Poke holes in bags filled with water, create minor explosions, and more!
We all want our little Einsteins to tinker and experiment—but we don’t always want them to do it near nice furniture. So how about taking all that drippy genius outside? Whether you want to play with paint-laden pendulums or watch epic (but safe!) explosions, making a mess is half the fun. These easy outdoor science experiments for kids allow you to set up for science in the backyard, but if you’re looking for indoor ideas, check out our ultimate list of science experiments for kids.
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Make a Sundial
Unravel the mysteries of time. Or at least figure out the basics by setting up a sundial outdoor science experiment. Take time each hour to check the sun’s positioning and make note of it so your sidekick can see the bigger picture.
Here's a physics and an art lesson in one fun activity! Kids will learn about the forces of gravity and motion by designing a pendulum that can paint. Use watered-down craft paint and capture your art on paper, or mix your own sidewalk chalk paint and make swirled masterpieces on your driveway. Innovation Kids Lab has easy instructions.
Insider tip: while you're outside on the sidewalk, check out these great sidewalk science experiments for serious non-stop fun.
Make Your Own Bouncy Balls
A little glue, some corn starch, and borax powder are all you'll need to make bouncy balls worthy of a gumball machine. Kids will have almost as much fun playing with these balls as they do making them. Get the simple instructions for this backyard science experiment at Kids Activities Blog—or, if you only have clear glue, find an alternate recipe here.
Make Elephant Toothpaste
This is one of those oldies but goodies the kids will want to do again and again (so stock up on hydrogen peroxide and yeast now). This one guarantees a fun, foamy chemical reaction—with just a few simple steps. Scientific American has a great tutorial here.
Make Simple Explosions
Looking for a science experiment with a little POP? This easy science project takes cues from the vinegar-and-baking-soda bandwagon but does so with a bang. Get the easy steps for (harmless) explosive action at Science Bob (There's a great video to watch here, too.). Perfect for a day of science in the backyard.
Related: 60+ Science Experiments for Kids to Try at Home
Floating Beach Balls
Kids may not fully understand what Bernoulli's Principle is, but they'll love seeing it in action as they watch a beach ball "magically" floating above a leaf blower—even at an angle! Get the instructions (and other fun leaf-blower experiments) at Fizzics Education.
See Photosynthesis in Action
It’s the things that kids can’t see that make science so exciting, and also a little confusing. That’s why we love this surprisingly simple experiment from Edventures with Kids. With a few supplies and a bit of wait time, your budding botanist can “see” photosynthesis in action.
Polymer Chains Experiment
Before you start this experiment, have your sidekick predict what will happen when they start pushing pencils through a water-filled bag. They'll have the chance to (literally) poke holes in their own theory once they give it a try, thanks to the polymer chains that keep the plastic from leaking. Get the important details to set up at Steve Spangler Science.
The (air) pressure’s on in this sweet outdoor science experiment that lets your kids levitate water over an unsuspecting friend’s… or better yet, a deserving sibling’s head. To try it at home, follow these easy instructions from Steve Spangler Science, and keep a towel at the ready… just to be on the safe side!
What Do We Do All Day proves once again that science doesn’t have to be boring with this exciting experiment that’s a study in propulsion as much as it is a fast-paced racing game. Use her helpful suggestions to really delve into (and add scientific challenges to) this project. Get ready, get set, go!
Related: 20 Sidewalk Science Projects to Try Outside Today
DIY Tide Pools
The ebb and flow of ocean waters is the focus of this experiment designed by Buggy and Buddy. Find out how to set up the microcosmic world in your backyard, using a few easy-to-find supplies. Then let your budding oceanographer loose on this fun backyard science activity.
Make Sun Prints Fabric
You gotta love a two-fer! Our current fave is this gorgeous art project from Tinkerlab that doubles as a backyard science experiment. All it takes is a little sunlight and artistic vision to give this one a try!
Make Simple Machines
How far? How high? And how many? These are just a few of the questions your budding physicist will be able to answer after he builds a simple lever machine. Find out how to put it all together and design easy experiments at Buggy and Buddy. Who knew snow in the summer could be so fun?
Keep Paper Dry in Water
This backyard science experiment will leave your kids wondering how the paper towel stayed dry… even after they dunk it in water. Psst… the secret’s in the air trapped inside the cup. Get more details from Cool Science Experiments Headquarters.