Summer Science Ideas for Teens & Tweens

For many families across the country, these past few months have been a struggle. I know keeping kids engaged and learning is not always easy.

Now that summer is here, I find kids are burned out on online worksheets. Fortunately, summer science can be more than hands-on. Grab a dip net and lead the kids on a fully immersive science adventure!

Here are a dozen or more ideas you can use with your middle level science students stay active and engaged in enrichment activities all through summer.

Community Science Opportunities

Three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce. Some scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of animal pollinators like bees, butterflies and moths, birds and bats, and other insects.

Sadly, the number of pollinators is in decline. Other environmental factors are limiting the range of meadows and wildflower habitats, each of which have begun to show signs of succession.

Restoring native landscapes play a critical role in our ecosystem. Native plants provide shelter and food for pollinators, require less watering and maintenance, and add lasting color to any garden.

If you are concerned about saving bees, butterflies and other pollinators, #beecounted by helping the National Pollinator Garden Network reach one million bee-friendly gardens by National Pollinator Week.

The word citizen was originally included in the term citizen science to distinguish amateur data collectors from professional scientists. Today, it is important that we recognize that the term has become limiting in some contexts. As a part of my commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, I have transitioned from using the term “citizen science” to the more inclusive term “community science.” 

The ninth annual National Moth Week, July 18-26, invites novice and experienced “moth-ers,” alike, to observe these fascinating creatures in their own backyards and contribute to our scientific knowledge as part of one of the world’s largest community science projects.

Find more community science projects and opportunities here.

image of teen setting a crab trap at low tide

Hands-on Summer Science

Take a walk outside or along a nearby trail and observe the natural surroundings. Encourage your budding naturalists to start a nature journal.

Consider journaling activities in the classroom or allow them to develop their skills independently.

Have students build something out of recycled materials. Ideas could include a Rube Goldberg contraption, a skyscraper, or a bottle cap mural project.

Have students create a photo journal to document the trees, flowers, or common insects in your area.

Join Ms. Frizzle and her students on The Magic School Bus each month in exploring one of twelve different science topics through hands-on experiments with The Magic School Bus Science Club from The Young Scientists Club.

Practice your navigational skills using only a compass with orienteering! Set up a course in the neighborhood park and invite a few friends.

Virtual Field Trips & Movies

Summer is the perfect time for field trips. There are many benefits of local museums and science centers. Unfortunately, COVID19 restrictions have closed many popular museums and visitor centers.

Don’t worry! Many locations around the world offer ways to visit and explore their exhibits virtually. There are many movies to choose from to inspire further explorations of STEAM concepts. I will share my favorites soon.


What STEAM activities do you and your children enjoy in the summer months? Leave a comment below and share your ideas. 🙂

7 Awesome Homeschool Products FREE for the Summer!

We all love freebies! This is one you won’t want to pass up! 7 awesome homeschool products that kids and moms love .. free all summer long!

7 Summer Freebies details @EvaVarga.netWe homeschool year-round but we love to shake things up in the summer – incorporating innovative activities and programs that are fun and educational. The free homeschool products available through this limited time offer are perfect.

My son is passionate about Minecraft and has spent many hours researching and teaching himself how to code mods to build his own server. He is very excited about the opportunity to use Mod Design 1 by Youth Digital, one of the products included in the bundle.

My daughter loves art – especially Japanese Manga – and is always looking for lessons on animation. Mark Kistler’s Virtual Classroom will be perfect!

I have been wanting to find an online planner to help me to stay on top of their lessons while on the go. I am really excited to give Homeschool Planet a try.
FREE for the Summer

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Our Summer Plans for 2015

Summer is upon us and I am delighted. I have been battling with a growing feeling of burden upon me. I can’t seem to shake the desire to just drop everything and run into the hills.

My husband says I do too much, that my burdens are self imposed. I know he is right yet the eager beaver within me has a hard time letting go.

As obligations have begun to fall aside with the changing season, we have been giving thought to our summer plans. Vowing to relax and enjoy the sunshine a little more, we’ve settled upon the following activities.

More Art Journaling

Over the past year we have begun to dabble a little with art journaling, incorporating it into literature circle. It has been a fabulous way to express ourselves, combining art and words. We have begun to explore new media, mixing paints and printed papers to create unique art pieces.

Celebrate Summer: Mixed Media Workshop
We are looking forward to celebrating the delights of summertime by turning them into beautiful art under the tutelage of Alisha Gratehouse. Alisha offers a wonderful e-course, Celebrate Summer: Mixed Media Workshop. These projects are not your typical “summer camp” crafts. Each is a unique work of art to encourage your child to explore his or her creative talents.

