Quick Science Experiments For 2nd Graders – These days are strange. So many different things. While many of us are facing a new world of stress and uncertainty, it’s nice to find a silver lining sometimes.
With so much extra time at home with the kids, it’s a great time to teach our teenagers some life lessons and educational tidbits that are often pushed to the wayside during “regular work hours.”
Quick Science Experiments For 2nd Graders
In our house we have been cooking and baking together more than usual and even started teaching our children to clean the bathroom last weekend.
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We also have time for more creative projects and experiments. Today I want to share three fun and educational sustainability activities you can do with your kids, including teenagers.
I promise they are more exciting than cleaning the toilet and maybe even more fun than baking brownies.
As we share with children the importance of reducing waste and caring for the environment, these three experiments capture the science behind our sustainability mission.
Jess is a former high school chemistry teacher and mother of two. On his Instagram account, he shares his Weekly Sustainability Science Week experiment.
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Many of the lessons include programs in English and Spanish, to help teachers and parents explore the science behind sustainability and green living with their children and students.
The lesson plans are free, linked to the US Science Standards and Common Core Standards for ELA and Math, including information on materials needed, and any set-up needed (although most of the experiments require little preparation).
Not only are they great for science skills, but they are the perfect conversation starters for discussing environmental issues with children in a way that is accessible to them.
A few weeks ago we tried a food waste audit to track how much perfectly good food ended up in our bins or compost bins.
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It’s quite remarkable how much we can learn about our unconscious behavior when we start observing it.
With the food waste audit, my children became more aware of how much food they waste.
Each person in our family is responsible for writing down their own food waste, which adds an additional element of individual responsibility.
Experiments also give them the opportunity to practice science and math skills such as measuring volumes, tracking activities, creating and maintaining data tables, and more.
Simple Sustainability Science Experiments To Do At Home With Kids
The World Resources Institute stated that “if the loss of food and waste was the country itself, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world – only surpassed by the United States and China.” (source)
When food is placed in the trash and sent to a landfill, it breaks down anaerobically, meaning the absence of oxygen.
This decomposition process produces carbon dioxide and methane gas. When food is composted or breaks down naturally (like an apple that falls from a tree and rots in the ground), it breaks down aerobically, meaning in the presence of oxygen.
Scientists have determined that this gas is very good at trapping heat in our atmosphere—about twenty-five times better than carbon dioxide.
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Because methane traps heat, combined with its age in our atmosphere, it is a key player in raising our global temperature, causing our climate to change.
However, to avoid food waste, you must first identify what is wasted in your household.
That’s where this experiment comes into play. By logging everything you throw away during the week, you will know better where your food waste comes from and can then work out how to reduce this misuse of nutrients.
It’s a great way to remind us that what we initially see as trash isn’t necessarily trash. “Leftovers” from our food can be used for many things like growing food scraps, composting, eating chicken and more.
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In this experiment, Jess showed us how a certain type of pot scraps food and watch it grow. In his curriculum, he included skills such as observation, measurement, creating graphs and analyzing data.
Your kids can try to come up with a hypothesis before you start the experiment and guess along the way about what will happen next.
As mentioned earlier, when food scraps are thrown into the garbage and sent to the landfill, a gas called methane is produced.
These gases are very good at absorbing heat in our atmosphere. Because more heat is trapped, the Earth’s climate changes, affecting the plants and animals, including humans, that live there.
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Planning meals ahead of time with your family, donating or sharing food you don’t plan on eating, eating leftovers, freezing leftovers to make soups, repurposing leftovers, and composting are ways to save food from going to waste.
In this lesson, you will learn how to grow vegetables from garbage, observe their growth for 2 weeks, and discuss the ecological importance of reducing food waste.
Decomposing food properly with oxygen in a compost bin is a completely different process than decomposing food in a landfill without oxygen.
Jess uses this experiment to show us how different foods produce different amounts of greenhouse gases when sent to landfill.
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By choosing different types of food, (as some foods tend to produce more gas during decomposition than others) you will be able to monitor the chemical breakdown of each food source and the relative amount of gas produced.
By completely filling each test bottle with water, you create an anaerobic (oxygen-deficient) environment that mimics the original conditions found in a landfill. You will be surprised how quickly some balloons inflate!
This experiment can lead you and your students to explore what type of landfill your trash can be.
Is it a methane recovery landfill, where the methane produced is captured and used to generate electricity, thus reducing some of the landfill’s negative impacts?
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Or is your waste going to a traditional landfill that doesn’t capture the gas it produces?
Or maybe your waste does not go to the landfill at all, but to incineration? Researching what’s happening in your community can be a gateway to shaping young students into environmental stewards.
All three of these experiments are very interesting for children and adults and can be set up in just a few minutes with materials you may already have at home.
We learned last year that our youth may be our best hope to inspire our leaders to effect change.
Very Simple Science Experiments (using What You Already Have At Home!)
We can teach kids about the importance of the environment through environmental books, educational podcasts, school programs and more.
But by letting them experiment with science, it allows global issues to become local, making for more effective lessons.
By educating young people about the science behind why sustainability is important, we can hopefully get them to advocate more effectively for the planet (and stay healthy while quarantined at home in the process).
GUEST POST: Jen Panaro is a self-proclaimed compost geek and advocate for environmental living for the modern family. On her blog, Honest Modern, she shares her ideas on how families can incorporate waste-free and sustainable practices into their everyday lives. She is a serial librarian, messy gardener, curator of the Bring Your Trash To Life series, and mother of two boys. In addition, he may or may not spend an inordinate amount of time admiring the industrious worms in his compost bin. the jury is still out on the case.
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GUEST POST: Jess Purcell is a chemistry teacher turned stay-at-home mom who is passionate about explaining the science of sustainable living. He is the creator of #sustainabilitysciencesunday, a weekly series on Instagram featuring simple sustainability science experiments you can do at home. Jess lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, and two cats, and she can usually be found outside, either digging in her garden, walking with her family, or trying to read a book while drawn into a game of hide-and-seek. You can find her on Instagram @thoughtfullysustainable.
I’m so glad you’re here! I hope you will join me on my zero waste journey. I focus on keeping things simple, easy and most importantly positive! Looking for a simple science experiment to do at home with your kids? Maybe you need ideas for summer or rainy days. This is the coolest science project I’ve come across that is unique, magical, and uses only household items.
I love seeing the look of wonder on the kids’ faces, but as a former teacher, I love knowing they’re learning too.
Remember the lava lamp you had as a child? With just a little food coloring, vegetable oil, and alka seltzer, your kids will be playing with this in no time. This is a simple DIY experiment.
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Ready for fireworks…in milk? Yes, you read that right. Watch this food coloring explode and flow before your eyes. You should try this miracle milk experiment using only milk, food coloring and dish soap.
In this cool science experiment from Look We’re Learning, kids will learn about the principle of refraction.
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