We’re celebrating Spooky Science with 31 days of STEMtober activities! Every day this month, try these activities with your kiddos!
Spooky Science Journal
Grab your notebook and join in on 31 days of STEMtober activities! All scientists make observations and what better way to record your observations than your very own journal! This blog, The Good Stuff, has 5 DIY journals to choose from! If you’d like, you can start with a journal you already have at home or purchase one from the store!
Ice + Salt Experiment
Grab your notebooks and get ready to observe what happens to ice when you put salt on it!
Materials: ice cubes, plate or bowl, food coloring, salt
Instructions: Label one plate/bowl Control and name the other Test. Place an ice cube on each plate/bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt on the Test ice cube, but not your Control ice cube. Put a few drops of food coloring on each ice cube to observe the melting patterns. As time passes, observe what happens to the two ice cubes. Draw or write your observations in your spooky science journal.
You will see that the Test ice cube melts faster than the Control. This happens because salt lowers the freezing point of water. Did you notice holes in the ice cube? The saltwater melts faster than the other ice and causes holes and channels to form.
DIY Constellation Projector
Turn your bedroom into a nightscape with your own DIY Constellation Projector.
Materials: flashlight, cupcake foil, pencil or pen, push pin, rubber band
Instructions: Take your pencil or pen and put dots on your cupcake foil in the shape of your desired constellation. If you need some constellation inspiration turn to the internet; great scientists always do research! Use your push pin to poke holes on your dots to allow light to travel through. Place your finished cupcake tin on top of the flashlight and secure it with a rubber band. Turn the lights off and see your creation on the wall.
Get outside! Take a walk around your neighborhood or local park (always with an adult with you) and look for birds, trees, plants, and more. Be sure to bring your journal with you to draw the intriguing things you see. Have you ever laid in the grass, closed your eyes, and listened to nature? Try it! Write down in your journal the different sounds you hear. On your way home, be sure to grab 2 leaves to use for an activity for October 5 and October 6.
Did you know there are multiple parts of a leaf? Today, you’ll explore the parts of one of the leaves you grabbed from October 4’s walk. Tape your leaf into your journal and get started on writing what you identify with help from this info:
Petiole: The stubby stalk that connects the leaf to the branch or stem
Base: The part where the petiole and leaf are attached
Main Vein: This part runs from the base to the top of the leaf. You may notice this is the biggest vein.
Blade: The actual leaf. Is yours wide or narrow? Long or short?
Veins: The little tube-like pipes that support the leaf’s blades.
After exploring outside and picking up your two favorite leaves, you’ll use your remaining leaf to create a painting to remember your adventure!
Materials: your remaining leaf, paintbrush, construction paper or cardstock
Instructions: Take your leaf and brush a thin layer of paint on it. It’s important to not put too much paint on your leaf or you won’t be able to see the different parts you learned about on October 5. Once you’ve brushed a thin layer, press the painted side of your leaf to your paper. Do this a few times until you’ve created a great work of art!
Continue your outdoor adventure to learn about the different types of clouds. Grab a blanket and your journal and head outside to see what types of clouds are high up in the sky. What did you observe? What was the weather outside? Did you see thin or fluffy clouds? Did you see low, dark clouds? Did you see white or gray clouds? Clouds come in all shapes, what shapes did you see? Record your observations in your journal and use this info to help you identify what you see:
Cirrus clouds: These clouds look like thin strands
Cumulus: These clouds are fluffy, round, and bright white
Stratus: These clouds are low and dark and look like a huge blanket in the sky
Blade: The actual leaf. Is yours wide or narrow? Long or short?
Veins: The little tube-like pipes that support the leaf’s blades.
DIY Spider Web
Today is National Face Your Fears Day and what better way to face fears than make a spider web!
Materials: yarn, craft sticks, glue, and markers.
Instructions: Take 2 craft sticks and create an X. Glue the craft sticks together where they meet. Next, add one more to the middle of your X to create 6 sections of the web. Glue your craft stick down. Next, take your yarn and weave it around the craft sticks in any design you choose.
Did you know you can identify the type of spiders by the type of web they create? Spiders will intentionally build their webs vertically or horizontally depending on their diet and what food they need to capture. Take this craft to the next level and head to the library research books all about spiders!
Ever wonder how kaleidoscopes work? Get ready to find out!
Materials: paper towel roll, ruler, translucent beads or colored sequins, tape, glue, hot glue gun, clear plastic fruit box, markers, scissors, aluminum foil, empty cereal box, and colored paper.
