Summer and science may not sound like they go together, but the Museum of Science and Industry has found a way to create easy science projects for families while school's out. MSI's Summer Brain Games program is eight weeks of free and fun at-home science experiments that explore summer themes like gardening, sunlight and sprinklers.
"This is not only a chance for children to learn about science, but it's very focused on family learning," says Bryan Wunar, director of community initiatives at MSI. "It's an opportunity for parents to learn along with their children."
Each week from June 17-Aug. 12 there will be a new experiment on MSI's website or emailed to those who register. Families can download the directions or the entire Summer Brain Drain guide in either English or Spanish. Most of the needed items can be found at home or inexpensively purchased at the hardware or grocery store.
"We're trying to show that science isn't always about advanced technical equipment," Wunar says. "We're talking about everyday things where you can build something or do something and then hopefully think about how that happens or works."
MSI's staff created the projects, which include creating a pinhole viewer, building a weather station and growing plants in a hydroponic garden. The projects also can be tweaked depending on kids' ages.
Each family that registers gets a free family pass to the museum, and each week, a family will win a family membership to MSI.
Participants are encouraged to submit photos and videos of their projects. Those who submit at least one project and a brief essay of what they learned will be entered for a family tech package of a notebook computer, iPad and digital camera.
Families can register for the program at msichicago.org/summerbrain.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.