Best Outdoor Science Activities and Projects That Are Fun and Engaging

ByAlyssa R. Elliott

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The only thing more fun than hands-on science is taking it outside! These outdoor science activities are perfect for taking advantage of sunny days. You’ll only need simple supplies for most of these, so any teacher or family can head out to learn about chemistry, biology, physics, and more!

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Table of Contents

1. Gaze at the clouds

Frame made of wood craft sticks framing a cloud in the sky (Outdoor Science Activities)

Look up and take some time to admire the clouds! Craft this cute “cloud viewer” and find a cloud in the sky. Then, identify what type it is, and learn more about how clouds form.

Learn more: Cloud Viewer—Little Bins for Little Hands

2. Fly a kite

Children flying homemade kites in the evening

You can learn a lot about physics when you make and fly your own kite. Experiment with different designs to see whose kite flies the highest or the longest.

Learn more: Inner Child Fun

3. Wrap a watermelon in rubber bands …

Students wrapping rubber bands around a small watermelon (Outdoor Science Activities)

You’ve probably seen videos of this making the rounds online, so why not try it out yourself? This is one of those outdoor science activities that’s easy to do, but make sure you wear safety equipment like goggles.

Learn more: 123 Homeschool 4 Me

4. Assemble a nest

Small nest built from sticks, yarn, feathers, and more

Birds build intricate nests, and they make it look easy. Can you do the same? Gather some materials outdoors, and try to make your own nest.

Learn more: Views From a Step Stool

5. Explore one square foot

Kids examining the flora and fauna in one square foot of ground (Outdoor Science Activities)

There’s an amazing amount of life in every square foot of nature. Grab your magnifying glasses or microscope, and take a closer look at the ground you walk on every day.

Learn more: One Square Foot—Little Bins for Little Hands

6. Explode a DIY seed pod

Students popping a balloon and letting the seeds inside fly on the wind (Outdoor Science)

Find out how some plants spread their seeds far and wide with this cool balloon experiment. Fill it with seeds and air, then pop it outside on a breezy day and watch the seeds fly!

Learn more: Around the Kampfire

7. Send a soda geyser sky-high

Students running away as foam explodes from soda bottles (Outdoor Science)

This is one of those outdoor science activities that simply can’t be done anywhere other than outdoors. Kids will marvel at the chemical reaction that sends diet soda shooting high in the air when Mentos are added.

Learn more: Soda Experiment—Scholastic

8. Compost food scraps in a bottle

Child checking a plastic bottle containing layers of soil, vegetables, and more

Food waste is a big problem, contributing to much of the material that winds up in landfills. Teach kids how to compost with kitchen scraps in a plastic bottle, and use the compost to feed your plants.

Learn more: Busy Mommy Media

9. Grow a carbon sugar snake

Large carbon snake growing out of an aluminum pie plate of sand

If you’re looking for outdoor science activities that are sure to excite your students, try this eye-popping chemical reaction demonstration. You only need simple supplies like sugar, baking soda, and sand, but the element of fire makes this experiment best done outdoors.

Learn more: KiwiCo

10. See the greenhouse effect in action

Glass jar covered in plastic wrap with a thermometer inside, next to a thermometer lying on the ground (Outdoor Science)

Climate change can be a contentious topic, so start by teaching kids about the greenhouse effect, which is easy to see and understand using this simple experiment. Then, urge them to explore data collected by other scientists so they can learn to make informed decisions about topics like global warming.

Learn more: Teaching Science With Lynda

11. Construct a dirt battery

Ice cube tray filled with dirt, with screws and copper wire and small LEDs (Outdoor Science)

This outdoor science project is similar to building a battery from a lemon, but you also get to dig in the dirt! Kids learn about electric currents and conductivity.

Learn more: Dirt Battery—Teach Beside Me

12. Test the power of sunscreen

Two kinds of sunscreen with a piece of black construction paper

We slather kids in sunscreen when they’re playing outside, but do they understand why? Try this fun little experiment, which demonstrates how sunscreen protects from the sun’s harmful rays.

Learn more: STEM Sunscreen Experiment—JDaniel4’s Mom

13. Build a solar oven

Solar ovens built from pizza boxes with s'mores cooking inside

Explore the power of the sun when you build your own solar ovens and use them to cook some yummy treats. The link below has complete instructions.

Learn more: Desert Chica

14. Forecast the weather with pine cones

Four pinecones sitting in a row (Outdoor Science)

Fun fact: Pine cones open and close according to the weather in order to protect or disperse the seeds inside. Use that fact to your advantage and create a pine cone weather station in your backyard.

Learn more: Pine Cones—Science Sparks

15. Construct a LEGO waterwheel course

Child playing with a water course built from LEGO bricks (Outdoor Science)

Are you looking for outdoor science activities for kids who love to build with LEGO bricks? Explore the power of water with a cool homemade LEGO water course that includes a dam and a water wheel. This engineering project is fun to play with when you’re done!

