Do-It-Yourself Hands-On Science for Kids Program

Fizz“Hands-on Science for Kids” is a good program for any library at any time of year, and it goes with the 2014 Summer Reading Theme “Fizz, Boom, Read!”  With more emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) in school curriculums, this type of fun hands-on science program will attract a wide age range of participants.

For this do-it-yourself library program, you should plan several volunteer-run stations. For example, several science-themed games and crafts could be set up in the library’s outdoor area for this program.  Each table should have at least 2 high school volunteers to run the activity at that station. If you run out of materials at a station, just close it.

The high school Interact club or Octagon Club could send the needed volunteers to man each station.

Refreshments of watermelon slices could be provided by the Friends of the Library.  Community partners such as The Lawrence Hall of Science (Berkeley) could give you free passes for any child who attends this event.

Icebreaker activity:  Dress in your lab coat, and open with a few fun picture books that depict something from astronomy, chemistry, or other sciences. For example:

MousetronautKelly, Mark. Mousetronaut: Based on a (Partially) True Story.  Meteor the Mouse joins the crew of a space shuttle, and helps out in a rescue mission. Also check out Mousetronaut Goes to Mars.

Plourde, Lynn. Science Fair Day. Ima is inquisitive, which is great for a scientist but could spell disaster for a student at the school’s science fair.


Make a model of Pluto and its moon, as seen here:

To help children remember the importance of protecting the environment, make one of these recycling garden crafts:

Make a beautiful caterpillar craft, which changes into a butterfly:

Make paper airplanes using instructions from books at the library or here:

Make an Ichthyosaurus (or other dinosaurs) out of clay or Playdoh, resembling the one seen here:


Games and Activities:

Rocket Balloon Race: Learn about Newton’s Third Law of Motion by making rocket balloons, and then race them:

Fruit Batteries:  See who can light up their lightbulb first, using a citrus fruit as a battery:

Magnet Treasure Hunt:  Have a large tub or pan filled with sand. Hide different small metal toys (like Matchbox cars) in the sand.  Each player has a magnet, and keeps the first toy they find!

Suction Race:  Each player has a drinking straw. They use the straw to transfer ten Smarties candies from one paper plate to another, demonstrating the principle of suction and creating a vacuum. First one to transfer all ten gets a prize!

Foamy Fountain Race:  Have kids make these Fantastic Foamy Fountains seen here:  which helps to learn about chemical reactions. See whose fountain is the tallest!

Book Display:

Pluto's SecretPluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery by Margaret Weitekamp and David DeVorkin, Abrams, 2013.

Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh, Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor, Holiday House, 2012.

Seymour Simon’s Extreme Oceans by Seymour Simon, Chronicle Books, 2013.

Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Backyard by Loree Griffin Burns, Holt, 2012.

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose, Farrar, 2012.

The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2012.

Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature’s Undead by Rebecca L Johnson, Millbrook, 2012.

Bird Talk: What Birds are Saying and Why by Lita Judge, Roaring Brook, 2012.

Frogs! Strange and Wonderful by Laurence Pringle, Boyd Mills, 2012.

The Mighty Mars Rover by Elizabeth Rusch, Houghton Mifflin, 2012.

Black HoleA Black Hole is Not a Hole by Carolyn C. DeCristofano, Charlesbridge, 2012.

On a Beam of Light: a Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, Chronicle, 2013.

Plastic Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman, Millbrook, 2014.

Penny Peck, San Jose State University, School of Library and Information Science

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