Try this!  Science you can do at home

Don't sit on the couch - get up and do some science! You'll find instructions and videos here for science experiments you can try at home with everyday materials.

 

Join Spy Fly, two treat-crazed dogs, and Dr. Monica Dus as they take you on a sweet journey to discover how sugar and the senses affect our brains. Sugar Buzz is an interactive science comic that offers fun at-home experiments, activities, and kid-friendly explanations that help us experience and understand the science behind food choices, why we crave sweet treats, and how to look for healthier options. Download a copy of Sugar Buzz below and get your taste buds ready for some science!

Sugar Buzz is part of a collaboration between Dr. Monica Dus, Associate Professor for the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History and is based upon work supported in part by the National Science Foundation, Award Number: 1941822.

Quetzalcoatlus and Other Non-Dinosaurs

Audience: Children and Adults
Grades: 4+
Duration: 5 minutes

Have you heard? Not all of the fantastic fossil fauna at UMMNH are actually dinosaurs! You might recognize a fossil fish but others, like the Quetzalcoatlus, are harder to discern from dinos. In terms of evolution, dinosaurs are only one of the many kinds of reptiles that walked our planet millions of years ago. Can you find all of the non-dinosaurs in this word search?

Ages: Children and Family
Grades: 6-12
Duration: 15 minutes 

Chemistry is all about the transfer of energy, and when it comes to energy there are only two ways it can go: in or out! Join U-M Museum of Natural History educator, Jeanna, for a guided chemistry demonstration on endothermic (energy in) and exothermic (energy out) reactions. Then, discover the difference between these two types of chemical reactions using household items and the Baggie Reactions instructions below. Your chemical comprehension will be in the bag! Literally!

This activity should only be performed with an adult present. Never mix chemicals without adult supervision.

Materials needed:

  • Measuring teaspoons (1 tsp. and ¼ tsp.)
  • Zipper sandwich baggies
  • Jumbo (15 ml) transfer pipettes or a turkey baster, half full
  • Yeast 
  • Baking soda 
  • Vinegar
  • 6% hydrogen peroxide (sold as “20 volume developer” at beauty supply stores) 

Whales and Mastodons Word Search

Audience: Children, Family
Grades: 3+
Duration: 5-10 minutes

Find the names of prehistoric whales, their ancestors, and regional mastodons in this word search based on the fossils that welcome visitors into the museum. It will test your knowledge of their habitats and distant relatives.

Dinosaur Word Search

Audience: Children and Family
Grades: 3+
Duration: 5-10 minutes

How well do you know dinosaurs? Enjoy this prehistoric puzzle featuring dino names, time periods in which they lived, and features of these magnificent animals!

Cereal Bird Feeder

Audience: Children and Family
Grades: K-8
Duration: 10-15 minutes

With warm weather approaching, some of our bird buddies will return from their vacation homes. In this activity, you can build your own feeder and make an oasis for them on their journey in your own backyard.

Materials:

  • Pipe cleaners
  • String or yarn
  • O-shaped cereal

Invisible Ink

Ages: Children and Family
Grades: K-8
Duration: 15 minutes 

Use simple household materials to make invisible ink. Write or draw secret messages then reveal them with a paintbrush and grape juice!  This activity relies on simple chemistry for fun effects. 

Materials:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • Container for mixing ingredients
  • Fork
  • Paper
  • Cotton swabs
  • Grape juice

Ice Age Word Search

Audience: Children and Family
Grades: 4+
Duration: Variable

The Ice Age was a time when giant mammals ruled. The State of Michigan is fortunate to have ample fossil finds from this time, sometimes even in people's backyards. Can you find the names of some of our favorite species and other Ice Age-related words in this word search?

Michigan Natural History Word Search

Audience: Children and Family
Grades: 4+
Duration: 5-10 minutes

The climate, terrain, and wildlife of the area now known as Michigan has evolved over time. In fact, 400 million years ago, Michigan had a tropical climate. Over time it changed again! Fast forward 390 million years and proboscideans such as mammoths and mastodons roamed the area. Can you find the terms representing the changing ecology of Michigan in this word search?

Dusting for Fingerprints

Audience: Children and Family
Grades: All
Duration: 15 minutes

Want to be a detective? Even the cleanest fingers leave clues. Learn how forensic scientists dust for fingerprints.

Materials:

Moon Phase Wreath

Ages: Children and Families
Grades: K-4
Duration: 15-20 minutes 

Our own spin on holiday traditions. With the winter solstice approaching, craft this wreath and explore the many phases of the moon.

