10 Replies Latest reply on Oct 5, 2017 4:47 PM by ntewinkel

    Practical Science Ideas for Primary School Kids




      I thought I'd ask on the community, long story short, I have a family member in another country who is a primary school teacher. Resources are tight, and she's looking for the best way to teach children science. She was thinking of Youtube videos, but I'm thinking practical experiments using easy-to-find objects like batteries, wires, thermometer, multi-meter, calculator, ruler, magnets, LEDs, bicycle pumps and coca-cola bottles, etc.


      I noticed there are very few Kindle books on the topic, and the few seem just "average" from the previews. It actually seems a major shortcoming. There are plenty of schools in less fortunate parts of the world, and science experiments would really get kids excited I think.


      If it doesn't already exist, I'm thinking of preparing a 'primary school lab' list of simple experiments and the items that could be useful, or a URL to more information. I can think of dozens of experiments (perhaps a hundred experiments) but surely there are good resources with this already. I'd rather just point her to a book or website if resources like this already exist.


      Cost is an issue, so no experiments needing (say) large heavy microscopes, but a magnifier lens is ok. No bunsen burner connected to a supply, but a candle or ethanol burner is fine, and so on.

      What are some good websites, or books, for such experiments? For sub-10-year-olds.

      What resources do you use for teaching kids? If youtube videos, which ones?


      Is it worthwhile maintaining such a list? If so, perhaps we can do so in the comments below, as an in-progress list.

      Here are some examples for such a list:


      electromagnet - wire, battery

      radio transmitter - wire, battery, AM radio as receiver

      flashing fire engine light - wire, battery, lamp, foil, toy fire engine

      compass - pins, magnet

      mini xmas tree lights - bag of LEDs, some resistors and a (say) 12V battery

      intercom communication - two speakers and twin wire

      electrostatics - balloons

      generator - toy motor and lamp


      Many thanks!

        • Re: Practical Science Ideas for Primary School Kids

          That sounds like a great idea, Shabaz!


          I wonder if a wikipedia type setup would work well for that?


          Or maybe working with an existing platform like Instructables or Hackster.


          Then it just comes down to individuals adding their experiments as they come up.


          In terms of content, I've seen some 1970's style books in different used-book sales that had the type of things you are looking for. I had a science-for-kids one that was perfect... I wonder if it's still here somewhere or if I got rid of it already. I'm assuming copyright is not an issue at that age.




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          • Re: Practical Science Ideas for Primary School Kids

            Hi Shabaz,


            Experiment 1

            Requires an ice cube, a string, and some salt.

            Question to the children: How can you pick up the ice cube without touching it using just the string and the salt?

            Answer: Place the string on top of the ice cube and sprinkle some salt on it. The salt melts some of the ice as the temperature of freezing the salt water drops. This is an endothermic phase change so some of the non-salty water refreezes and this hopefully freezes the string to the ice and allows it to be picked up off the table.

            The science discussion can include heat as a form of energy. Phase change of water from solid to liquid to gas. The effect of how things like salt can change the freezing point. Even how they used to make ice cream before commercial refrigeration was available.


            Experiment 2

            Requires 2 marbles and a child with a good ability to shoot them. A small ramp that the teacher can aim is perhaps a better choice than my first suggestion.


            Variation one:

            Discuss elastic collisions and get the children to predict what will happen when the marbles collide at different angles.


            Variation two:

            Place one marble on the edge of the table and shoot the other marble at it so that one falls nearly straight down and the other continues off the table ballisticly. Get the children to predict which one will hit the floor first. Discuss how objects fall and the greater effect of air resistance on some objects which lead to the incorrect belief that heavier object fall faster.


            (Marbles are great for demonstrating all types of things)


            Experiment 3

            Requires small paper circle, a pencil, 3 crayons ( Red, Blue, Yellow), and some tape or glue.


            Draw alternating bands of color on the disk until you have a complete wheel of Red - Blue - Yellow repeated around it. Attach the disk to the pencil with glue or tape so that you can roll the pencil between your hands and thus spin the disk. You should be able to make the disk appear fairly white by doing this as a mixture of those colors reflected into our eyes is interpreted as White. By using just 2 of the colors in different proportions you can produce many other colors in this fashion too.


            Discussion about color and our perception of it.


            I bet the other guys on the forum can come up with tons of these that your family member can use that do not require anything but simple props.



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            • Re: Practical Science Ideas for Primary School Kids
              Duncan Fraser

              My favorite experiment in school was the simple water rocket. Give each of the students an empty water bottle and have them turn it into a rocket. show them a unmodified bottle going up first, then theirs and talk about the results.


              Or a variation, again using a water bottle. Is put a little propane/butane or even ethanol (just need to shake it to try an vaporize is) then introduce a small flame at the opening. Compare to doing the same with a bottle with a larger opening. 

              2 of 2 people found this helpful
                • Re: Practical Science Ideas for Primary School Kids

                  >My favorite experiment in school was the simple water rocket.

                  Totally! Still fun. Add pressure using a bicycle pump and see it fly!


                  That reminds me of our own unauthorized dart/rocket experiments in junior school.


                  Basically, take a pencil and use some clear tape to add fins to the back. It flies straight and stable like a dart.

                  That can be applied as a rocket design experiment in that a pencil by itself makes a very poor dart.

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                • Re: Practical Science Ideas for Primary School Kids

                  Hi Shabaz,


                  The TES website (UK) is a good source of all sort of teaching resources (worksheets, presentations, books). Although typically you would have to buy the resources, there are plenty of freely accessible ones as well, downloadable upon signing up to the site.

                  Here is a link to a sample query on the TES website, to get a list of free science experiments activities/games, as an example of what you can find there.

                  I hope this helps.


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                  • Re: Practical Science Ideas for Primary School Kids

                    Pico Technology maintains a list of science type experiments:


                    Mainly aimed at data acquisition, but may give some ideas.


                    David Harrison at the University of Toronto created a load of nice online interactive animations for Physics:


                    1 of 1 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Practical Science Ideas for Primary School Kids

                      Hi Shabaz,


                      When I was in High School, I had subscribed to a science project company that sent me a new kit each month which included things like basic tube radio, spectroscopy, mechanical systems, color filters, lenses and prisms, all of which helped me better understand what was happening with the technology of the day.


                      Let me dig into my old stash, I might still have the manuals for these kits.

                      If so, you could use them as a basis to define an updated STEM series for kids today.


                      Might be a cool thing to crowd source.



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                      • Re: Practical Science Ideas for Primary School Kids

                        I seem to recall that the Hamlyn's "All Colour Science Encyclopaedia" I had as a child used to have some practical experiments. Probably long out of print though .


                        However this more recent Dorling Kindersley "101 Great Science Experiments" book may be of interest:


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                        • Re: Practical Science Ideas for Primary School Kids

                          Hi ntewinkel jw0752 djfraz gecoz beacon_dave @DAB thanks so much for this detailed information.

                          I'm sure all this will help her devise some great lessons in her school - the ideas here are so fantastic, I want to try some of these science experiments

                          I'm sure all this information will be useful to other teachers too that are in a similar dilemma.

                          • Re: Practical Science Ideas for Primary School Kids

                            Also just remembered: https://www.khanacademy.org/  Khan Academy is great for school aged children.

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