The doors to the New York Hall of Science in Flushing may be temporarily closed due to the pandemic, but that has not stopped the innovative proprietors from sharing many of its attractions online.
“NYSCI offers a wide range of activities in which children of all ages can engage, that build upon our signature approach to STEM learning — Design, Make, Play. It’s about providing them with agency over their choices and creating delight as children learn about STEM concepts through discovery,” said Brian Avenius, the museum’s chief marketing and business development officer, in response to an email inquiry.
There are, in fact, so many activities available at your fingertips that Avenius approaches them from an interesting angle.
“There are activities in which children can engage on their own and some that create opportunities for parents or caregivers to participate in the fun,” he explained.
In addition, he said that “there are activities with instruction in both English and Spanish, as well as activities for children who are strong visual learners and thinkers, especially children with autism.”
Dozens of resources are offered online, with new content added frequently, the museum says. It’s all at nysci.org. Participants can get new at-home activities and projects emailed to them every week.
Among the collaborative parent-guided activities are several particularly interesting ones.
“Acrylic Paint Marbling” allows participants to make beautiful wooden, painted marbled creations using paint and water and everyday household materials.
According to NYSCI’s website, it offers an opportunity to “bring common recyclable materials back to life in creative new ways.”
The process involves floating acrylic paint on top of a base of thickened water, swirling and moving the paint into unique patterns, then dipping a piece of wood that will be stained with the pattern.
The needed materials include pieces of thin scrap wood, a container to dip the wood into, cold water, corn starch, acrylic paint, a pot and heating element, toothpicks, containers for paint and something to drip paint, such as popsicle sticks or chopsticks.
Detailed instructions, along with large, colorful illustrations are provided for this and many of the other on-line activities.
Sensory play, or any activity that stimulates the senses, is put into practice with “Fizzy Dough,” a fun, colorful experiment that creates a moldable dough that fizzes and pops when the secret ingredient (shh! it’s vinegar) is added.
Among the other materials needed to create this cool chemical reaction are flour, baking soda and oil. Food coloring is optional but recommended for maximum fun!
As the museum’s website indicates, sensory play is crucial for cognitive, emotional and physical development of both children and adults. Sensory activities encourage exploration of materials and processes, rather than focusing on the end product.
A series of relevant questions is provided to challenge all those who give the experiment a shot.
A more involved activity is “Shake, Rattle and Roll — An Earthquake Simulation,” which helps answer the question as to why buildings collapse during earthquakes.
This activity investigates how a house collapses and how to build structures to test various ways to withstand an earthquake. Preparing the earthquake simulator requires two pieces of cardboard, four marbles, two large rubber bands, tape and a device with the science journal app. Creating the actual structures calls for such items as construction paper, graham crackers and sugar cubes.
Participants are asked to make predictions as to what will happen to the structures they create, to evaluate the test results, and to redesign their structures accordingly.
All those who take part in any of the activities are asked to share their creations by tagging @nysci on social media.
Next week: Activities children can engage in on their own.