Science Experiments to Teach Children About Natural Disasters
Natural disasters can happen at any time and anywhere in the world. Children often get scared and anxious when something happens because they do not completely understand what is going on.
Today we want to take a look at some easy and fun science experiments that you can do with your children to help teach them about various natural disasters. Once they have a better understanding of how and why they happen, they can cope a lot better when it does happen for real.
Along with doing the hands-on science experiments below, we suggest that you read up on the different natural disasters so that you can share the knowledge with your children as they learn.
Create a Sinkhole in a Cup
Sinkholes are formed when groundwater removes rock underground. They can be formed gradually over time or by sudden collapse of an underlying hole. One way sinkholes form is by the removal of large amounts of water from the ground for human use, livestock, or irrigation. Because of the loss of the water, the land surface can collapse into holes already formed in the underlying limestone.
- 8 oz. foam cup
- Scouring pad or very thin sponge
- Empty 2-liter soda bottle
- Piece of paper
- Make a hole in the bottom of the foam cup about the size of your thumb.
- Cut a circle the size of the cup bottom from a thin scouring pad. Place this circle in the bottom of the cup.
- Place a column of sugar in the center of the cup and surround it by sand. To do this, make a tube by rolling up a piece of paper and place it in the center of the cup. The paper tube should be about the same height and one half the diameter of the cup. Fill the inside of the tube with sugar and the outside of the tube with sand (the sand should be between the paper tube and the sides of the cup). Carefully remove the paper tube. Place a thin layer of sand over the sugar.
- Cut the bottom off a two-liter soda bottle at about the same height as the foam cup to create a dish. Fill it about one-third full of water. This will symbolize groundwater.
- Place the cup with the sugar and sand in the water. Watch as the water fills into the cup and the sugar dissolves and runs out. A sinkhole is formed in the cup as the surface sand sinks into the area where the sugar dissolved. (You may need to remove the cup from the dish of water to allow the water to drain out of the cup and the sinkhole to form) – found at Earth Science Week
Baking Soda Volcano
The baking soda volcano non-toxic, which adds to its appeal. It is a classic science project which can help kids learn about chemical reactions and what happens when a volcano erupts. As the carbon dioxide gas is produced, pressure builds up inside the plastic bottle, until the gas bubbles (thanks to the detergent) out of the ‘volcano’.
- 6 cups flour
- 2 cups salt
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil
- Warm water
- Plastic soda bottle
- Dishwashing detergent
- Food coloring
- Baking dish or another pan
- 2 T baking soda
- First, make the ‘cone’ of the baking soda volcano. Mix 6 cups flour, 2 cups salt, 4 tablespoons cooking oil, and 2 cups of water. The resulting mixture should be smooth and firm (more water may be added if needed).
- Stand the soda bottle in the baking pan and mold the dough around it into a volcano shape. Don’t cover the hole or drop dough into it.
- Fill the bottle most of the way full with warm water and a bit of red food color (can be done before sculpting if you don’t take so long that the water gets cold).
- Add 6 drops of detergent to the bottle contents. The detergent helps trap the bubbles produced by the reaction so you get better lava.
- Add 2 tablespoons baking soda to the liquid.
- Slowly pour vinegar into the bottle. Watch out – eruption time! – found at ThoughtCo
Build Earthquake-Proof Structure
All earthquakes produce P waves and S waves. P waves travel through solids, liquids and gases. In this simple science experiment you will see how P waves travel through different solids causing paper clips on a string to vibrate.
- Paper clips
- Nail or ice pick
- Remove one side of a cardboard box.
- An adult should punch a hole in the top and bottom of the box using a nail or ice pick.
- Tie a string so it runs from the top of the box to the bottom of the box.
- Start by tying a string to a paper clip on the outside of the box at the top.
- Thread the string through the bottom of the box and tie the string to a paper clip on the bottom of the box.
- Place 4 or 5 paper clips on the string inside the box.
- Place the box on a table or some other object you can strike to make it vibrate.
- Strike the table hard enough to cause energy waves to travel through it to the box.
- If you have struck the table hard enough the paper clips will start to vibrate back and forth.
- Move your box to other surface and see if you can make the paper clips vibrate on these surfaces.
- Change the experiment by using a different thickness of string.
- Change the experiment by using different sizes of paper clips – found on Kids-Earth-Science
Make a Thunderstorm
During this experiment the blue and cold water sinks while the red and warm water rises. This happens because of convection. The blue water represents the cold air mass and the red water represents the warm, unstable air mass. A thunderstorm is caused by unstable air and convection plays an important part. A body of warm air is forced to rise by an approaching cold front therefore thunderstorm’s form.
- Clear, plastic container (size of shoebox)
- Red food coloring
- Ice cubes made with blue food coloring
- Fill the plastic container two-thirds full with lukewarm water
- Let the water sit for one minute.
- Place a blue ice cube at one end of the plastic container.
- Add three drops of red food coloring to the water at the other end of the plastic container.
- Watch what happens – found on WeatherWizKids
Simple Way to Teach Which are the Strongest and the Weakest Points of a Hurricane
The eye is a region of mostly calm weather found at the center of strong tropical cyclones (hurricane). The eye of a storm is a roughly circular area and typically 30–65 km (20–40 miles) in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather of a cyclone occurs. The cyclone’s lowest barometric pressure occurs in the eye, and can be as much as 15% lower than the atmospheric pressure outside the storm.
- Large bowl of water
- Stir the water in a two liter bowl using a large wooden spoon.
- Dip a paper clip, attached to a string, in various places of the spinning water – in the center and farther from it.
- Observe were the paper clip is circling the fastest – found at JulianTrubin