Pumpkin Science To Float or Not to Float?

Pumpkin Science To Float or Not to Float?

In kindergarten, young scientists make lots of predictions. Not only is it a core science curriculum skill, but it can also be downright fun when it’s tied into seasonal adventures. And fall is as great a time as any to be a scientist. But this experiment can be done any time of the year. Here’s a great activity about exploratory science that challenges your child to make predictions and discover relative size, density, and buoyancy with… pumpkins!

What You Need:

  • Piece of string about the length of your arm
  • 3 different sized pumpkins
  • Scissors
  • Bath tub of water or large bucket filled with water

What You Do:

  1. Use the string to measure the size of your child’s head, then cut it.
  2. Go to you local pumpkin patch or grocery store.
  3. Observe the pumpkins. Ask your child to make a some educated guesses about the size of the pumpkins: for instance, does he think his head is smaller, the same size, or larger than the pumpkin you are holding?
  4. Find different-sized pumpkins and have him make that comparison again. Then use the string you measured earlier to discover whether your child is correct.
  5. Select your favorite three pumpkins, and bring them home.
  6. Fill your bathtub with water. For this next part, you will be placing the pumpkins in the water one at a time to see if they float.
  7. Take one of your pumpkins, and ask your child if he thinks it will float or sink. Why does he think that? Place the pumpkin in the water and talk about the results.
  8. Repeat Step 7 for each pumpkin, making sure to allow your child to predict what will happen and to discuss the results afterwards.
  9. Discuss with your child why the pumpkins floated regardless of size. (The answer? Pumpkins are hollow objects, and there is enough air trapped in the center of the pumpkin that it floats.)
  10. To extend the activity, get a jack o’ lantern to experiment on. Ask your child to predict what would happen if you immersed the jack o’ lantern into the water. Now lower the jack o’ lantern into the water. What happened? Why did the jack ‘o lantern sink? (The answer? The open cuts in the pumpkin let water into the open cavity, which sunk the pumpkin.)

What’s Going On?

For kindergarten students, relative size, density and buoyancy are all huge concepts. It may seem obvious to us, for example, whether a pumpkin is bigger or smaller than someone’s head, or why a pumpkin might float, but for a kindergarten, it can be a revelation. The more fun you can have with all this the better, because without even realizing it, kids are practicing the crucial science skills of measurement, prediction, experimentation, and reasoning.

pumpkin-science-kinder-slide

Cardboard Bugs

Cardboard Bugs

Reuse and recycle cardboard tubes to make spooky spiders, kooky caterpillars, wacky worms, and more. Treat your budding entomologist to this sculptural science activity that will allow him to research insects, arachnids, and other creepy crawlies. Turn this artful insect into a Halloween themed decoration, and display his unique buggy creations during a family holiday party or for trick-or-treaters to enjoy!

The Cardboard Tube Critter activity will help your child to learn about the wonderful world of bugs as he also focuses on simple elements of art. He’ll explore three dimensional form, color, texture, and pattern during this exciting art project. Encourage imaginative thought and creative problem solving skills as he designs and constructs his very own sculptural critter.

What You Need:

  • Cardboard tube
  • Pom poms
  • Clear drying, non-toxic school glue
  • Tempera paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Sequins
  • Modeling clay (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Research insects. Find a variety of non-fiction books to look at, or search the web for useful insect information. Make sure to view multiple pictures and photographs of bugs. Ask your child to talk about what he sees. How many legs does a spider have? What do a fly’s eyes look like? What color is a grass hopper?
  2. Decide on one bug to start with. Ask your child to think about the body parts that are needed. Is there a head, thorax, and abdomen? How many legs are there? Does this bug have wings, antennae, or other special features?
  3. Have your child paint the cardboard tube a base color. For example, if he is creating a grasshopper the tube should be green, a spider might be brown or black, and a lady bug could be red.
  4. After the paint has dried, he can begin adding details. Use a large pom pom and glue to create a head. Eyes can be made with sequins and glue. Use additional pom poms for other body parts. If he is making a bug such as a caterpillar, he may want to add multiple pom poms in a row.
  5. Create antennas and legs by gluing on cut pieces of pipe cleaner. If you notice the pipe cleaner falling off, first attach a small piece of modeling clay to the tube with glue. Press the end of the pipe cleaner in to stabilize it. Alternatively, you can press the pipe cleaner through the tube or cut a small hole to fit.
  6. Add wings and other features with cut tissue paper and glue.
  7. Set aside to dry.

Display as a creepy crawly Halloween decoration!

cardboard-tube-critters-slide