Earth Day Science

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

On April 21st (the day before Earth Day), the Science Museum of Minnesota will celebrate Earth Day and open their new Future Earthexhibit to the public.  Exploring the amazing planet that nurtures and sustains us, the thought-provoking exhibit examines climate science, looks at the impact of humans, and considers Earth’s future.  Today’s young people will play an essential role in determining that future, and it’s essential that we raise our kids to be critical thinkers, as well as creators and innovators! Abby Harrison, a.k.a. Astronaut Abby, wants to be the first person on Mars and she visited Kare11 Sunrise news with me to talk about NASA and Earth Day.

Every time you encourage a kid to ask “why?” or get them out into nature, you’re engaging their scientific brains!  When they see you recycle, turn out the lights, walk instead of drive, or pick up a piece of trash, you’re teaching them lessons about stewardship and responsibility.

Here are some easy experiments that would be fun to do with your kids to help celebrate Earth Day. If you click on the experiment name, it will take you to directions and photos!

Window Sprouts: Plant a bean in a plastic baggie with a damp paper towel and see how plants need only water and air to sprout roots and leaves.  Here’s a short video demonstrating how to put a window garden together.

Homemade Solar Oven: Using a pizza box, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and newspaper, you can harness the sun’s energy to cook your own S’mores! Try it!

Nature Walk Bracelets: Wrap some duct tape around your wrist (inside out) and take a walk, sticking interesting natural objects like leaves and flowers to your bracelet. It’s a great way to get outdoors and engage with nature!

Carbon Dioxide and Ocean Acidity: See for yourself how the carbon dioxide in your own breath can make a water-based solution more acidic. It’s the same reason too much carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere can be bad for our oceans.

Composting: Be a composting detective. Bury some things in your back yard (away from power cables) and dig them up in a few months to see how they look. Composting reduces methane gas emissions (a greenhouse gas) from dumps.

Diffusion and Osmosis: See for yourself how chemicals we add to water, put on our streets to melt ice, and spray on our lawns and crops can move into our soil, ground water, rivers, lakes and oceans.

Solar Water Purification: Another great illustration of the greenhouse effect and a fun experiment in general.  Requires hot sun and some patience!

To continue to thrive, we’ll need countless innovations in energy, agriculture, health and environmental stewardship.  Our children are our greatest natural resource, and we will depend on them to make a better future for us all.  It’s up to us to nurture them, educate them, foster their innate sense of curiosity and fan their creative spark.  Happy Earth Day!

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