5 Simple Earth Science Experiments for Small Kids

For the young and the young at heart

Science experiments are a fun way to while away time and at the same time gain some knowledge while you are at it. How fascinated are you with the planet Earth and the things that happen around us? There are scientific reasons to even the minutest of things that happen on planet Earth. The swirly white clouds that surround us, the blue oceans that make our planet so beautiful, the way in which a Sun's rays reach the Earth, there’s Science involved anywhere.

On this page we are going to focus on simple Science experiments or ideas you can try out in the comfort of your own home. The experiments on this page focus on our planet Earth. They aim to help your kids out in understanding the world we live in a bit more clearly.

The Science experiments on this page are mainly aimed for kids who have just started to take an interest in Science. They are extremely simple and can be done alone without any parental guidance.

Pangaea

Scientists once believed that our planet was comprised of only a singular supercontinent – Pangaea. Pieces of Pangaea broke away and that’s how we see the continents that have formed today. You can try a really simple Science experiment based on the Pangaea.

You will need:

  1. A world map
  2. A pencil
  3. A sheet of tracing paper
  4. A piece of thin card
  5. Paper glue
  6. Scissors

Directions:

  1. Take the tracing paper and place it over the map. Trace the outlines of the continents.
  2. Stick this tracing paper which has continents traced on it onto the thin card with the help of glue.
  3. Cut out the continents from this card with scissors.
  4. This forms a kind of a jigsaw puzzle. Try to stick these continents together. They won’t fit together exactly as the edges of the continents are below the sea but you will get an overall impression of how the Pangaea might have looked like.

Pangaea
Pangaea

A Paper Mountain Range

The different mountains we see today on planet Earth have been formed in different ways. The Himalayas in North India and Alps in North Italy were formed when the plates in the Earth’s crust were pushed together. These types of mountains which are formed when rocks bundle up or fold in a particular way are called fold mountains.

When you touch rocks, they feel rock solid. But when ample pressure is placed on these rocks, they can bend, change shape and even fold just like paper sheets.

You can visualize this yourself with the help of some paper sheets.

Things you will need:

A number of paper sheets which are at least 5 mm thick.

Directions:

  1. Place each sheet of paper on top of each other.
  2. Bend the sheets of paper by applying force on the edge of the paper sheets. Each paper sheet can be assumed as a layer of rock.
  3. When you apply force, they bend, rise up and form a mountain range shape.

This is exactly the same thing that happens when rocks are pushed by earth’s movements – rocks bend, change shape and a mountain range is formed.

Sedimentary Rocks

Small pieces of rocks get washed down into the sea and they settle down in layers (strata). Over a course of time, more layers are formed like this. Each layer pushes the other down and eventually the bottom layers are turned into hard sedimentary rock. In between these layers of sedimentary rock, fossils of dead animals and plants also settle down.

You can visualize the formation of sedimentary rocks with this simple Science experiment given below.

Things you will need:

  1. Water
  2. Some dry and clean clay
  3. Some sand
  4. A tablespoon
  5. A glass jar with a lid

Directions:

  1. Fill the jar halfway with water.
  2. Take 4 tablespoons of clay and 4 tablespoons of sand and put them into this jar of water.
  3. Put the lid on jar.
  4. Shake it thoroughly.
  5. Watch the clay and sand settling down.
  6. Sand particles are more dense so they settle down first. The lighter and smaller particles of clay settle down at the top.

Imagine this happening in the ocean over millions of years. Over time the top layers put pressure on the lower layers and sedimentary rock is formed.

Sedimentary rocks on Mars
Sedimentary rocks on Mars | Source

Sedimentary Rock Collection for Kids Aged 8+

Waves

We sit by the ocean side and enjoy the soft waves on its surface. What causes these waves? They come into action on the water surface whenever wind blows. Waves move in the direction of wind, but that is how they appear on the surface of the water. Underneath, water moves in the form of circles.

You can simulate wave movements with the help of a simple Science experiment.

Things you will need:

  1. A thin long rope
  2. A tree or post

Directions:

  1. Tie an end of the rope onto the tree of rope. It should be tied at the same height as your waist.
  2. Take the other end of the rope and move away some distance from the tree or post.
  3. When you move the rope quickly up and down, you will see waves forming.

Surface waves in water
Surface waves in water | Source

The Sun's Rays

The weather on planet Earth keeps changing on a regular basis. One time it’s sunny, after some time it gets rainy, cold, humid and so on. The weather changes according to a pattern – we know when to expect Summer, Winter, Autumn and Spring.

According to climatologists, climate varies depending on how the Sun’s rays reach the Earth, the amount of land and sea nearby and the height at which the land appears above sea-level. These 3 factors govern the climatic changes.

Let’s take a peek into how the Sun shines with the help of this Science experiment for kids.

Things you will need:

  1. A small ball
  2. A torch

Directions:

  1. First hold the ball in one of your hands.
  2. Switch on the torch and focus the light onto the middle of the ball. You will see a circle of bright light right at the center of the ball. This is quite similar to how the Sun rays reach the Earth at the equator.
  3. Now look at the bottom of the ball and see how the light is shining there. It is spread over a much wider area and appears quite dull right at the bottom. This is how the Sun shines in the polar regions.

Sun's rays through clouds
Sun's rays through clouds | Source

© 2014 Kalpana Iyer

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