Learn more: LEGO Course—Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls

16. Blast off with bottle rockets

Colorful rocket built from a plastic bottle and a bike pump

A simple adapter kit allows you to turn an empty plastic bottle into a soaring rocket! Kids learn about pressure and Newton’s third law of motion with this perennially popular outside science project.

Learn more: Bottle Rockets—Science Sparks

17. Put together a simple microscope

Cup with plastic wrap over the top, with water on top of the wrap (Outdoor Science)

This DIY microscope isn’t very powerful, but it does magnify small objects so you can see details. It’s also really simple to make. (Looking for a stronger microscope you can take on the go? Try this portable model that hooks up to your cell phone.)

Learn more: Mini Microscope—Childhood 101

18. Create nature discovery bottles

Water bottles with leaves and flowers inside

Stroll through the great outdoors and have kids collect interesting natural objects. Use recycled soda or water bottles to display their specimens.

Learn more: Discovery Bottles—Little Bins for Little Hands

19. Make sun prints

Sunprints of nature objects

You’ll need to buy special paper for this outdoor science project, but it’s easy to find. Kids will love creating their own patterns and experimenting to find which objects work best.

Learn more: PBS for Parents

20. Assemble an anemometer

Anemometer made from egg carton pieces, wood dowels, and a spool (Outdoor Science)

Scientists use anemometers to measure wind speed. Build this DIY version and do some weather science with your class.

Learn more: Pi’ikea Street

21. Find the best soap bubble solution

Student blowing a soap bubble through a bubble wand

It’s easy to mix your own soap bubble solution with just a few ingredients. Let kids experiment to find the best proportion of ingredients to blow the longest-lasting bubbles with this fun outside science activity.

Learn more: Science Buddies—Bubble-ology

22. Blow the biggest bubbles you can

Student creating an enormous soap bubble with string on sticks (Outdoor Science)

Bubbles are part of many fun outdoor science activities. Once you’ve blown the longest-lasting bubbles, move on to creating the largest bubbles you’ve ever seen! Kids learn about surface tension as they engineer these bubble-blowing wands.

Learn more: Giant Bubbles—Scholastic

23. Launch Ping-Pong balls with a catapult

Child stomping on one side of a catapult made with a can and board, launching a ping pong ball into the air

Young kids will simply adore building this basic catapult and watching Ping-Pong balls soar! Older kids can experiment by changing the position of the fulcrum, the length of the board, and the objects being flung.

Learn more: Catapult—Buggy and Buddy

24. Brew some elephant toothpaste

Speaking of foamy messes, elephant toothpaste (okay, it’s not really used by elephants) creates a huge exothermic reaction that will blow kids away!

Learn more: Science Bob

25. Play a game of Nature Bingo

Spring Walk and Fall Walk printable Bingo cards (Outdoor Science)

Give your nature walk more direction by giving students specific items to seek out. You can make your own boards, or hit the link below for free printables for every season.

Learn more: Massachusetts Audubon Society

26. Test out parachutes

Child standing on a stepladder, dropping a toy attached to a paper parachute

Gather a variety of materials (try tissues, handkerchiefs, plastic bags, etc.) and see which ones make the best parachutes. You can also find out how they’re affected on windy days or find out which ones work in the rain.

Learn more: How To Make a ParachuteInspiration Laboratories

27. Start a nature journal

Nature journal made from a paper bag with checklist, blank pages, and pencil (Outdoor Science)

Nature journals are a great way to partner writing and outdoor science while building kids’ observational skills. You can use any sturdy notebook or check out the link below for free printable journal pages and a fun DIY carry-along journal project.

Learn more: Nature Journal—Edventures With Kids

28. Make and plant DIY seed bombs

Use recycled materials to create “seed bombs.” Then plant them in the schoolyard or send kids home to use them in their own gardens. Students learn about ecology, recycling, and plant life cycles.

29. Experiment with limestone rocks

Student pouring water on a large rock in a glass bowl

Kids love to pick up rocks, and there are plenty of great science experiments you can do with them. In this one, you pour vinegar over a rock to see if it bubbles. If it does, you’ve found limestone!

Learn more: Limestone Rocks—Edventures With Kids

30. Contribute to citizen science

Screen shot of Project Noah site showing a spotting of a Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar (Outdoor Science)

Use a cell phone to snap pictures of everything you find on a nature walk, then report those sightings to Project Noah. This citizen science project is dedicated to documenting every living thing on Earth! (Teachers, get ideas for using Project Noah in your classroom here.)

Learn more: Project Noah

31. Turn a bottle into a rain gauge

Rain gauge made from a plastic water bottle

All you need is a plastic bottle, a ruler, and a permanent marker to make your own rain gauge. Monitor your measurements and see how they stack up against meteorology reports in your area.

Learn More: NurtureStore

32. Learn about plant transpiration

Plastic bag taped around the end of a tree branch, enclosing leaves

This simple project demonstrates how plants get rid of excess water they don’t need, a process known as transpiration. The supplies and method are simple enough for anyone to try it.

