NOTE: Only general ideas are given for this theme. Be sure to explore ideas online or at your local library.
1. Lots of water.
The surface of our planet is cover by 71% of water. Even today new creatures are discovered in the oceans. Ships, such as the Titanic, sit in its depths. Prepare an exhibit showing what exists beneath the waves.
2. Types of waterways.
Oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, creeks and more are different names for waterways. How is each defined? Compare and contrast the life living in and round each type of waterway. Create a color sheet, large display, etc. that shows the waterway, its inhabitants, the surroundings, etc. Then use these elements for your exhibit.
3. World water monitoring.
Monitoring water in your area is part of a larger initiative with the World Water Monitoring Challenge. Learn about the test kits and what they monitor in 51 countries.
4. Testing water.
Water has a neutral pH (7). A strong acid is 1 and 14 is very alkaline (base). Testing various liquids to determine how close they are to water might be one activity. Use red cabbage water as your indicator. Acids will turn red; bases will turn blue. Discuss the properties of these three and their uses as well as experimenting with them is another. How else might you “test” water?
5. Safe to drink?
How can you make water safe to drink? Survival reality shows point out that the water isn’t always safe. Create an exhibit showing the ways to purify water. You might also show how to get the salt out of water to make it drinkable. A volunteer should do this experiment for visitors. Then, ask if anyone is brave enough to try the water.
6. What’s in the water?
A local park used to have a program where the kids joined the scientist in gathering water samples for testing, counting baby crayfish and fish and more at the mouth of the Little Calumet River. Select a section of a waterway. Create your own way to track water, aquatic creatures and more over the long term. Be sure to let the kids see how the data they collect becomes part of a larger view of the waterway.
7. Flowing water.
While we saw this at a zoo, it is a great activity for kids when it’s hot. In a concrete shoot, run clean water. Place rocks in the shoot that the kids can move around to create dams and change the flow of water. If they get wet, this is even better!
You can move this project indoors by building tables with channels, tubes and obstacles to change the flow of water and more. You can see a few images under Experience > Waterways at the Chicago Children’s Museum (www.chicagochildrensmuseum.org).
8. Float or sink.
Provide a group of items to see if they float or sink, letting your visitors guess before they test. Include items that can float or sink depending on circumstances like how they are placed. You could also use items such as mothballs with water, baking soda, vinegar mix to make both floating and sinking possible. Explore ways to expand this into an exhibit.
9. Cartesian diver.
In a two-liter bottle with water, you can put a variety of different items with air in them that will float or sink depending on the pressure you put on the bottle. Experiment with items and find a couple that work.
10. Liquid layers.
Tap water doesn’t mix with all liquids. Provide different liquids and create layers. You can also add items like eggs that seem to float on one while sinking through another (salt water and tap water). Marbling paper is an excellent way to demonstrate this effect.
11. Buried treasure.
Demonstrate how archaeologists use special balloons to raise items they find at the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the water. Create an exhibit that demonstrates this concept.
12. Ice balloons.
Go to exploratorium.edu and find the Ice Balloons experiment. It includes multiple experiments with one ice balloon. Find other experiments that deal with ice.
Bubbles can be messy, but they’re a lot of fun. We’ve stood inside a bubble maker. It was a hula hoop that dipped into bubble solution around your feet and as you pulled the rope, it pulled the hoop up and the bubble was around you. You can also supply different shaped “wands” and discuss why square- and triangular-shaped wands still make round bubbles. How can you make non-round bubbles? Experiment with materials not only for your bubble solution but wand materials as well.
14. Explore more!
Find more ways to explore and experiment with water. Include those in your exhibit ideas.
- How to Purify Water
- Scramble: Water
SUPP_WF_Seas of the World.pdf
- Word Find: Seas of the World
- Word Find: Water
- Exhibit Planner — Pre-planning and testing questions
- Scientific Inquiry — Printables for use with any exhibit theme
Sites to Explore
To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_SCX_Water