Getting Started with Earth Science

Most kids are fascinated by the nighttime sky. The idea that those twinkling lights could be other solar systems with new worlds circling around makes kids want to make rockets out of cardboard boxes and jet fuel from ketchup.

The experiments in this section are geared to show your child how easy and fun it can be to start to discover the galaxy we call home by doing simple experiments that focus on observation and asking questions.

This set of simple science experiments gets kids introduced into what a real scientist does in the real world by building a weather station experiment and recording data in their first science journal (even if they can’t write yet). Students place tick marks on their data sheets to see how the weather changes from day to day and across the seasons.

Here are the scientific concepts:

  • Weather is the combination of sunlight, wind, snow or rain, and temperature in a particular region at a particular time. People measure these conditions to describe and record the weather and to notice patterns over time.
  • Some kinds of severe weather are more likely than others in a given region. Weather scientists forecast severe weather so that the communities can prepare for and respond to these events.
  • Asking questions, making observations, and gathering information are helpful in thinking about problems.
  • The Earth is composed of land, air and water.
  • Characteristics of mountains, rivers, oceans, valleys, deserts, and local landforms.
  • Changes in weather occur from day to day and over seasons, affecting the Earth and its inhabitants.
  • How to identify resources from the Earth that are used in everyday life, and that many resources can be conserved

By the end of the labs in this unit, students will be able to:

  • Observe common objects using the five senses.
  • Describe the properties of common objects.
  • Describe the relative position of objects using one reference (e.g., above or below).
  • Compare and sort common objects based on one physical attribute (including color, shape, texture, size, weight).
  • Communicate observations orally and in drawings.

Select a Lesson

Thermometer
First invented in the 1600s, thermometers measure temperature using a sensor (the bulb tip) and a scale. Temperature is a way of talking about, measuring, and comparing the thermal energy of objects. We use three different kinds of scales to measure temperature. Fahrenheit, Celsius, and Kelvin. (The fourth, Rankine, which is the absolute scale for …Continue reading”Thermometer”
Hygrometer
Hygrometers measure how much water is in the air, called humidity. If it’s raining, it’s 100% humidity. Deserts and arid climates have low humidity and dry skin. Humidity is very hard to measure accurately, but scientists have figured out ways to measure how much moisture is absorbed by measuring the change in temperature (as with …Continue reading”Hygrometer”
Anemometer
Most weather stations have anemometers to measure wind speed or wind pressure. The kind of anemometer we’re going to make is the same one invented back in 1846 that measures wind speed. Most anemometers use three cups, which is not only more accurate but also responds to wind gusts more quickly than a four-cup model. …Continue reading”Anemometer”
Barometer
A barometer uses either a gas (like air) or a liquid (like water or mercury) to measure pressure of the atmosphere. Scientists use barometers a lot when they predict the weather, because it’s usually a very accurate way to predict quick changes in the weather. Barometers have been around for centuries – the first one …Continue reading”Barometer”
Rain Gauge
Also known as an udometer or pluviometer or ombrometer, or just plan old ‘rain cup’, this device will let you know how much water came down from the skies. Folks in India used bowls to record rainfall and used to estimate how many crops they would grow and thus how much tax to collect! These …Continue reading”Rain Gauge”
Sensing Temperature
Have you ever wondered how an ice-cold glass of water gets waterdrops on the outside of the cup? Where does that water come from? Does it ease it’s way through the glass? Did someone come by and squirt the glass with water? No of course not.