It’s simple to turn spring yard clearing into a fun science activity for the kids! As you rake and clear, have your kids collect different objects for an “air race.” An air race is our name for an air resistance experiment to compare the rates of descent for different objects dropped from the same height.
Gather your collection. The kids were excited collecting things as we cleaned (a huge bonus, as it made cleaning up so much easier!). They selected leaves, pine cones, sticks, rocks, freshly cut grass and gumballs to “race” to see which fell the most quickly.
Explore the objects. We felt each object, passing it from hand to hand. We commented on which ones felt the heaviest, which ones took up the most space, and how each one felt (rough, brittle, soft, etc…).
What will happen? We talked about what we thought would happen when they fell. Which would take longest, which objects would “win” the air race.
Find a (small) ledge. Then we went to our (short) stone wall, lined up some of the objects, and let the kids drop them.
Drop. Collect. Drop again. We did this over and over. They tried dropping things one at a time, or dropping a few things together. With the lighter objects (leaves, blades of grass, weed clippings), they tried tossing them up and watching them fall.
Discuss. As we played we talked about how the leaf took longer to fall than the rocks or sticks. And how 2 similarly sized rocks fell at about the same speed. We didn’t talk about the actual scientific principles at play, but they were exposed to them through our activity.
We didn’t actually discuss air resistance or gravity, because that would really just be words to my little guys at this point. This type of hands-on activity is a fun way for them to see it in action for themselves!