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Winning Science Projects for 2nd Graders

by Erica Loop

Second-graders have the skills to start delving more deeply into scientific investigations, according to educational experts at PBS Parents. In earth science, physical science and life science, children in second grade can create an array of science projects that provide them with opportunities to explore the world around them, connect math to science, communicate their ideas, use the tools of the trade and explore the scientific process all while getting hands-on experience.

Earthy Adventures

Sedimentary rocks offer a top-tier option for a winning science project in the earth sciences. Second-grade students can learn how sedimentary rocks form, by layers of different particles condensing, with this educational experiment from the Science Buddies website. Collect natural materials such as small pebbles, sand or soil, and pour them into a clear plastic bottle. Add enough water to cover up the materials, capping it off and allowing the water to evaporate. have your child explore and identify the different layers of sediment that form as a result. Another option is to sift out a handful of dirt using a strainer and running water. Ask the student to predict what will stay in the strainer and what won't. Take a look at the sediment that remains, having your child record what he sees or take photos.

Let's Get Physical

Second-graders still can conduct physical science experiments like pros, even if they aren't as developmentally ready to work with chemicals as high school or college students. PBS Parents suggests using the kitchen as a backdrop for physical science projects that early elementary school children can use to explore reactions, changes and transformation. Instead of just watching ice freeze, add a few drops of food coloring to make the experiment more exciting. Have the child predict what will happen when the color drops into the water in an ice cube tray, also asking what she thinks will happen after the tray spends a few hours in the freezer. You also can try a simple reaction experiment, using basic kitchen items such as vinegar, water, cornstarch, baking soda and lemon juice. Have your student mix the different substances, predicting how they will react and then making observations.

The Circle of Life

Second-grade students can explore the life cycle with a plant or animal project. According to the Science Project Lab website, second-graders can explore how seeds spread and germinate with an at-home activity. Collect or buy seeds or use a seedy dandelion. Have the child act like a bird dropping seeds into a pot of soil or blow a fluffy dandelion that's gone to seed over a planter of dirt. Water the seeds regularly and record the growth. Another option is to study the life-cycle of a butterfly by starting with a caterpillar and observing it as it goes through a metamorphosis. Have the child take or draw pictures during each step in the cycle to document the activity.

Egg Drop

Explore the effects of gravity with your second-grader during an egg-drop experiment. This time-tested activity allows children to better understand the impact that gravity has, while encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Brainstorm ways to pad the egg for its drop. For example, the Weird Science Kids website suggests using plastic baggies with rice cereal as egg pillows or taping foam cups around the egg. Have an adult drop the egg -- in its contraption -- from a deck or a similar high space. The child can check the egg to see how it fared, or you can try a few different drops from varying heights to make a comparison.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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