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Earth Science Week has been celebrated every October since 1998. It was created by the American Geosciences Institute to help people have a better understanding and appreciation for Earth sciences, and to encourage an interest in wanting to learn more and protect the precious Earth that we have. This week is now recognized and celebrated internationally by kids and adults alike. Whether it is doing some fun science projects and experiments, exploring the earth and ecosystems that make up their area, or fun crafts that help to understand and visualize how our planet works.
We found some of our favorite ways to explore and learn about all the world has to offer in hopes you too can also enjoy Earth Science Week with the whole family.
Teaching About The Importance of Water and How to Conserve It
Water and where it comes from might not be something that many think about, especially kids. The reality is that it is a natural resource that we need and use everyday, but it is also something that is not sustainable and we need to work together to conserve.
Read About It - One of the easiest ways to learn and explore with the family together is to read about it. Get your kids excited to learn with the National Geographic Kids Water Book. Great for kids ages 6 to 9, it is filled with amazing facts and connects how water works in the weather, in our bodies, and in our lives. For something for a broader age range, you can’t go wrong with The Magic School Bus At The Waterworks by Joanna Cole. Great for ages 4 to 10, we love the adventures and field trips taken by Ms.Frizzle and her class.
Color of Water Experiment - We all might think that water is generally clear, but is it really colorless? Exploratorium has an awesome and easy at home experiment you can do to test the color of water. All you will need is a clear polycarbonate fluorescent lamp tube guard, 4 feet (1 1/4 m) or longer (or other similarly sized clear plastic tube), scissors, clear waterproof tape (such as clear packing tape, Crystal Clear Gorilla Tape, or 3M Transparent Duct Tape), paper cup with white interior, white bucket, plastic bin (or large bowl, two-liter bottle or similarly sized pitcher), enough water to fill the tube entirely (use clean tap water to start, but also feel free to experiment with other fresh or saltwater samples from natural sources), and white paper.
- Cut off the bottom of the paper cup, then cut the bottom to fit the diameter of the plastic tube. You can throw away (or even better, recycle) the sides of the cup.
- Use the clear plastic tape to tape the bottom of the cup to one end of the tube, making sure that the coated inside of the paper cup faces the inside of the tube. Add tape as necessary so the tube is as watertight as possible.
- To test for leaks, place the sealed end of the tube in the bottom of the empty bucket, and use the two-liter bottle to pour water into the top. Check for water leaking out the bottom. It’s okay if there are some tiny leaks, but the tube should be able to hold the majority of the water for at least a few minutes.
- Next, stand the tube on end in the bucket so that the open end is on top. Look down into the top of the tube, and notice the color at the bottom. The bottom of the tube should look white.
- Then, use your bottle or pitcher to fill the tube to the top with a water sample. The water depth should be at least 3 feet (1 m). You can start with tap water, but then try other sources to compare such as ocean or lake water.
- Now you can see how the color of the water changes by your perspective. Start by looking through the side of the tube as you hold a piece of white paper behind it. Then try looking down into the top of the tube toward the sealed end. How does the water color change?
Many find that when looking down, the water can have a blue/green, or even yellow/brown tint. Exploratorium explains it this way, as “white light passes through increasing depths of water, it loses more and more red light to absorption, and the remaining light looks increasingly blue-green. You might have noticed this before in a bathtub full of water.” For more teaching tips and pictures of the experiment check out Exploratorium.edu.
Join a Citizen Science Project
We have talked about it before, but we can’t say it enough, become a citizen scientist and encourage your family to join! CitizenScience.gov is an official government website designed to accelerate the use of crowdsourcing and citizen science across the U.S. government. It allows people all across America to join together to accelerate and improve science, technology, and innovation by formulating research questions, conducting scientific experiments, collecting and analyzing data, making new discoveries, and so much more. Right now there are over 450 projects happening all over the country. From tracking invasive species, to testing the quality of your environment and presence of contaminants by planting a garden, to just sending in pictures as you document water levels and the effect they are having on roads, homes, and businesses. There is something for everyone to join no matter where you live or what your interest is, you can help.
Connect with Nature
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” --Rachel Carson, 1954
Your kids won’t care about trying to save and protect the wonders of nature if they don’t spend any time outside exploring and learning about it. Sure they can watch some YouTube videos and shows on t.v, but that won’t compare the memories you can make experiencing it together. Take some of your friends and family and explore a national or state park near you. Bring some chairs and a blanket and spend some time having a conversation about what you see. Are any plants just starting to grow? Do you notice any animals around you? Where do you think they get their food and water? If your kids are a little older, start talking about wildlife conservation and get them thinking about why it is important. What other experiences have they had outdoors that they have fond memories of? How would they describe the state of the environment they are in? Do they see any effects of pollution? Why is the protection of wildlife important? What can they do right now to help? These are just some simple questions to get the conversation started and really start to think as a family how our daily actions are affecting nature around us, and what changes we can make to leave it better than how we found it. Visit https://www.fws.gov/refuges/ to find a wildlife refuge near you and plan a visit full of fun activities and things to see.
We would love to hear how you are planning to recognize Earth Science Week this year. For more ideas and activities check out the Earth Science Week homepage, and leave a comment sharing your favorite place in nature to visit, how you are exploring and learning more, and changes you would like to see us make together to help make the world a better place. Be sure to check out our other Wildlife Blogs, along with fun board games and puzzles you can play with everyone to learn more about nature (and of course have a little friendly competition).