark joy, creativity and learning moments at home during this difficult time, here are some fun hands-on energy-related activities you can try with your kids this summer:

  1. Fluttery butterfly experiment
    In this arts and crafts experiment, your kids will not only experience the fun of designing their own fabulous tissue paper butterfly, but they’ll also have the opportunity to proudly flap its wings through the power of static electricity. For instructions and a summary of the science behind it, click here.
     
  2. “Jumping goop” demonstration
    If making goop wasn’t already exciting enough (think “oobleck,” but by mixing cornstarch with oil instead of water), this experiment will also give your kids the thrill of making their goop jump and react using static electricity. For instructions and a summary of the science behind it, click here.
     
  3. ‘Wingardium Leviosa’: Create your very own levitating orb
    Whether your kids are avid Harry Potter fans or they want to try their hand at being the household wizard for a day, this experiment is guaranteed to delight and inspire even the most skeptical of children (and adults for that matter). In this activity, they will learn how static electricity is powerful enough to make an ‘orb’ float. For instructions and a summary of the science behind it, click here.
     
  4. Design a tabletop electromagnetic train
    Some parents and grandparents will likely have fond memories of owning a train set as a child. This exciting electromagnetic train activity will allow you to share and create new memories with your children while teaching them about how an electric current creates a magnetic field. For instructions and a summary of the science behind it, click here.
     
  5. Pencil in that graphite circuit
    Allow your children to become circuit board designers in mere minutes as they put pencil to paper. In this activity, your kids will learn about the conductive properties of graphite and how, with a carefully planned drawing, it can act as a circuit to conduct electricity from a battery to an LED. For instructions and a summary of the science behind it, click here.
     
  6. Light up cards
    Why make a pop-up card when you can make one that lights up? In this activity, kids will learn how to make a light-up circuit that fits perfectly into a birthday, holiday or thank you card. Once they have their circuit ready, they can design their card to have anything they want to light up, from rockets to robots to Rudolph. For instructions and a summary of the science behind it, click here.

Electricity is all around us and it is incredible how many connections we can make using everyday objects and ingredients. But, it’s even more exciting when these electric learning moments can help us build an even stronger connection with our kids. We hope this curated activity list helps to do just that – generating new and exciting “light bulb” moments in your household this summer.

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