In the Splash exhibit, children learn about water properties. They test the movement of water in many different ways, creating tools to move the water or move in the water. Try these activities to inspire young civil engineers.
Experiment with the differences between saltwater and freshwater.
Try floating objects in both fresh and saltwater and note the differences. Talk about where to find fresh and saltwater throughout the world.
Experiment with water’s surface tension & breaking the surface tension with liquid soap.
Try some of the simple water experiments in Water: Simple Experiments for Young Scientists by Larry White & Laurie Hamilton or Experimenting with Water by Bryan Murphy for younger children. They both can assist you in a series of water experiments.
Take your child swimming.
Talk about the differences in water pressure that you feel when you swim underwater.
Experiment together with water pressure.
Cut four small holes in a 2-quart plastic soda bottle. Then fill it with water covering the holes so the water doesn’t leak out. You’ll need to work together for this because you will need at least five hands! Then quickly uncover the holes! Out of which hole does the water spray the furthest? Talk about water pressure and how the weight of the water makes the spray go further.
Experiment with soda.
Another experiment with water pressure uses a 2-quart plastic soda bottle and a pen cap-weighted with a little bit of clay on the long thin end of the cap. Fill the bottle with water and drop the pen cap inside. Then predict what will happen when the bottle is squeezed. The pen cap should move up and down inside the bottle as outside pressure is applied and released.
Try moving things with water.
Make a water wheel together out of finding objects around the house. Experimenting with Water by Bryan Murphy can help you in creating water wheels.
Make boats out of wood, clay, sticks or paper.
Try them out on a nearby puddle, backyard pool, stream, or bathtub. The book, Projects with Water, In: Simple Science Projects, by John Williams, explores different types of boats using many materials found in a kitchen.
Experiment with solid, liquid, and gaseous states of water.
Bring snow in from outside and watch how it melts. Explore when water boils with older children. The book, Water: Science Alive, by Darlene Lauw and Lim Cheng Puay, would be a great help when experimenting with early grade school children.
Experiment with water movement like ocean currents.
Pour colored, cold water into a tub of clear warm water. Watch how the water moves. This simulates the colder and warmer currents of ocean bodies.
Experiment together with other ocean characteristics.
Check out the book, Oceans, the Hands-on Approach to Geography, In: Make it Work! Series, by Andrew Haslam & Barbara Taylor. This book would be especially helpful with 9-12-year-olds.
Make a cloud or fog in a bottle by filling a glass jar with hot water. Once the water warms the glass, pour a couple of inches of water out and place a plastic cover over the jar. Then add ice cubes on top of the plastic. Watch as the water condenses and the cold and warm airs meet. Fog or a cloud will form in the jar.
Watching water movement, anticipating what it will do and exploring water in different forms are great water activities for the very young. Try these activities to extend water experiences with toddlers.
Blow bubbles together.
Make bubble solution by gently mixing 1 cup of dishwashing soap with 5 cups of warm water. (Joy works really well). Then make bubble wands from wire or bubble pipes by making four ½ inch slits on one end of a straw and bending the straw flaps back to support the bubbles as they get bigger. Have fun!
Try blowing bubbles on a cold winter day.
Do the bubbles go up or down? Talk about why that might be happening. (Warm air will make it rise more quickly in cold weather than on a summer day).
Toddlers love to play with water!
Pour water back and forth between different shapes and sizes. Talk about how the water takes on the shape of the bucket or pitcher.
Color water together, using food coloring.
Watch the food coloring move through the bowl and mix with the water. Then use the colored water you made to paint the snow in your back yard. Clear spray bottles (or recycled spray bottles rinsed out) work well as “brushes” for outside snow painting.
Make sprinklers with your toddler.
Cut a few holes in a recycled plastic container and show him or her how to fill up the container with water and watch it sprinkle out of the holes.
Play with sponges and water.
Soaking up water and squirting it out between fingers is great fun.
Make simple boats out of plastic container lids or large sponges.
Float in a tub of water or bathtub.
Play with funnels and buckets with water.
Dump and pour is a favorite activity.
Plink Plank Plop
Make a ball path across a kitchen table and then try it out! These activities will build on that planning process.
Make a tennis ball path.
Use found objects around the house or garage to create a path.
Make a marble roll path.
Draw out a marble roll path and then make it together out of wrapping paper rolls, toilet paper rolls, and tape.
Check out games like Chinese checkers, Mouse Trap, or Kerplunk to plan actions and then see the “change of events” happen.
Make a Plinko game.
Use a 2X2 board and rows of nails – about 1 or 2 inches apart. Then use a marble or a ping pong-sized ball to travel around the nails and down the board.