Heritage Camp

The kids attended the Sons of Norway Heritage Camp last year for the first time and had an absolute blast! They have been looking forward to returning again this year and have been working hard to earn money to help offset the cost of the camp.

heritagecamp1Classes will again include Rosemaling, folk dancing, heritage, crafts, and Norwegian language. This year campers will learn money management with bank books, Norwegian Krone, a daily kanteen for purchasing special treats, and much more authentic Norwegian food at mealtimes.

Junior Olympics Swim Meet

The kids have been a part of swim team since we first moved to California. As is typical, JOs conflicts with heritage camp on the calendar. I thereby gave the kids the choice, “JOs or camp? You can’t do both.”

Last year, they were both in new age divisions and while they improved their individual times, only one qualified for JOs. After a short discussion, they agreed they would rather go to the meet with both competing. They were also eager to experience heritage camp.

junior olympics teamThis year they’ve both qualified in numerous events and their coach is encouraging them to compete. As we expected, camp and JOs conflict once again. Fortunately, camp is only 40 miles away (as opposed to 170 miles as in 2014). We thereby plan to do both – albeit they will miss a day or two of camp.

Lake Days & Sailing

Last year we had the opportunity to take part in a wonderful sailing clinic. The kids loved it so much they have asked to become a member of the local yacht club so that we can utilize the sunfish sailboats all summer long.

sailing101Whether we pursue that option or not, I am not sure. I do know, however, that we will be getting out to the lake more regularly. The kids also want to camp more – so my plan is to pitch a tent a few evenings each month.

Training

I’ve also come to discover that I need to resume training – for both my physical and mental health. I know myself well enough to also know I need a little carrot to keep me on target with my fitness goals.

moonshine

I have thereby registered for a full marathon in late August. It will be my fourth – but I am building from scratch. I must focus on quality of my runs as well as build endurance and distance. I can’t let myself worry about speed – which was my Achilles heel years ago.

As before, Geneva has expressed interest in also running distance events. We will be running the Moonshine Trail Run again this year (in 2013 I did the 15K and she the 5K). I am excited to run it with her .. her pace, if I can keep up. 🙂

Summer Nature Activities

With summer in full swing, family vacations may already be a treasured memory, or a much-anticipated pleasure. In Northern California, a family holiday often means a trip to a lake, creek, or river.

summer natureWhether your summer holiday is still fresh in your memory or an adventure you are all yet looking forward to, I thought I would pass along some resources for turning your outdoor nature experiences into art and writing opportunities.

Summer Nature Activities

If you have additional suggestions, please let us know. Leave a comment here or post your suggestion on my Facebook page. I hope you and your children have wonderful nature encounters.

 

Plans to Keep Summer Sizzlin’

As Unschoolers in a sense, we have always taken a relaxed approach to our studies. Our schedule is dictated by life – travel and special events.  We thereby homeschool year round and enjoy the ebb and flow.

Last year, as summer approached, I made up a bucket list of activities in which we wanted to take part.  We checked off most of what we had listed and fell short in others.

We wanted to make 2014 a summer to remember.  Here are a few ways we plan to keep summer sizzling’ in 2014.

Lake Days & Campouts

We didn’t spend as much time at the lake as we had wanted to last year.  We’ve vowed to change that.  We’ve connected with several new homeschooling families so we look forward to joining them as often as possible.

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Education Workshops

We will be taking part in a couple of education workshops this summer and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to connect with other homeschool families.

Classical Conversations

  • Art of Rhetoric: Cultivating the Conversation – A parent workshop or practicum through Classical Conversations designed to help home educators utilize the art of rhetoric effectively.
  • Logically Speaking (Ages 9-14) – Students will learn the basics of logic through problem solving, critical thinking games, and some interesting mysteries to solve!

Roots & Shoots

Heritage Camp

The most exciting event this summer is heritage camp.  The kids have wanted to go ever since we joined the Sons of Norway lodge but as it is a two-week, overnight camp, we wanted to wait until my youngest was old enough so they could go together.

Attending camp means the kids will not be able to swim at Junior Olympics even though they may have qualifying times. We discussed the conflict during a family meeting and the kids made the decision on their own. It made me very proud.

National Moth Week

We took part in National Moth Week last year and really enjoyed it.  This year, I am hoping to coordinate an outing for the homeschoolers in our area. With a BBQ beforehand, it should be a lot of fun.

How About You?

What plans do you have for your summer?  What are some ways you keep summer sizzlin’ while also keeping focus on academics?