Materials:

  • 1 paper plate
  • 1-2 pieces of black construction paper
  • 3 pieces of white paper
  • Black yarn
  • Glue
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Coloring utensils

Backyard Insects Field Guide

Audience: Children and Family
Grades: 5+
Duration: Variable

Create your own Backyard Insects Field Guide! Then go outside and use the field guide to try and identify any bugs you might find. Be sure to review our insect collecting etiquette before you start! 

Field Guide Instructions

Things in a Lab Word Search

Audience: Children and Family
Grades: 3+
Duration: 5 minutes

A lab, short for laboratory, is a place where science experiments and testing are done. The University of Michigan has many labs where scientists are conducting research in fields such as medicine, geology, microbiology, zoology, and many more. Can you find the tools scientists use in their laboratories in this word search?

Paper Plate Ichthyosaur

Audience: Children and Family
Grades: K-8
Duration: 11 minutes

What looks like a fish but is actually a reptile? An Ichthyosaur! In this craft activity, you will make your own prehistoric reptile. Do parts of this prehistoric creature look familiar to you? How many other animals have similar features and what does that say about what animals need to live underwater?

Fruit DNA Extraction

Ages: 8 and up (Younger children will need adult supervision)
Grades: 3 and up
Duration: 20 minutes

Materials:

  • Chilled Rubbing Alcohol
  • Dish Soap
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Strawberries (or other fruit)
  • Zip-top Bag
  • Fine Mesh Strainer
  • 1 Cup
  • 1 Small Container

Astronomy Word Search

Audience: Children and Family
Grades: 1+
Duration: 5-10 minutes

How many astronomy terms can you find in this word search puzzle game? Don’t look at the answer sheet until you’re done!  Can you explain what each term means to a parent or friend? If not, see if you can discover their meaning on your own!

Prehistoric Origami

Ages: All
Grades: All
Duration: 7-15 minutes
Materials:

  • Paper 
  • Scissors (if you don’t have square paper)
  • Patience

Looking for a challenge? Can you fashion your own prehistoric creature with a single sheet of paper? If you’re patient, try creating a Brachiosaurus. If you’d like to start slow, make your own Pteranodon!(Note: Be sure to start with a square sheet of paper.)

Bee Hummer

Ages: 5-12
Grades: K-8
Duration: 10-15 minutes

Buzz Buzz Buzz. That distinctive sound is made from a bee’s wing. In this craft activity, create your own device that will sound like a swarm of bees.

Materials:

  • scissors
  • stapler
  • 1 index card
  • 3 feet of string
  • 1 popsicle stick
  • 2 cap erasers
  • 1 rubber band

Archaeology of a Penny

Audience: 6-12
Grades: 1-7
Duration: 10-15 minutes 

Sometimes an item that looks like an everyday object can tell us more about a group of people than you may think. What can you learn from everyday objects by looking at them with an archaeologist's eye?

Materials: 

  • Small household object (a coin, a book, a toy, etc.)

Transmissions: Gone Viral

Ages: Youth
Grades: 3-5, 6-8
Duration: N/A

Transmissions: Gone Viral is a digital interactive comic book put together by our partners at the New York Hall of Science. It follows a group of kids who investigate a mysterious virus plaguing animals and humans. The kids learn about how scientists study diseases that come from animals. A great way to help kids grades 4 and up understand more about viruses. Read The Comic 

Materials:

  • Virtual Comic Book

Blood Typing

Ages: Adult
Grades: 9-12
Duration: 30 minutes

Ever wonder why doctors need to know your blood type? Set up a mystery for young scientists to solve, using milk, food coloring, and vinegar. What is the patient’s blood type and why does it matter?

Materials:

  • Cow's Milk
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Red Food Coloring
  • Permanent Marker
  • Tape
  • 3 small bowls
  • 4 spoons
  • 4 cups

Looking for Aquatic Life

Ages: All
Grades: All
Duration: 20+ minutes

Bring the outside in by creating a micro garden and a self-contained water cycle!

Materials:

  • White plastic or ceramic container or clear container with something white beneath it
  • Mesh net or colander
  • Empty condiment or juice bottle
  • Pond or stream

Ever wanted to know what's hiding out in the water? Go on a hunt for aquatic invertebrates and see what else you can find on the way!

This guide by the MidMichigan Environmental Action Council might help you identify the creatures you find in your water sample.

Glass Jar Terrarium

Ages: All
Grades: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Duration: 1 hour

Bring the outside in by creating a micro garden and a self-contained water cycle!