Instructions: Take the paper towel roll and trace 2 circles on your plastic material, then cut out the circles. Place a small rim of hot glue around the edge of the paper towel roll and place the plastic circle on the glue. Remember, only adults should be handling the hot glue gun and scissors. Place the translucent beads or sequins into the paper towel roll. Place your second circle inside the paper towel roll on top of the beads. Now use your ruler to push the circle down until it’s resting right on top of the first circle. With the ruler inside the tube, measure the distance from the bottom to the top of the tube. Cut three pieces of cardboard that are the length of the tube measurement and one inch wide. Wrap these in tin foil and then tape them together to form a long triangle. Now insert the triangle into your paper tube and secure it in place with tape. Decorate the outside of your kaleidoscope and then test it out. What did your pattern(s) look like? Be sure to put your observations in your notebook.
Sink or Swim Challenge
Have you ever wondered why some objects float while others sink? Some objects are denser than others, which means the object has a greater mass per unit of volume. Today we’re going to explore density. Don’t forget that scientists draw or write their observations, so grab your journal and record what you observe!
Materials: container of water (a bathtub works great too!), variety of objects that can go in water (such as toys that are made from a variety of materials)
Instructions: Begin by filling your container or bathtub with water. Place your items in the water and observe if they sink or float. Did you notice an item that sinks? Try two items of the same material, but different sizes and see if they sink at the same rate. Did you notice an item that floats? Try placing weight on top of it to get it to sink.
Dr. Frankenstein experimented and engineered a monster. Today, we challenge you to engineer spooky creations just like Frankenstein!
Materials: paper, pencil, LEGOs
Instructions: Sketch a drawing of a spooky creature. Use your LEGOs to build your monster.
The autumn season means the temperature begins to cool down in many parts of the world. Some places even experience snow. Today, we’re going to make it snow in Florida!
Materials: Baking soda, shaving cream, and a Tupperware container.
Instructions: Put one cup of baking soda into the Tupperware container. Slowly add shaving cream until the snow is a consistency that you like. Once the snow is mixed, talk about what causes snow and why we don’t get snow in Florida. Have a blast building an indoor snowman or other snow creations!
Moon Cycle with Oreos
Tonight is a full moon! Spend the day learning about the moon cycle. Then, when the sun sets tonight, grab your journal and take a look at the full moon.
Materials: Oreo cookies, black construction paper, plastic knife, fork or spoon
Instructions: It takes about 29.5 days for the moon cycle to complete. Study pictures of the different phases of the moon cycle. To create your moon cycle model, twist apart an oreo cookie and keep the side of the cookie with the filling. You can begin by leaving all of the filling on one oreo to represent the full moon. Next, take a second oreo cookie with the filling and use your plastic utensil to remove the filling from other Oreo cookies so that it matches the next phase in the moon cycle. Repeat this process with other cookies until you have cookies that represent the different phases.
Need help with the phases of the moon cycle? Check out this post from NASA.
Take a look around you. What shapes do you notice? Do you notice that some items are made up of multiple shapes? Today we are going to make a pumpkin that is composed of a variety of shapes.
Materials: Pre-cut shapes, glue stick, construction paper, markers
Instructions: Take your pre-cut shapes and arrange them into the shape of a pumpkin. What shapes did you use? If you did this activity again could you use a different combination of shapes to create the same thing?
Water Cycle in a Bag
Have you ever thought about what happens to rain once it hits the ground? Water travels in a cycle. In Florida, we are very familiar with rain as a form of precipitation. Once the precipitation hits the ground it becomes a collection of water. Next, it will eventually evaporate until it becomes condensation. Today we look at the water cycle through a unique craft.
Materials: ziplock bag, permanent marker, tape, water.
Instructions: Study the water cycle, then draw the water cycle on your ziplock bag. Then, fill the bag with about two inches of water. Finally, close the bag and tape it on a sunny window. Over the next couple days observe what happens and record your observations in your spooky science journal!
Need help with the phases of the water cycle? Check out this post from NASA.
Straw Skeleton Craft
Did you know that the human body is composed of over 200 bones? Today, we are going to use straws to create a model of the human skeleton.
Materials: straws cut into pieces, construction paper, glue
Instructions: Review a model of the human skeleton. Use your straw pieces and arrange them on your construction paper so that they look like the skeletal system. Finish your model by gluing the pieces of straw onto the construction paper. Take your model a step further by identifying the different bones in the human body!
Want to explore the skeletal system more? Come play with the UnMonsters™ in the hospital exhibit at GCM!
