School's out and suddenly long days of uninterrupted boredom loom on the horizon. But what if you were the type of parent who could turn a pizza box into a solar oven to bake chocolate chip cookies? Or maybe gather the kids to launch a water balloon from a catapult you help them create from a coat hanger, rubber band and spoon?
If you're thinking, "There's no way I could figure out how to do either of those," you might want to visit the Museum of Science and Industry's website. The museum's free, online science program-Summer Brain Games-offers eight weeks of at-home experiments for families done with no-cost or low-cost items.
The all-ages activities were designed by the museum's team of educators, who came up with ideas that fit the summer theme and could be done mostly with items people have around the house, says Nicole Kowrach, director of teaching and learning at MSI.
"So yesterday's pizza box can be used to build a solar oven. It's pretty cool and it's amazing just how hot those ovens can get," Kowrach said. And yes, they did bake chocolate chip cookies in one.
The Brain Games program includes all instructions needed to walk even the most science-deficient parents through each experiment.
"The idea is that we want parents to be thinking about engaging with science. It's fun and you don't have to have complicated equipment or background knowledge to do these experiments with your children," Kowrach said.
By signing up for the online program, kids also receive a pass for a free child's admission to MSI. To sign up, visit msichicago.org/summerbrain.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.