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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Wacky Weather

I spend a lot of time thinking about the weather. Maybe it has to do with growing up in the Boston area where it can be sunny and warm on the way to work and blizzard conditions on the commute home. I hate to be cold, and I am always worried that I won’t have the right gear for the outdoors. I also like to talk about the weather, compare seasons to other years, and make fun of weather forecasters. It’s in my roots!
One of the big selling points for our move to Southern California was the warm weather and sunny skies. For over 7 months now I have tried to educate myself about layering clothing, the Santa Ana winds, the 40 degree temperature difference between my town and the beach, fire weather, and UV rays. But in a strikingly New Englandish way, the weather in my area has been anything but predictable and “normal.”
The weather forecasters are calling for SNOW in our area this weekend. Really?!
I don’t know what to think! Do I pull out the boots and parkas? Should I drive the boys into the foothills to enjoy the snowfall? Didn’t I move 3,000 miles to escape winter? It might just mean that the snow followed me. There must be a scientific explanation!
In a further burst of irony, I planned to conduct science experiments with Leo this week about the weather. He received a cool Sid the Science Kid Learning Science Kit over the holidays. The kit, called Why Do I Need a Jacket? contains fun tools for exploring weather. I like it because it has experiments like the ones on the show and online, but the tools are included. There is also a science journal, which Leo was quite interested in.
Since it is raining today, we decided to set up the rain gauge to see how much rainfall we could measure. The kit provided great questions about the sky, along with the scientific names for some clouds. Leo is always so happy to put on his froggy coat and yellow rain boots. We tromped into the back yard and stuck the gauge in the dirt. It’s been there all day and we keep checking on it. Even though the rain had been falling steadily, the gauge is not filling very much.
My favorite item in the kit is the UV bead bracelets. We spent a bit of time threading the beads onto the bracelet. Easier said that done! I explained to Leo that the clear beads would change color outside with the UV rays. We talked about our previous sunscreen experiment how the sun can be harmful to our skin. Then I asked him to predict if the colors on the bracelet would change. Remember, it was raining outside. We both predicted the beads would not change colors.
The proof is in the scientific evidence!
UV rays are present in the daytime, even when it is raining! We were so surprised. Leo kept the bracelets on in the car to when we went to pick Henry up from school so beads changed to clear again. It was so great for Leo to have the immediate cause and effect relationship to observe. We had a lot to talk about in the car. I am looking forward to expanding on the activity on a sunny day. Will the beads be brighter? What will happen if we put sunscreen on the beads? We can’t wait to find out.
The great thing about a science kit aimed at preschoolers is the hands-on, exploratory nature of the tools and activities. I even learned something valuable too: sunscreen is necessary on cloudy days! I may even have to take the bracelets with me as we frolic in the southern California snow!
How do you explore the weather with your kids? What kinds of conversations to your have with your kids about the weather?

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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