Check out this page daily for Science, Technology, Engineering, Environmental Education, and Math activities for your camper planned out by CK Staff! Supplies should be easy to find around your house or yard!
Engineering Challenge: Hoop Gliders *credit to sciencebob.com for this fantastic activity*
- 1 straw
- index card or other stiff paper
- Cut the index card or stiff paper into 3 separate pieces that measure 1 inch (2.5 cm) by 5 inches (13 cm.)
- Take 2 of the pieces of paper and tape them together into a hoop as shown. Be sure to overlap the pieces about half an inch (1 cm) so that they keep a nice round shape once taped.
- Use the last strip of paper to make a smaller hoop, overlapping the edges a bit like before.
- Tape the paper loops to the ends of the straw as shown below. (notice that the straw is lined up on the inside of the loops)
- hat’s it! Now hold the straw in the middle with the hoops on top and throw it in the air similar to how you might throw a dart angled slightly up. With some practice you can get it to go farther than many paper airplanes.
- How does it work?
Can we really call that a plane? It may look weird, but you will discover it flies surprisingly well. The two sizes of hoops help to keep the straw balanced as it flies. The big hoop creates “drag” (or air resistance) which helps keep the straw level while the smaller hoop in at the front keeps your super hooper from turning off course. Some have asked why the plane does not turn over since the hoops are heavier than the straw. Since objects of different weight generally fall at the same speed, the hoop will keep its “upright” position. Let us know how far you were able to get the hoop glider to fly.
- 1. Does the placement of the hoops on the straw affect its flight distance?
- 2. Does the length of straw affect the flight? (You can cut the straws or attach straws together to test this)
- 3. Do more hoops help the hoop glider to fly better?
- 4. Do the hoops have to be lined up in order for the plane to fly well?
- 5. Can you design a better glider?
Activity: Pitfall Trap
- Container (e.g. tin can, yogurt container, coffee can, plastic cup, small plastic bin)
- Trowel or shovel
- A place in your yard to dig a hole the size of your container
- Leaves, sticks, dirt
- Ideally you should catch some insects and other small creatures – having a glass jar or tank to put them in for observations can be helpful
- Obtain a container you can leave outside overnight in the ground.
- Find a spot near dead wood or tall vegetation. Areas with short grass is less ideal.
- Use a trowel or shovel to dig a hole in the ground. You want the hole to be big enough to place your container in.
- The top of the lid should be flush with the ground. If it is above the ground, it can prevent creatures from falling in.
- Make a layer of leaves, sticks, and soil in the bottom of your container for any creatures to take refuge in.
- Many small invertebrates are more active at night, so leave your container overnight and check it in the morning.
- Take some observations of what you found or did not find!
- Send us pictures of anything you caught!
- If you catch creatures, make sure to be gentle while handling them and release them in a safe spot.
Activity: Soap Powered Boat
- Cardboard (can use corrugated cardboard or something lighter like a cereal box)
- Writing utensil
- Dish soap
- Container with water (e.g. baking dish, bin, tray)
- Optional: stopwatch
- Draw the design below for your boat on a piece of cardboard.
- A boat 2” long should work well.
- Cut out your boat.
- Name your boat!
- Use a container to make a body of water.
- Fill a small cup with some dish soap.
- Use something like a toothpick to apply dish soap to the rear, outside corners of your boat.
- If doing a time trial, coordinate with your timing official.
- Place the boat at one end of the container, and watch it sail to the other side!
- My boat traveled the length of the container (10 inches or 25.4 cm) in about 2 seconds, which equates to 0.127 meters per second or 0.284 miles per hour!
- The water in the bin must be changed after each trial, so it is soap free.
- Can you design a faster boat than the design you were given?
Activity: Butterfly Glider
- 4×6 index card, cardstock, or cereal box (some sort of stiff paper)
- Scotch tape
- Coloring utensils
- 3 paper clips
- Fold paper in half the hamburger way.
- Trace the wings of the butterfly, beginning at the folded edge. Additionally, trace a keel for the butterfly.
- Cut out wings and keel (not pictured below).
- Decorate the wings of your butterfly!
- Take 2 of your paper clips, and bend them.
- Tape these 2 paper clips to the underside of your butterfly. These are the antennae.
- Tape the keel to the bottom of your butterfly.
- Bend the last paper clip like the others. This will be taped along the underside of the butterfly to keep the wings open.
- Now that you’ve completed your butterfly, try throwing it. How far does it fly?
- Monarch butterflies aren’t currently in Maine, as they’re ending their overwintering period in Mexico. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited about seeing them this summer! It takes monarchs 3-4 generations for them to fly from Mexico to Maine. They can fly up 50-100 miles per day, and the longest known flight of a monarch in a day is 265 miles.
- Time for you to test your butterfly’s long distance flight ability. How far can your butterfly travel in 4 generations (4 throws)? Throw your butterfly once, and from where it lands throw it a second time, and repeat two more times.
- Can your butterfly make it back to where it started in the same number of throws?
Activity: Tin Can Bird Feeder
- Tin can
- Can opener
- Stick or popsicle stick (platform for bird to rest on)
- Paint, paint brushes
- Method of attaching stick (hot glue, super glue)
- String/twine and method of attaching it to can
- E.g. wrapping it around can, or drilling holes in can
- Remove lid from can using can opener
- If there are any sharp burrs after removing lid, using pliers to crush them or file them down
- Glue a popsicle stick to the inside of the can, with it partially sticking out. This will serve as a platform for the bird to rest on.
