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Summer Science Projects

From July through the middle of August I am working on a variety of projects that mostly involve curriculum and lesson planning. Like my kids I need more activity. With a little creativity and some fun web sites I think I can find a way to be active, engage some of my family and make something that will be useful next year in class.

I thought I would start with bird feeders. A few years back we did a project on bats and insects. Bats are amazing helpers in the control of flying insects. Since the flooding will leave us with more mosquitoes than usual bat houses would be an amazing addition to my backyard and to the nature center outside school.  There is an organization for bat conservation and their web site seems to have a good simple set of plans.
http://www.batconservation.org/drupal/lp/bat-house-2?gclid=CNvX_Le36KkCFUTBKgodPR5HXw

The best way to approach this is to gather plenty of the needed materials and invite some other teachers or friends and neighbors so that you have lots of tools and plenty of helping hands for any kids who are working with you. I have a huge batch of lemonade, some cookies or chips and tables set out for the construction. The idea is that everyone leaves with at least one bat house for their homes and we make 7 or 8 extra for the school. This works for any construction project. A few years back we made bubble walls. We cranked out 15 bubble walls in about 2 hours and the lemonade was spectacular.
I can build water rockets, solar ovens, work farms, composters, or even water wheels. I do want to have a mix of build it projects and more simple activities. For that I volunteered to organize a nature scavenger hunt for one of the local churches. The scavenger hunt is simple and I get a chance to work the kinks out of the hunt with a willing group of wonderful kids who are ready to get outside and explore. There are several good sources for scavenger hunt plans.
http://www.hometrainingtools.com/nature-hunt-project/a/1341/ Where possible I will have the kids bring some nature artifacts back for a display that will go with me to school next year as an example. This makes an excellent science center or a bulletin board.

I have been toying with a fountain for the school garden for quite some time. A few months back a friend donated a pump and tubing. I think that moving water will be an excellent project for some energetic kids guided by an inquisitive teacher in the heat of August. Water projects are always good in the hot months. Moving water from a pool through a pump and up in such a way so that the water falls in an interesting way back to the pump is a bit of engineering. I have tried before and had some less than esthetic results. I have a pile of rocks and some students who really want a project to tackle so we may give that a try. If you would like to engage in a little water fun check out these sites for guidance.
http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,20050351,00.html
http://www.sunset.com/garden/backyard-projects/how-to-make-soothing-fountain-00400000046264/

Just the act of figuring out the site and arranging the different parts not only provides some interesting complex thinking, the summer provides times for those casual conversations about science that have nothing to do with grades or tests or paperwork. These times are pure science and the most valuable relationship builders. After all, the center of all teaching is just that, relationships. Have a good summer.

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