National Science Week Activities for Kids (2021)

Holly (Teach Starter)

Written by Holly (Teach Starter)

Are you looking for some fun and engaging national science week activities for kids around the 2021 theme – Food: Different By Design? National Science Week is quickly approaching, beginning on the 14th of August and running through to the 22 August. And, it’s a great opportunity to explore the role of science in food production and sustainable agriculture.

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Growing an avacado from a seed activity for kids / Marija Stepanovic

National Science Week Activities for 2021

  • Transform cream into butter in a jar.
  • Learn about yeast and how it’s alive with a fun science experiment.
  • Grow vegetables from seeds with daily observations.
  • For a little bit of fun, make an editable grass head.
  • Design your own vegetable garden.
  • Create a scientific photo booth for your classroom.
  • Join in the Governer Generals Science Week Design challenge.

We’ve put together some of the above ideas that you can use in your classroom to explore some of the more simple topics surrounding this year’s theme. It can be hard to departmentalise such a big topic for younger kids – so we’ve tried to pick activities that are both interesting and fun – but serve a purpose. We’ll break each activity down and talk about its purpose below.

Activity 1 – Making Butter in a Jar

Students learn about how many dairy products come from milk. You might also like to talk about the different diary products and their place on the Healthy Eating Plate.

What you need:

  • mason jar
  • thickened cream
  • 2 marbles

What to do:

  1. First, you need to pour some thickened cream into the mason jar (about 1/2 full), there needs to be enough air in the jar.
  2. Leave it out of the fridge until it gets to room temperature – this decreases the amount of shaking you’ll need to do in the next step.
  3. Put the 2 marbles in the jar – the marbles help to agitate the cream further.
  4. Then you need to shake… and shake… and shake some more.
  5. Separate the butter from the buttermilk.

Have your students document the different stages the cream will go through to get to butter. You might like to use our Science Journal template for this.

The science behind how this happens is that when you are shaking the fresh cream, the fat molecules in the cream shake out of position and start to clump together. After shaking for a while the fat molecules keep clumping together until you have made a lump of butter. The liquid that is left is called buttermilk.

Kids making butter from cream / Africa Studio

Activity 2 – ‘It’s Alive’ Yeast Science Experiment

For this activity – it is best that you start this at the start of the day as you’ll need several hours for the science experiment to work.

Students learn about how to make bread and the very cool ingredient – yeast. Show your students what yeast looks like straight from the packet – then add a bit of warm water and take a look at what happens. You might like to watch this video about how bread is made, where they talk about how yeast is used to make bread.

Now, discuss the question, ‘What do living things need to grow?’ They need water and food. This science experiment is going to show what happens to yeast when you give them some food. The food of choice is going to be sugar! When you mix yeast with water and sugar, the organism of yeast will ‘burp’ and release carbon dioxide. But what happens if you change the amount of food you give the yeast? Will it produce more carbon dioxide?

What you need:

  • four plastic bottles
  • four balloons (be mindful to do this as a teacher-directed experiment rather than small groups to limit the amount of balloons used)
  • four yeast packets
  • granulated sugar
  • warm water
  • funnel
  • measuring cup
  • teaspoon

What to do:

  1. Pour 1 cup of very warm water into each of the bottles.
  2. Add one packet of yeast into each of the bottles.
  3. Add teaspoons of sugar into each bottle – this is the variant that we are changing – so 0 teaspoons, 1 teaspoon, 2 teaspoons and 3 teaspoons.
  4. Put the lid on each of the bottles and shake them well – invite kids up to do this together.
  5. Take the lids off and place a balloon on the top of each bottle.
  6. Let the bottles sit all day.

Activity 3 – Replant Vegetable Seeds

In this activity, students are learning about how most vegetables can be regrown from a seed. It’s also a great opportunity to touch on inspiring your students to eat healthily, reduce food waste and become more educated on food sustainability. For more ideas, check out the blog we wrote about Food Sustainability and Nutrition Education with OzHarvest’s FEAST.

Check out these super cool ways to regrow different vegetables and fruit. Pick one of them to add to your school vegetable patch!

 Activity 4 – Make Edible Grass Heads

Learn about the importance of the right amount of water, enough light and the right temperature in order for seeds to thrive in this fun edible grass heads activity. You might like to experiment with the cotton wool and potentially soil in the eggs – does one grow better?

You might like to use our sorting activity teaching resource as an introduction to planting seedlings, as well as how plants change as they grow.

For the older students you might like to use our Science Experiment – How Does Soil Affect Seed Growth? In this experiment, it is suggested to use snow pea seeds so will link in well with the food science topic.

Activity 5 – Design Your Own Vegetable Garden

There is a fantastic PDF of activity ideas and curriculum links over on the official National Science Week website. One of the amazing activities on page 61 of the Food by Design Teacher Book is the designing of a vegetable garden. The objective of the task is for students to work in groups to design a vegetable garden as a way of experiencing the faming process.

In this design project, the students will have to:

  • Set a budget for their garden
  • Create a garden that occupies a restricted amount of space
  • Plan out the planting and harvesting of the vegetables
  • Use a spreadsheet to keep track of costs.

We have a similar resource – Garden Design Project that you may be able to use and adapt to suit the needs of the above task.

Design your own vegetable garden for kids activity / Robert Kneschke

Activity 6 – Science-Themed Photo Booth

Have a little bit of fun with these super cool printable science-themed photo booth props to use in the classroom to celebrate science in general.

You could even encourage your students to come dressed as a scientist one day during Science Week.

Science-themed photo booth props for kids

Activity 7 – Get Involved in the Science Week Challenge

This live, one-hour virtual workshop is set to be a valuable experience for upper primary students to use design thinking in a hands-on and highly interactive way for deeper learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This live will be held on 16 August – the link for the Zoom will become available on the Governor General’s Science Week Design Challenge page.

There is a list of items you will need to organise for the students if you decide to join this virtual workshop. Students will be involved in an interactive workshop where they will be building their very own water filter. The students will be joining Questcon presenters – experts in the field! What a fantastic opportunity…

Here are some other blogs you may be interested in:

We’d love to hear how you’re celebrating National Science Week with your students – share your ideas on the Teach Starter Facebook page – Teacher Talk.

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