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Science

Science Scavenger Hunt by The Broward Tutor

Now that your kids have made it through another school year, it’s time to give your whole family a high-five. All the hard work and schedule juggling will finally ease up for all of you. But, how can you keep your kids learning over the summer? Give them new experiences, and dare I say it?  Go outside and have a summer SCIENCE SCAVENGER HUNT!

Your kids may whine, and even beg not to go because they HATE GETTING DIRTY and/or SWEATY. But it’s important for all of us to get out of our comfort zones sometimes. You don’t want your kids labeled with ‘nature-deficit disorder,’ do you? Outdoor science experiences are everywhere. So, throw down your electronics, apply your sunscreen & bug repellant, grab some water, and go. A day of science discovery lies ahead!

Science Scavenger Hunt

Explore, be curious, and don’t forget to release any living specimens you have collected. Be inspired by the natural world around you!

You can create a checklist to take with you from the information below. This list is just a suggestion. You should tweak the information to fit the environment you choose. When one of you finds an item on the list, it should be collected or shared with the group and recorded in the journal. Try to find a park with lots of trees and paths, but some neighborhoods will do just fine!

MATERIALS
• plastic container
• tweezers
• small gardening tools or spoons & forks
• a small notebook or journal
• pencils and/or colored pencils
• camera
• a field guide to plants, animals, or insects (if you have one)
• garden gloves (for the faint of heart)

ANIMALS
• dragonfly
• butterfly
• spider & web
• squirrel
• ant
• worm
• beetle
• little lizards
• tadpoles
• birds

PLANTS
• variegated leaf
• thick leaf or succulent
• thin leaf
• air plant (epiphyte)
• coniferous tree
• deciduous tree
• flowering tree

DEFINITIONS AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION

thin leaf – typically, leaves are flat and thin. Thin leaves are arranged on the plant in order to expose their surfaces to light.

variegated leaf – a leaf which contains green and non-green parts. The leaf may have a mixture of green with white or yellow white or yellow. These zones on the leaf contrast with the usual green tissue.

thick leaf (succulent) – having thick fleshy leaves or stems that store water. Succulents are usually adapted to drier environments such as deserts, and display other characteristics that reduce water loss, such as waxy coatings on leaves and stems. Examples:  cacti,  jade plants

air plant – a plant that grows above the ground, supported by another plant or object. Air plants get their nutrients and water from rain, air, and dust. Examples: Spanish moss, orchids


coniferous tree – coniferous trees are usually evergreen, and often have drought-resistant leaves that are long and needle-shaped. They produce cones. Coniferous trees keep their foliage all year round. Examples: evergreens, firs, pine


deciduous tree – Deciduous trees are plants that drop their leaves for a part of every year, usually during periods of dryness or cold weather. Their branches remain free of foliage until conditions improve. For the tree, this means that it can save energy by not working to keep the leaves green and healthy.

flowering tree – the flowers attract pollinators, and fruits feed birds and small mammals. Examples:  Royal Poinciana, Golden Shower tree, Jacaranda

adaptation – a special feature that allows a plant or animal to be better suited to survive and reproduce in a particular environment.

Animals have adapted to different environments in order to survive. Some adaptations are physical, such as gills that allow fish to breathe underwater. Some animals may adapt through behaviors. A porcupine extends its quills, making it difficult for other animals to eat them.



Plants have adaptations allowing them to live and grow in different areas. Some plants climb or grow on other plants to reach the sunlight. Some trees have thick bark to protect them against the cold. Spines, such as on cacti, protect the plants from animals who eat the plant for water.

Use as many of the following science process skills as you can,
so that your children will recognize the vocabulary as they advance in science learning.

discusstalk about color, shape, texture, pattern, and size.

observeuse the senses to explore and learn. How are the leaves arranged on the stem? Are the leaves waxy or dull? Does the animal live alone or in groups? Is it climbing, eating, sleeping, washing its fur, searching for food?

compare/contrast – try to identify what you see and find out how they are alike and different
 from other organisms

classifygroup objects into categories based on specific characteristics

recordwrite, draw, or photograph what you see.

NOTE: When you get home, clean up and cool off. Take the opportunity to research anything you want to learn more about!

Do you have any other ideas to add to this scavenger hunt?
Please add your cool ideas in the comments section.

Hope you have a fun, happy and safe summer!
Randi Gelfond, a.k.a.
The Broward Tutor

 

 

 

Microscope Science Activity from The Broward Tutor

Spark curiosity as you explore life through the lens of a microscope.  There is a world of wonder just waiting for you and your child. If you don’t have a microscope, you can buy a reasonably priced one on Craigslist, or at a local hobby store. You will be in for a treat!
Materials shown in the photo are:

  • a box of concave blank slides to prepare on your own, OR,
  • a set of prepared slides
  • eyedropper
  • tweezers
  • toothpicks
  • swabs
  • clear tape
  • Sharpie marker
  • samples (seaweed, bumble bee)

The activity sheet (shown in photo) is a simple one I created, and will share with you here.
The title is “Observation Log,” and here are the steps:
1. Describe the object in detail. Use scientific properties such as color, shape, size. . .
2. Use the microscope to focus in on a detail of this object, and draw it in the circle below (draw a circle here).
Be sure to fill the circle completely, and try to draw exactly what you see through the lens.
3. The object is ___________ .
4. What is one thing you are curious about when looking at this object?

Question #4 may lead to a more in depth research opportunity!

Quite a few of my elementary school clients are receiving enrichment lessons, and I have found that no matter what the age, children really appreciate the wonders seen under the lens of a microscope.
Investigations might include:

  • comparing the differences between pond water, ocean water, tap water, bottled water
  • examining insects and identifying body parts
  • observing cells within a piece of cork
  • viewing mold from old bread

Introducing science as early as possible will allow your child to have a base they can build on as they grow. The Scientific Method is a step by step process used in problem solving. Problems can be general or scientific in nature, and it’s as good a time as any to familiarize your child with some of the vocabulary used. The following vocabulary words will become necessary for your child to know by the time he or she reaches 5th grade: question (or problem), prediction, observation, hypothesis, procedure, experiment, data, results, conclusion. One way to incorporate the scientific method as you use the microscope is to ask questions such as, “Predict where we will see more living organisms, in the pond water or in the ocean water?” or “What conclusion can you draw from observing our sample?”

Please let me know if you have more ideas that can be shared with my readers.
Happy Exploring!

Randi Gelfond
a.k.a.

The Broward Tutor

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