Attention Spooky Scientists! It is time to grab a pumpkin and make some observations. Part of the scientific method is observing and we are going to observe both descriptive and numeric characteristics. So, pull out your journal to answer some pumpkin questions:
What color is your pumpkin? Is your pumpkin big or small? How many inches around is your pumpkin? How much does your pumpkin weigh? Draw a picture of the pumpkin. Does your pumpkin have any marks on it?
Those are just some of the things we observed about our pumpkin. Get creative and see what you can observe!
What happens to light if we create shadows with flashlights and objects? This activity is a great way to explore light. Light will travel in a straight line until it bends. In this case, the light bends because there is an object. Light travels at an incredible speed. It can make it from the earth to the moon in under 1.5 seconds.
Materials: flashlight, toys or other objects
Instructions: Grab some toys, a flashlight, and your Spooky Science Journal! Go to a dark space and project the flashlight on a wall. Place the objects between the flashlight and the wall so that the light is shining on the objects and the wall at the same time. Observe what happens to the shadows as you move the flashlight closer and further away. What happens if you move the flashlight to a different angle and change the way it points at the object? Record your observations.
Back to our drawing board for another engineering challenge! This time we are going to design a bridge.
Materials: paper, pencil, toy car, recycled materials
Instructions: We challenge you to take recycled materials and create a bridge that a toy car can cross. Begin by sketching your bridge design. Next, determine what materials will you use. Gather your recycled materials and build your bridge. The possibilities are endless but remember sometimes it takes more than one trial to get an experiment right, so be sure to test your bridge prototype and improve your model as needed.
Rain Cloud in a Jar
We learned about the water cycle earlier in the month, but today we are going to create shaving cream clouds and investigate what happens to colors as they spread through the clouds.
Materials: jar, water, shaving cream, food coloring
Instructions: Fill a jar ⅔ of the way with water. Spray shaving cream onto the top of the water. Place a drop of food coloring onto the shaving cream and watch the color spread. Try it again with multiple colors at the same time to watch color mixing! Record your observations in your Spooky Science Journal.
Gather around ghoulfriends and follow along as we turn eggs into ghosts.
Materials: tonic water, raw eggs, jar/container, vinegar, blacklight
Instructions: Gently place the desired amount of eggs in the jar. Fill the cup halfway with tonic water and halfway with vinegar. When you do this, make sure the eggs are fully submerged. After this, it is time to observe.
After 48 hours, the eggs will glow. This happens because the vinegar completely dissolves the eggshell. The acidity in the vinegar breaks down the shells but leaves the membrane intact. The tonic water is what creates the glow effect.
Come to the Museum on October 26 and October 27 to see our ghost eggs at our annual Halloween Spree event!
Phases of Matter
There are three phases of matter: liquid, solid, and gas. We see examples of liquids and solids every day but may not notice gasses all around us. Have your kids make a list of each phase of matter before exploring the different types with corn starch.
Materials: measuring cups, corn starch, water, mixing bowls or pan.
Instructions: Pour corn starch into a bowl. Slowly add water until the cornstarch is all covered. Mix the cornstarch and water solution. As you mix it, pick up a handful of the mixture and see what it feels like. Do you notice that the phases of matter change as you remove it from water? What happens if you rest your hand on the ooze you created? Do your hands sink or do they stay on the surface? Discuss the different phases you find in the mixture you created.
Coffee Filter Chromatography
Scientists use chromatography to separate a mixture in order to analyze matter. Coffee filter chromatography is a technique that can be used to look at how colors travel and mix to form new colors and mixtures.
Materials: markers, coffee filters, a jar of water
Instructions: Take one color of marker and color within the ring of the coffee filter. This should be on the edge of where the bottom circle meets the side. Next, color two other colored rings inside of that ring. Fold the coffee filter into a triangle and dip the pointed tip into the jar of water. Be sure that the tip that is entering the water does not have color on it. Watch the colors spread! Did some colors spread faster than others? What happens if you change the colors you use? The colors will spread at different rates depending on the composition. Did you notice new colors as your marker colors spread?
If you’d like to turn your coffee filter chromatography into a spooky craft, allow your coffee filter to dry. Then, grab some googly eyes, pipe cleaners, construction paper, and other art supplies to make a monster out of your coffee filter!
Candy Structure Challenge
Ever wonder what it would be like to have a house made of candy? What better time than Halloween to test out your candy engineering skills. Engineers use a variety of materials to create buildings, playgrounds, and houses. These materials can include bricks, concrete, wood, and metal. Today we challenge you to be an engineer and make a structure out of toothpicks and candy!
