Best backyard science experiments to try this summer


One way to minimize the impact of the summer brain drain is to plan educational activities like science experiments with your kids.

As an added bonus, the great weather allows you to take experiments outdoors, opening up a whole world of big and messy possibilities.

The Water Rocket and Egg Walk are so much fun, your kids won’t even realize that you’re sneaking in some learning.

Water Rocketfoc-edu2-2-jj15

With very few items – a plastic pop bottle, a cork, a bike pump, and a small hose – you can create hours of entertainment by launching your very own water rocket in your backyard.


  • Cork
  • Plastic pop bottle
  • Water
  • Sharp utility knife
  • Bicycle pump with ball needle and long hose (60-100 cm)


  1. Test inserting the cork in the bottle opening to make sure it fits snugly.
  2. Place the ball needle from the bicycle pump next to the cork and use the utility knife to cut off enough cork so that the needle just sticks out of the end of the cork when you push it through.
  3. Push the needle through the centre of the cork.
  4. Attach the needle to the bicycle pump hose.
  5. Put some water in the pop bottle. Start with about one-third full.
  6. Securely place the cork into the opening of the bottle.
  7. Make a launch pad that allows you to prop the bottle upside down without tipping over. You can use some rocks, a few bricks, a PVC tube. You can add another project in building a custom launch pad (flexes the design, problem solving, and math skills muscles).
  8. You will want to do this in an open area, away from vehicles, windows, and unsuspecting passersby. You may be surprised at how high and how far the rocket will go. Also make sure it is pointed directly upward and not toward a person (adult supervision required).
  9. Have a child start pumping the bicycle pump. The bottle will fill with bubbles and once the pressure builds up, the cork will be forced out of the neck of the bottle and the bottle will be launched skyward.


Try different sizes of plastic pop bottles with varying amounts of water. Ask the kids to guess what will happen with more or less water, smaller and bigger bottles, and why?

Source: Handy Dad; 25 Awesome Projects for Dads and Kids by Todd Davis

Egg Walk

Did you know that eggs are actually very strong, so strong, in fact, that they can support your body weight? The shape of the egg is the secret, giving it tremendous strength. foc-edu2-3-jj15


  • A few dozen large eggs in cartons
  • Large trash bag(s)
  • Bucket of soap and water, disinfectant, and paper towels for cleanup
  • Enthusiastic, barefoot participants


  1. Cut open the large trash bag to make one long strip. More egg cartons, more bags.
  2. Arrange the egg cartons in two rows, spacing them out on alternating sides (like when you walk). Inspect for broken eggs and replace to ensure full cartons.
  3. Orient all eggs in the same direction (all pointy side up or pointy side down) to create the most level surface possible.
  4. Test the strength of an egg trial run – place an egg in the palm of your hands and completely wrap your fingers around the egg. Make sure you are not wearing any jewelry. Squeeze as hard as you can. What happens?
  5. Ready to walk on eggs? Remove your shoes and socks. Have someone help you step up onto the first carton of eggs. Keep your foot as flat as possible to evenly distribute your weight. Slowly apply your body weight to the first carton of eggs, then gently place your other foot on the second carton of eggs.
  6. If you have more than two cartons of eggs, now’s the time to start walking.


Place a board or tile over some eggs and stack weight on top (books work well).

Feeling really brave? Place several egg cartons together, then carefully lay on them (pun totally intended!)

Note: Raw eggs carry the danger of salmonella. Even if no eggs are broken, ensure you properly wash your hands and disinfect the area when you are done.

Source: Fire, Bubbles, and Exploding Toothpaste; More Unforgettable Experiments That Make Science Fun by Steve Spangler article-end-jj15-30px

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