Take advantage of warm sunny days and head outside for some STEM learning. These outdoor science experiments cover a wide range of topics, from electricity to chemistry and everything in between. Most require only simple materials, so any teacher or family can give them a try!
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1. Explode a DIY seed pod
Find out how some plants spread their seeds far and wide with this cool balloon experiment. Fill it with seeds along with air, then pop it outside on a breezy day and watch the seeds fly!
Learn more: Around the Kampfire
2. Send a soda geyser sky-high
This is the kind of experiment that simply has to be done outdoors. Kids will marvel at the chemical reaction that sends diet soda shooting high in the air when Mentos are added.
Learn more: Soda Experiment/Scholastic
3. Compost food scraps in a bottle
Food waste is a big problem, contributing to much of the material that winds up in landfills. Teach kids how to compost with kitchen scraps in a plastic bottle, and use the compost to feed your plants.
Learn more: Busy Mommy Media
4. Grow a carbon sugar snake
This eye-popping chemical reaction demonstration is sure to excite your students! You only need simple supplies like sugar, baking soda, and sand, but the element of fire makes this experiment best done outdoors.
Learn more: KiwiCo
5. See the greenhouse effect in action
Climate change can be a contentious topic, so start by teaching kids about the greenhouse effect, which is easy to see and understand using this simple experiment. Then, urge them to explore data collected by other scientists so they can learn to make informed decisions about topics like global warming.
Learn more: Teaching Science With Lynda
6. Construct a dirt battery
This outdoor science project is similar to building a battery from a lemon, but you also get to dig in the dirt! Kids learn about electric currents and conductivity.
Learn more: Dirt Battery/Teach Beside Me
7. Test the power of sunscreen
We slather kids in sunscreen when they’re playing outside, but do they understand why? Try this fun little experiment, which demonstrates how sunscreen protects from the sun’s harmful rays.
Learn more: Sunscreen/JDaniel4’s Mom
8. Build a solar oven
Explore the power of the sun when you build your own solar ovens and use them to cook some yummy treats. The link below has complete instructions.
Learn more: Desert Chica
9. Forecast the weather with pinecones
Fun fact: Pinecones open and close according to the weather in order to protect or disperse the seeds inside. Use that fact to your advantage and create a pinecone weather station in your backyard.
Learn more: Pinecones/Science Sparks
10. Construct a LEGO waterwheel course
Explore the power of water with a cool homemade LEGO water course that includes a dam and a water wheel. This engineering project is fun to play with when you’re done!
Learn more: LEGO Course/Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
11. Blast off with bottle rockets
A simple adapter kit allows you to turn an empty plastic bottle into a soaring rocket! Kids learn about pressure and Newton’s third law of motion with this perennially popular outside science project.
Learn more: Bottle Rockets/Science Sparks
12. Put together a simple microscope
This DIY microscope isn’t very powerful, but it does magnify small objects so you can see details. It’s also really simple to make. (Looking for a stronger microscope you can take on the go? Try this portable model that hooks up to your cell phone.)
Learn more: Microscope/Childhood 101
13. Create nature discovery bottles
Stroll through the great outdoors and have kids collect interesting natural objects. Use recycled soda or water bottles to display their specimens.
Learn more: Little Bins for Little Hands
14. Make sun prints
You’ll need to buy special paper for this outdoor science project, but it’s easy to find. Kids will love creating their own patterns and experimenting to find which objects work best.
Learn more: PBS For Parents
15. Assemble an anemometer
Scientists use anemometers to measure wind speed. Build this DIY version and do some weather science with your class.
Learn more: Pi’ikea Street
16. Find the best soap bubble solution
It’s easy to mix your own soap bubble solution with just a few ingredients. Let kids experiment to find the best proportion of ingredients to blow the longest-lasting bubbles with this fun outside science activity.
Learn more: Science Buddies
17. Blow the biggest bubbles you can
Once you’ve blown the longest-lasting bubbles, move on to creating the largest bubbles you’ve ever seen! Kids learn about surface tension as they engineer these bubble-blowing wands.
Learn more: Bubbles/Scholastic
18. Launch ping pong balls with a catapult
Young kids will simply adore building this basic catapult and watching ping pong balls soar! Older kids can experiment by changing the position of the fulcrum, the length of the board, and the objects being flung.
Learn more: Catapult/Buggy and Buddy
19. Brew some elephant toothpaste
Speaking of foamy messes, elephant toothpaste (ok, it’s not really used by elephants) creates a huge exothermic reaction that will blow kids away!
Learn more: Science Bob
20. Play a game of Nature Bingo
Give your nature walk more direction by giving students specific items to seek out. You can make your own boards, or hit the link below for free printables for every season.
Learn more: Massachusetts Audubon Society
21. Test out parachutes
Gather a variety of materials (try tissues, handkerchiefs, plastic bags, etc.) and see which ones make the best parachutes. You can also find out how they’re affected on windy days or find out which ones work in the rain.
Learn more: Inspiration Laboratories
22. Start a nature journal
Nature journals are a great way to partner writing and outdoor science, while building kids’ observational skills along the way. You can use any sturdy notebook or check out the link below for free printable journal pages and a fun DIY carry-along journal project.
Learn more: Nature Journal/Edventures With Kids
23. Make and plant DIY seed bombs
Use recycled materials to create “seed bombs.” Then plant them in the schoolyard or send kids home to use them in their own gardens. Students learn about ecology, recycling, and plant life cycles.
