Struggling to find ways to keep your kids engaged and educated during the quarantine? We have a few cool hands-on experiments that help illustrate how pollution can affect the plants, waterways and overall environment.
The first experiment, which you can see more about in the video within this post, involves simply a few stalks of celery, some water, a cup and a few drops of food coloring.
Celery is a great plant for showing capillary action -- specifically how many plants acquire water from the ground. Slicing a stalk of celery to give a fresh edge and then placing it in a cup of water that has been tainted with a dark food coloring can be a powerful visual of what happens when foreign substances enter the plant along with the water.
For the best results, leave the celery in the colored water for at least 24 hours -- but kids will enjoy checking it periodically during that stretch. It doesn't always take too long to notice differences in coloration, especially if you use celery that has some leaves still attached.
What is the best way to illustrate which items degrade quickly in the environment and which seem to hang around forever and cause problems? By planting your own garden, of course.
In this case, your kids bury a number of different items in the soil within your yard and let nature take its course. In about a month, dig up the treasure trove and observe what happened to each item.
It is recommended to be diverse in the pieces you bury -- an apple core, a plastic shopping bag, a styrofoam cup, a banana peel, etc. For more detailed instructions and suggestions, click here.
Let it rain!
A high acid level in the rain that feeds our plants creates specific set of symptoms -- something that can be valuable to learn when assessing your own gardens or landscape.
In a nutshell, for this experiment, it is recommended you have three plants -- preferrably the same species in the same sized separate containers. The idea is to water each plant consistently with either fresh water, water with some acid, or water with a lot of acid. Lemon juice or vinegar make great additives to your water to increase the acid level.
Make observations over the course of a few days, a week, a month, etc. For more information, click here.
What is the best way to show kids how bad an oil spill can be for the environment? By helping them create their own, controlled, oil spill at home.
In a tray or basin of water, add oil and then certain items to represent wildlife species and even plants. The kids then are encouraged to clean up the spill using a variety of household items -- a feat much harder than you'd think.
For detailed instructions, click here.
Have any other suggestions? We'd love to hear about them. Did you try any of these experiments with your kids? Let us know how it went -- even send some photos -- by emailing Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper John Zaktansky by clicking here.
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John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.