Materials: toothpicks, candy gumdrops
Instructions: Take a toothpick and add a candy gumdrop to one end. Then, stick another toothpick into the same gumdrop. Continue to add toothpicks and gumdrops together to build your structure! Test the strength and stability of your structure and continue to improve your structure as needed.
Lions and tigers and bears – oh my! What kind of creature will you create?
Materials: paper, pencil, recycled materials (we used cardboard tubes, string, cans, and containers)
Instructions: Close your eyes and imagine a creature. What does your creature eat? Does it have sharp teeth? Where does your creature live? Does it have fur, scales, or something completely different? How does your creature move? Does it have wings, legs, or something else? Now, open your eyes and sketch your creature. Share your creation with someone else! Finally, take your recycled materials and use them to build your creature.
Apple picking is a great fall activity. Grab an apple and get ready to learn about the different parts!
Materials: Apple, knife, plate, and a marker.
Instructions: The knife should only be used by an adult. Slice the apple in half to begin. Use the information below to find the different parts. Don’t forget to write about your observations in your journal!
Seeds: Extract the seeds and count how many seeds there are.
Core: The stem connects to the core and is where the seeds reside. It is the part that remains after the apple has been eaten.
Flesh: This is the part under the skin. It is the portion of the apple that is consumed. The flesh is also referred to as the pulp.
Skin: This is the colored coating on the apple. It protects the flesh of the apple but also provides nutrients.
Stem: This anchors the fruit on a tree.
How many seeds did you find? Did your apple turn brown over time? Still want to know more? Have your adult cut open another apple but cut it another way!
Candy Catapult Challenge
Ever wonder how far you can launch candy? Grab your journal and draw out a plan. We used craft sticks, rubber bands, and a spoon; however, the options are limitless!
Materials: craft sticks, rubber bands, spoon.
Instructions: Create a square frame out of craft sticks. Hold the craft sticks together with rubber bands. Attach the spoon to the front craft stick with a rubber band. Notice as you push the spoon back it should move forward and launch an item.
If you hit a creative block – consider looking online for catapult ideas! What happens if you change the item you launch? Does weight impact how far it travels? Does the shape of your catapult impact the flight?
Graph Your Candy
An important part of the scientific method is data collection and analysis. While some observations may be done with words, other observations are done with numbers. Our spooky scientists wanted to practice their data analysis and decided to graph the candy they collected from Halloween Spree.
The spooky scientists started by sorting the candy. There are several different ways to sort your candy. Should you sort it by brand? Chocolate vs. Fruity? Size? Name? Once the scientists decided how they wanted to sort it, they counted each category. They ended their project by counting the amount in each category and putting the groups in order from biggest to smallest. They used a bar graph to show the different group sizes but could have used a pie chart or a list as well. Once you finish, try it again but sort it in a different way!
It’s that time of year when monsters roam and creatures wake. Follow along as we make monster slime!
Materials: ⅔ cup white glue, ¼ water, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 2-3 cups shaving cream, 1.5 tablespoons contact lens solution (must contain boric acid and sodium borate), mixing bowl, and food coloring.
Instructions: Pour your glue into the mixing bowl. Next, add your water and baking soda. Mix in your food coloring. After your food coloring, slowly add in the contact solution. As you mix the contact solution in, the slime will slowly bind.
Candy Corn Observation
Ever notice that if an item is left out it may not be the same when you come back to it? Or maybe if you leave something in water too long, it looks different? Let’s see what happens to candy corn when we put it in liquids. Grab your journals to draw or write your observations.
Materials: candy corn, clear cups, water, vinegar, cooking oil, stopwatch
Instructions: Fill each of the cups with the various liquids. Make sure to label the cups so you know what is in each cup. Place a piece of candy corn in the cup and begin timing what happens. Does it change colors? Does it sink or float? Does it stay the same? What happens the longer you leave the candy corn in the liquid? Once you have tested all the liquids, compare the results for each one.
It’s Halloween and what better way to celebrate than adding extra ghoul to our jack-o-lantern? Follow the instructions below to add some extra spooks to yours as well!
Materials: Pumpkin, bowl, small plastic cup, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, food coloring, dry yeast, warm water.
Instructions: Begin by carving your pumpkin (adults should use the carving tools). Next, clean out your pumpkin. Put the pumpkin aside and prepare the solution. Start the solution by filling the small plastic cup with ½ cup hydrogen peroxide. Stir the food coloring into the hydrogen peroxide. Once the color is stirred in, add a tablespoon of dish soap to the mixture. In the bowl, mix the packet of dry yeast and 3 tablespoons water. Finally, place the small cup inside the pumpkin. Once the small cup is inside, pour the yeast/water mixture into the cup. Watch and observe!