- Cut down another popsicle stick (or 2) to glue to the front of the can, to help keep the bird seed inside the can.
- Give it a coat of paint and let it dry
- While it’s drying, try to identify 3 birds outside!
- Can use an app (Merlin Bird, ebird, iNaturalist) or field book
- Give it a second coat of paint and let it dry.
- Decorate it!
- Attach some string to it (twine works well).
- Put bird seed in it, then hang it outside.
- Sprinkle bird seed on the ground by the feeder to help attract birds to it.
How long will it take birds to visit your bird feeder? Follow the Rule of 2s: “The Rule of 2s is that it might take 2 seconds, 2 minutes, 2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks, even 2 months for birds to use a new feeder! It depends on many things such as feeder placement, the type of feeder, the quality of the food, bird population in your area, weather, predators, and more.”
-Mixing Earth Materials in a Jar Science Activity for Kids
Hands-on exploration of earth materials combines outdoor play with scientific discovery. This simple science activity gets you digging for clues as you collect raw materials to mix in a jar.
When kids have opportunities to get outside and explore nature they will stuff their pockets with pine cones, search under rocks for creepy crawlies, and want to bring everything home!
They will probably want to experiment with materials and ask a lot of questions too.
This mixing raw materials activity is easy to do with kids, and promotes observation and discovery.
Collect SAND, SOIL and STONES in separate containers.
Add the materials to the bottle in layers. A plastic peanut butter jar that seals tightly works well.
Add water to cover the materials well. SHAKE! When the materials are mixed, slowly turn the jar.
Can you still see each of the materials you added?
Let the jar stand for a few minutes. Observe how the materials separate as they settle.
Can you see some materials that you didn’t notice before in the sand, soil or rocks?
Slowly empty the jar. The sand and other embedded materials will flow out with the water. Some wet sand sticks to the bottom. Add more water, shake the jar, and pour.
Science activities promote wonder, exploration, and discovery.
Learning through play
- Before the water is added:
Make predictions about what will happen when a) the dry materials are mixed together b) the water is added c) the mixture settles.
- After the water is added:
Observe which of the materials you can see after the mixture settles. Sometimes the soil will have small sticks or other materials that remain floating in the water.
Is there any new material that you didn’t notice before?
Is the water muddy or clear? How much time does it take for the water to become reasonably clear?
Why did the sand stick to the bottom of the jar when the water was poured out?
Measure and weigh one cup of dry sand in a container and an equal amount of wet sand in another container. Which weighs more?
-Water Bug Hunting
Water bugs are aquatic macroinvertebrates. They are small animals that live in the water and are just big enough to see with the naked eye. Many water bugs are insects but they can also include worms, mollusks and crustaceans.
Here’s how to explore the freshwater creeks and ponds for macroinvertebrates.
If you don’t live near a body of water try a visit to Camp Ketcha’s pond.
What to take water bug hunting:
- fish nets
- white ice cube tray and paint tray
- magnifying glass
- pipette and spoon
- paint brush
- White container
How to find Water Bugs
There are a few ways you can catch water bugs but first you’ll need to fill your containers with water from the pond. Try to collect it before your children start to dip their toes in the creek and muddy up the water.
-Pick up stones
Pick up a stone or rock that’s submerged under the water, turn it over and use a paintbrush to gently brush the bugs into the containers of water.
-Skim with nets
Use a fish net to catch water bugs by gently scraping through the water as close to the bottom of the creek as you can without collecting too much debris. Tip the contents of the fish net into a large white container and sift through the debris to find the macroinvertebrates. If you brush the leaf as you take them out, you’ll start to see lots of movement on the bottom of the container.
If the water bugs are small and you want a closer inspection, you can use the pipette or spoon to pick them up and place them in their own section of the ice cube or paint tray. Take a closer look with a magnifying glass.
-Explore the surroundings
Water bugs can be found around and on the water too. Including water striders, dragonflies, a fishing spider and mosquitoes! Waterbugs-Poster-River-Detectives-2018
-Build a nature sculpture
Building nature sculptures is one of many great outdoor STEM activities to get kid’s creative juices flowing. Wherever you find yourself outside you will have just what you need to build some clever and aesthetically pleasing artwork.
Just remember that sticks, leaves, rocks, etc. are parts of natural ecosystems and habitats as you collect art supplies, so you may want to return them to where you found them when finished. Challenge kids to use natural materials to meet specific building criteria. Try these engineering challenges:
Design and build a sculpture that can hold water
Design and build a sculpture made of round rocks, stacked at least 4 rocks high
Design and build a woven sculpture
Design and build a sculpture that is an inverted pyramid- where the small pieces are on the bottom and the large ones are on the top!
Design and build a sculpture made of leaves.
Design and build a wall either of sticks or rocks that is sturdy enough for you to sit on.
Design and build a tower made of sticks that can hold a rock the size of your fist on top.
Design and build a sturdy log cabin structure.
*SPECIAL SNOWDAY ACTIVITY* If you’ve ever sent your camper to one of our snowday camps they’ve probably told you about Snow Ice Cream! Here is the recipe we use. Make sure to use clean snow and play around with flavors! We’ve used jam, hot chocolate mix, and maple syrup!
Race against your family or the clock to fill your bingo card or get 4 in a row!