When you’re not in the mood for exerting energy on the field or in the pool, why not enjoy the nice weather by doing some outdoor science games instead? Science is fascinating at any age, and there are so many games and experiments you can do with just a few household items. Whether you are a parent with bored kids at home, or an adult looking for something to do with a group of friends on a lazy day, we have put together some great ideas for you.
This is a throwback to the days when we used to make volcanoes out of vinegar and baking soda…that’s pretty much what this game involves, but with a few extra twists. Adults and kids alike can enjoy this activity.
How many people: at least 2
What you need: an open space outside where you don’t mind getting a big messy, some baking soda, some vinegar, food-coloring if you want to make colored lava, some clay or playdough, an old soda can, any other tools or vessels you might like to use…it’s okay to get creative with this activity. Pens and paper if you want to write or draw your ideas and designs
How to play:
If you are working in teams, get your team sorted with a work station far enough away from the other team/s so they can’t copy your great ideas. Each team gets equal amounts of baking soda, vinegar, newspaper and playdough or clay if you have some. Each team also gets one soda can (or bottle if that’s what you’re using). The idea is that each team or individual contestant starts out with the exact same materials so that the base of the game is fair.
Decide upon a time limit and set a timer. Once the “go” signal is heard and the timer begins, each team must design their own customized volcano. You can plan the design first, or you can just get straight into it. Each team is allowed TWO alternate materials that you can find within a set vicinity of the playing area. For example: the rule might be that you can find any 2 materials in the space between the patio and the fence. Or, you can find 1 extra material from the kitchen, and 1 from the garage. OR, you could make it so that both materials MUST be natural i.e. branches, sticks, leaves, flowers etc.
You must make the exterior of the volcano as sophisticated, realistic, or creative as you can. Perhaps you could use gravel and dirt to press into the clay to make it realistic. Or you could press flowers into the surface to make it bright and creative. Give your volcano a name. Once the timer buzzes, the time is up and you must cease your volcano-creating. Do not put the vinegar or the soda into the volcano until after the timer has buzzed. The allotted time is purely for creating the volcano itself. Carefully put the volcanoes next to each other so they can be compared.
When it’s time, each team can pour their vinegar and food coloring into the vessel, along with anything else they have found. Once that is done, each team can then put the baking soda into the vessel on the count of 3. Stand back and admire the explosions!
Remember: you can also use your extra materials inside the volcano. For example, maybe you came across some glitter and you want to see what effect it would give to your lava eruption.
The winner is generally the team who has created the most impressive looking volcano, and has the most explosive eruption. But you can create sub-categories too. For example: best aesthetic, prettiest volcano, highest eruption, most colorful eruption etc.
Blowing shimmery, floaty bubbles never seems to get old! This kindergarten favorite can be enjoyed by people of all ages. When daily life is so stressful, why not get back to basics and relax with this fun and gentle game?
How many people: at least 3
What you need: water, a bucket or vessel, dishwashing detergent, glycerin if you have it, or some sugar
How to play:
First, make the bubble mixture. The ratio is approximately 2 liters of water to ½ cup of dishwashing liquid. If you have glycerin, add 1 tablespoon of it to the mixture. You can add a couple of tablespoons of sugar if you prefer, and mix it around so that it dissolves. You can play this game individually, or in teams.
The idea behind the game is simply to create the best and biggest bubbles using anything EXCEPT a traditional bubble stick. You can use hands, leaves, or anything else you can find within a set area. For example; you might decide that the “scavenging” area is “between 2 fences and no further than the pavement”. You can incorporate both outside and inside boundaries too. You might even say “anything from anywhere”!
Each team or solo player can choose 5 items, (hands included) to use as the bubble-maker. Once all items have been collected, the teams come back together and try out their items for a set amount of time. You can alter and craft your items into certain shapes and sizes as you experiment with them. Once the allotted experiment time is over (decide upon time limits before the game starts), all teams must congregate together and have the grand “bubble performance”. It can be really handy to have an impartial judge who decides the winner.
The winning team is the team who can create the best and biggest bubbles with their creative materials.
Chemistry takes a backseat with this game, and lets physics take center stage. Bridge Wars involves building, strategizing, planning and teamwork. An inexpensive game, you can simply use any household or garden items you have lying around.
How many people: at least 2
What you need: anything you can find which can be manipulated into a structure. I recommend: old newspapers, magazines, dried spaghetti or straight noodles, tape, string, old chopsticks or skewers, just make sure there’s enough to give equal amounts to each team/individual contestant. You will also need something to use as a weight, this can be a glass, some garden rocks, a book…anything!
How to play:
Like the volcano challenge, this game starts off with supplying each team or solo builder with equal amounts of chosen materials.
Get into your teams and find a nice spot away from the other teams; you don’t want them peering over to your building site to see what amazing ideas you are cooking up. Once the game begins, start to brainstorm how to make the BEST bridge you possibly can with the materials you have been given. The aim is to create the sturdiest structure which can withstand a weighted object. The same weighted object will be applied to all bridges at the end of the game.
Before the game starts you can all decide unanimously on different competition factors such as:
- Will there be a time limit? i.e. you only have 45 minutes to complete the task?
- Is there a height and length requirement? i.e. all bridges must be at least 30cm high and 50cm long?
- Will you add a bonus win for the highest bridge?
- Will you create different testing rounds to see how much the bridge can withstand without collapsing or bending? (the standard testing is to place a weighted object on the bridge for an agreed-upon amount of time)
There are actually so many variations of this game. You can apply the general concept and rules to many different kinds of structures such as towers and ramps. This game gets you thinking strategically and forces you to get your head around the science behind infrastructure. When you think about it, we rely on other people’s structural expertise every day. Each time we cross a bridge, enter a building, or simply walk down the street, we are trusting that the buildings around us have been created in a way that keeps us safe and secure. Kids who might have an interest in architecture or building can really benefit from this game. All that aside…it is a really fun and satisfying game!
Science rules everything we do. However, exploring science doesn’t have to mean lab coats, beakers and scary chemicals! You can conduct safe and easy science experiments and games in your backyard by using all kinds of random household and garden objects. Science and creativity go hand in hand, so it’s a great way to bond with family and friends while learning and expanding your mind at the same time.