Are you wondering how you can sharpen your child’s science skills in a fun way this summer? All aspects of the scientific method can easily be incorporated into your outdoor activities. Whether it’s making observations of how a certain animal behaves, forming a question about the visible stars in the sky, or examining how different objects move, there’s definitely at least one fun way to incorporate science into your child’s summer schedule.

Although summers are painfully hot in Arizona, mornings are a great time to go out for a hike. Along the way, there are sure to be many wild plants and animals to study. Creatures in Arizona have very unique characteristics, called physical adaptations, which enable them to survive with high temperatures and small amounts of water. They also behave in particular ways to help them with the extreme conditions. You can ask your child questions, such as the following, to engage them:

  1. What features does this plant/animal (Saguaro, Gambel Quail, etc.) have that enable it to survive the desert conditions?
  2. Why do you see more creatures out in the evening and early morning rather than during the middle of the day?
  3. What human behaviors interfere with desert organisms’ chance of survival? How can this be prevented?

If you’re able to head up North to escape the heat for a camping trip, the nighttime sky is a fabulous learning tool. You can ask your child questions like the ones listed, and you can encourage your child to come up with their own questions to explore too.

  1. Why are we able to see the moon? What causes us to see different amounts of the moon on different days?
  2. Why is the Big Dipper in a different place depending on the time of year?
  3. What are stars and why can we only see them at night?

Going to a water park is a great way to pass time in the heat. These days water slides seem more like roller coasters. They have high pitches, twist and turn, and even go upside down. Not only are they thrilling and refreshing, but they can also offer a learning opportunity for physics-related concepts. You might ask your child:

  1. What is the importance of water on the slide?
  2. How does the principle of gravity apply to a water slide? Why can you go faster on a steep slide than a relatively flat one? Why don’t you fall out when the slide goes upside down?
  3. Why does using a raft or mat allow you to travel faster down a slide?

Possible questions are endless. If you don’t know the answer to some of the questions yourself, you can theorize, do some research online, or even create hypotheses to test with your child. Science is everywhere. Why not tap into it during your summer fun?