We’ve put together a list of our 3 favourite hands-on activities to empower children to help the planet.
Earth Day Pollution Solution
What You Need:
Tub of water
What to Do:
Children often think that if oil spills into the ocean, it could be easily scooped out of it with buckets. This is an experiment which will change their minds. Encourage your children to “pollute” a tub of water with cooking oil and glitter, and then use various supplies to try to remove the oil. They will soon figure out that the cotton-based material is useless and that the cotton fibres will not hold on to the oil. Will the fabric squares work any better? Ask them to place feathers (to represent birds) in their tubs and to observe as the oil-coated feathers sink.
Afterward, watch online videos showing how volunteers use dish detergent to clean up oil-covered animals in real-life oil spills. Repeated the experiment with the detergent, your children will be amazing at the result.
Earth Day Science: Crystallization
This activity takes time and requires a quite a few components but it will hopefully encourage your children to take an interest in how the world continues to change and evolve. Discuss global warming with older children.
What you need:
Plastic or glass container
Craft stick or spoon
Drying rack or newspaper
What to do:
Geodes can be grown without using egg dye. The resulting crystals are clear to milky white, like quartz. While large chicken eggshells are suggested in this process, larger eggshells can be used. Simply increase the size of the plastic or glass container and double or triple the amounts of dye (1 packet), alum (3/4 part), and water (2 parts) used to create the growing solution.
This science project shows kids how the natural crystallization process works. You can also buy ready-made Crystal Egg Geode kits available from Professor Figgy’s Fabulous Science Kits at professorfiggy.com.
Start by blowing out a large white chicken egg and splitting it in half, lengthwise. The egg can be cracked by striking it against a surface or cut with a small pair of scissors. Make sure the inside of the eggshell is clean and dry.
With a small paintbrush, apply white glue to the inside and cracked edges of each half of the eggshell and sprinkle with alum powder until completely coated. Set eggshell halves aside to dry overnight.
The next day, prepare your growing solution in a glass or plastic container by using a craft stick or spoon to mix 2 cups of very hot water (almost boiling) with an entire packet of powdered egg dye. Be sure to wear latex gloves to protect your hands from the dye.Tip: Liquid food colouring can also be used to dye the geode — 30 to 40 drops will adequately saturate the solution.
Add 3/4 cup of alum powder to the hot dye bath and stir until completely dissolved. If there are remaining crystals in the bottom of the container, place the solution in the microwave for a few minutes to dissolve them. This will prevent alum from being drawn away from the geode.
Once the alum is completely dissolved, let the solution cool slightly (for about 30 minutes) and then submerge one of the dried, alum-coated eggshells in the growing solution, allowing it to rest on the bottom of the container with the inside of the shell facing up.
Set the container aside in a safe place overnight to allow the crystals to grow undisturbed. The longer the eggshell is in the solution, the larger the crystals in the geode will be. Twelve to 15 hours will usually result in a perfect geode.
The next day, remove the geode from the growing solution very carefully (as wet crystals are quite fragile), being sure to wear latex gloves to prevent the dye from staining your hands. If you are not satisfied with the size of your geode crystals, return the geode to the growing solution and wait a day or two. As water evaporates from the solution, more alum will be deposited in your geode, increasing the size of the crystals.
Place your geode on a drying rack or newspaper and allow to dry completely before handling.
To grow a second geode in the other half of the eggshell, simply re-dissolve the crystals remaining at the bottom of the growing solution in the microwave and follow the instructions above starting at step 5.
(Source The Martha Stuart Show)
Earth Day Picnic
What You Need:
What to Do:
Show your children how to reduce the trash generated by their lunches. Instructed them to pack their lunches as usual for day one of the activity. As they eat, ask them to keep track of how many pieces of trash they threw out. For day two, help your children to pack their lunches as free of trash-generating items as possible. Think of things like reusable containers. On day two, ask your children to count the trash from their second lunch and see how they compare. Or for older children set a competition: “Who can pack their lunch with the least amount of waste? Winner gets an ice-cream!”
For unavoidable waste, see if there’s anything fun you can do with it, like make a collage. Most kids love an outing to the park, so this task doesn’t have to seem like a chore, work in a game of catch or soccer.