24. Experiment with limestone rocks
Kids love to pick up rocks, and there are plenty of great science experiments you can do with them. In this one, you pour vinegar over a rock to see if it bubbles. If it does, you’ve found limestone!
Learn more: Limestone Rocks/Edventures with Kids
25. Contribute to citizen science
Use a cell phone to snap pictures of everything you find on a nature walk, then report those sightings to Project Noah. This citizen science project is dedicated to documenting every living thing on Earth! (Teachers, get ideas for using Project Noah in your classroom here.)
Learn more: Project Noah
26. Turn a bottle into a rain gauge
All you need is a plastic bottle, a ruler, and a permanent marker to make your own rain gauge. Monitor your measurements and see how they stack up against meteorology reports in your area.
Learn More: NurtureStore
27. Learn about plant transpiration
This simple project demonstrates how plants get rid of excess water they don’t need, a process known as transpiration. The supplies and method are simple enough for anyone to try it.
Learn more: Transpiration/Teach Beside Me
28. Swing a glass of water to learn about centripetal force
When you do this experiment right, you won’t make a mess at all. But, while kids are still getting the hang of swinging glasses of water around their heads, you’ll probably want to make this an outdoor science activity.
Learn more: Steve Spangler Science
29. Learn to identify trees
Give trees a closer look and learn to identify them by their leaves and seeds. These jars preserve the leaves and seeds for future study, too.
Learn more: Identify Trees/Edventures With Kids
30. Go on a nature scavenger hunt
Take kids outdoors to use their five senses with this free printable scavenger hunt activity. They’ll hone their observation skills and learn so much about the world around them.
Learn more: Nature Scavenger Hunt/Childhood 101
31. Help monarch butterflies
You may have heard that monarch butterflies are struggling to keep their population alive. Join the fight to save these beautiful bugs by planting your own butterfly garden, monitoring monarch populations, and more. Get all the info you need at the link.
Learn more: Monarch Watch
32. Count tree rings to explore dendrochronology.
Your students might know you can count tree rings to find out how old the tree is, but do they know why that’s true? Explore dendrochronology using this free printable as a guide.
Learn more: Tree Rings/Edventures with Kids
33. Seek out signs of birds
Have you ever noticed that birds can be difficult to spot, even though signs of them are all around? This free printable scavenger hunt helps you find evidence that birds live nearby. Just look for nests and food sources and listening for their sounds.
Learn more: Inspiration Labs
34. Attract birds with a DIY bird feeder
Bring all the birds to the yard with this easy recycled bird feeder project. Kids can learn to identify common backyard birds in your area. Visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s educators’ resource page for more ideas.
35. Identify birds with an app
Some birds are easy to identify, but others stump even long-time bird-watchers. Use the free Merlin Bird ID app to help you out! Snap a pic, answer a few questions, and the app will provide you some probable identifications, just like that.
Learn more: Merlin Bird ID
36. Become a human sundial
Choose a sunny day and grab some sidewalk chalk—your students are about to become sundials! They’ll practice measuring skills and learn about the movement of the sun across the sky.
Learn more: Sundial/Scholastic
37. Harness the power of the wind
Wind turbines have become common sights in some parts of the country as we explore alternative energy sources. Build your own to learn how they work with this outdoor science experiment.
Learn more: Power of Wind/Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
38. Explode plastic baggies (and make a big mess)
Vinegar and baking soda experiments are always a big hit with kids, and this one is no exception. They’ll love seeing the bags pop from the chemical reaction, and you’ll be glad the mess is outside.
Learn more: Kids Activities
39. Estimate the height of a tree
Kids work in pairs to estimate the height of a tree in this project that puts the M in STEM. Get a free printable at the link below to walk you through the process.
Learn more: From ABCs to ACTs
40. Build a lightbox
Kids can entertain themselves for hours with a big empty cardboard box. Channel that energy by turning a box into a place to learn about light refraction and reflection, using colored water in plastic bottles.
Learn more: True Aim Education
41. Float a baking-soda powered boat
Here’s another experiment using the classic baking powder and vinegar reaction. This one uses it to power these cute little DIY boats! A kiddie pool is the perfect spot for this outside science project.
Learn more: The OT Toolbox
42. Conduct an egg drop
Here’s another classic science project that’s best done outdoors—the egg drop. Challenge kids to engineer a container that will protect an egg from a long fall (this is especially fun to do from upper-story windows).
Learn more: Egg Drop/Buggy and Buddy
43. Slide into friction science
Head out to the playground, gather up a variety of objects, and hold races to see which ones make it down the slide first. This is a fun introduction to friction and inclined planes.
Learn more: Friction Science/Buggy and Buddy
44. See water pollution in action
Learn about the challenges of cleaning up polluted water sources like rivers and lakes with this interesting outdoor science activity. Pair it with a visit to a local water treatment plant to expand the lesson.
Learn more: Water Pollution/JDaniel4’s Mom
45. Test your local water quality
Once you’ve “cleaned up” your water, try testing it to see how clean it really is! Then head out to test other types of water. Kids will be fascinated to discover what’s in the water in their local streams, ponds, and puddles. Student water testing kits are readily available online—try this set available on Amazon.
Learn more: The Homeschool Scientist
Outdoor science doesn’t have to be limited to spring or summer! Get 24 of the Coolest Winter Science Experiments and Activities here.
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