Materials:

  • Glass Jar
  • Empty Containers
  • Spoon
  • Knife
  • Tweezers

Density Tower

Ages: Children and Family
Grades: 3-5, 6-8
Duration: 30 minutes

What keeps the sky up and the sea at sea-level? Density! Watch us create a model you can do at home to illustrate why some things float and others sink.

Materials:

  • Water
  • Milk
  • Honey
  • Dish Soap
  • Veggie Oil
  • Tall Clear Glass
  • 6 small glasses
  • food dye
  • turkey baster
  • measuring cup
  • rubbing alcohol

Star Clock

Audience: Children, Family
Grades: PreK+
Duration: ~20 minutes

When you go outside during the day, it's easy to estimate what time it is by looking at the position of the Sun. When the Sun is directly overhead, it's about noon, when the Sun is in the east, it's the morning, and when the Sun is in the west, it's the afternoon. But did you know you can estimate the time of night by looking at the stars in the same way? Join us as we show you how to make a star clock to help you navigate the night sky.

Materials

Make Your Own Atom

Audience: Children, Family
Grades: 3-8
Duration: 12 minutes

The atom is the basic building block of everything in the universe. Each different atom makes up an element, a unique and pure substance like iron, gold, or helium. Atoms themselves are made up of subatomic particles known as protons, neutrons, and electrons. Join us as we show you how to make your very own atom out of pipe cleaners and beads!

Materials

Star Wheel

Audience: All
Grades: All
Duration: 15-20 minutes

The night sky is filled with beautiful stars and constellations, but it can be a daunting task to understand exactly what you're looking at. The night sky changes with the seasons, so even experienced astronomers and navigators need to take time to orient themselves. Join us as we show you how to make a star wheel, which will help you navigate the night sky any time of year.

Materials

Colorful Galaxies Mobile

Audience: Children, Family
Grades: K-5
Duration: ~20 minutes

A galaxy is a grouping of gas, dust, stars and their solar systems, all held together in orbit by gravity. Most stars in the Universe can be found in galaxies. The Sun (and Earth) are part of the Milky Way galaxy, which contains more than 100 billion stars! Join us as we show you how to make a hanging mobile of galactic proportions.

Materials

Build an Earthquake-Proof Tower

Audience: Children, Family
Grades: 1+
Duration: ~15 minutes

How do engineers make buildings strong and stable in earthquake prone areas? Join us as we explain some of the science behind earthquake resistant design, and learn how to build your own "earthquake" proof model!

Materials

  • Dry spaghetti
  • Marshmallows
  • Paper plate/regular plate

Popsicle Stick Catapult

Audience: Children, Family
Grades: 1+
Duration: 15 minutes

Use household objects to make a mini catapult! This activity uses basic physics to fun effect.

Materials

  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Pom-poms (or other ammunition)
  • Five rubber bands
  • A plastic spoon.

Make Your Own Compass

Ages: All
Grades: K-2, 3-5
Duration: 10 minutes

Use household items to generate a magnetic field and see how it interacts with Earth’s nearest magnetic pole!

Materials:

  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Sewing needle
  • Magnet
  • Leaf (or piece of cork)

Constellation Creation

Audience: Children and Adults
Grades: Pre-5
Duration: ~5 minutes

Whether you're a professional astronomer or just enjoy stargazing at night, everyone can agree that the constellations are beautiful. Join us as we show you how to create your own constellations with beads and pipe cleaners! Use the attached flashcards as a guide, and learn about some constellation myths along the way.

Materials

Ages: Children and Family
Grades: K-8
Duration: 10-15 minutes 

Long ago, the sky belonged to flying reptiles. Pteranodons (ter-AN-o-donz) were one of many kinds of pterosaur. Make your own Pteranodon to rule the sky.

Materials:

  • Pteranodon template
  • Wooden clothespins
  • Construction paper
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Coloring supplies
  • Googly eyes
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Cardboard Mars Rover

Audience: Children and Adults
Grades: 3rd and up
Duration: 20 minutes

Scientists at NASA build rovers to explore the surfaces of planets like Mars and bring back samples. Click our link above to watch video instruction so you can make your own moving rover out of a few household objects. Use it to explore the far reaches of space - or maybe just the far reaches of your kitchen.

Materials needed:

  • One 6x6 inch square of cardboard
  • Two 5x5 inch squares of cardboard
  • One pencil
  • One plastic straw
  • Two rubber bands
  • Two Lifesavers
  • Tape
  • Scissors