Learn more: Transpiration—Teach Beside Me

33. Swing a glass of water to learn about centripetal force

Woman holding a board suspended at the corners from string, with three glasses of water on the board (Outdoor Science)

When you do this experiment right, you won’t make a mess at all. But while kids are still getting the hang of swinging glasses of water around their heads, you’ll probably want to make this an outdoor science activity.

Learn more: Sick Science!

34. Learn to identify trees

Jars and bottles containing leaves and pinecones with labels identifying types of trees

Give trees a closer look and learn to identify them by their leaves and seeds. These jars preserve the leaves and seeds for future study, too.

Learn more: Identify Trees—Edventures With Kids

35. Go on a nature scavenger hunt

Printable Five Senses Nature Scavenger Hunt sheet with pencil, rock, leaves, and dandelion (Outdoor Science)

Take kids outdoors to use their five senses with this free printable scavenger hunt activity. They’ll hone their observation skills and learn so much about the world around them.

Learn more: Nature Scavenger Hunt—Childhood 101

36. Help monarch butterflies

Students looking at monarch caterpillars on milkweed

You may have heard that monarch butterflies are struggling to keep their populations alive. Join the fight to save these beautiful insects by planting your own butterfly garden, monitoring monarch populations, and more. Get all the info you need at the link.

Learn more: Monarch Watch

37. Count tree rings to explore dendrochronology

A Tree's Life at a Glance printable lying on a tree trunk (Outdoor Science)

Your students might know you can count tree rings to find out how old the tree is, but do they know why that’s true? Explore dendrochronology using this free printable as a guide.

Learn more: Tree Rings—Edventures With Kids

38. Seek out signs of birds

All About Birds Scavenger hunt printable on a clipboard

Have you ever noticed that birds can be difficult to spot, even though signs of them are all around? This free printable scavenger hunt helps you find evidence that birds live nearby. Just look for nests and food sources and listen for their sounds.

Learn more: Inspiration Labs

39. Attract birds with a DIY bird feeder

Bring all the birds to the yard with this easy recycled bird feeder project. Kids can learn to identify common backyard birds in your area. Visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s educators’ resource page for more ideas.

40. Identify birds with an app

Smartphones showing the Merlin Bird ID app (Outdoor Science)

Some birds are easy to identify, but others stump even longtime bird-watchers. If you’re looking for outdoor science activities for kids who love feathered friends, check out the free Merlin Bird ID app! Snap a pic, answer a few questions, and the app will provide you some probable identifications, just like that.

Learn more: Merlin Bird ID

41. Become a human sundial

Students drawing and measuring their shadows with sidewalk chalk

Choose a sunny day and grab some sidewalk chalk—your students are about to become sundials! They’ll practice measuring skills and learn about the movement of the sun across the sky.

Learn more: Rhythms of Play

42. Harness the power of the wind

Student holding a homemade wind turbine (Outdoor Science)

Wind turbines have become common sights in some parts of the country as we explore alternative energy sources. Build your own to learn how they work with this outdoor science experiment.

Learn more: Build a Wind Turbine—Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls

43. Explode plastic baggies (and make a big mess)

Child stepping on a plastic zipper bag filled with a foaming substance

Vinegar and baking soda experiments are always a big hit with kids, and this one is no exception. They’ll love seeing the bags pop from the chemical reaction, and you’ll be glad the mess is outside.

Learn more: Kids Activities

44. Estimate the height of a tree

Student using a pencil to estimate the height of a tree

Kids work in pairs to estimate the height of a tree in this project that puts the M in STEM. Get a free printable at the link below to walk you through the process.

Learn more: From ABCs to ACTs

45. Build a light box

Student peering into a painted cardboard box with red and blue water bottles inserted into the top

Kids can entertain themselves for hours with a big empty cardboard box. Channel that energy by turning a box into a place to learn about light refraction and reflection, using colored water in plastic bottles.

Learn more: True Aim Education

46. Float a baking-soda-powered boat

Toy boat made from styrofoam, bottle cap, and straws, floating on water

Here’s another experiment using the classic baking powder and vinegar reaction. This one uses it to power these cute little DIY boats! A kiddie pool is the perfect spot for this outside science project.

Learn more: The OT Toolbox

47. Conduct an egg drop

Egg surrounded by paper straws taped together in a pyramid shape (Outdoor Science)

Here’s another classic outdoor science project you won’t want to move inside—the egg drop. Challenge kids to engineer a container that will protect an egg from a long fall (this is especially fun to do from upper-story windows).

Learn more: Egg Drop—Buggy and Buddy

48. Slide into friction science

Child sending a rock down a playground slide

Head out to the playground, gather up a variety of objects, and hold races to see which ones make it down the slide first. This is a fun introduction to friction and inclined planes.

Learn more: Friction Science—Buggy and Buddy

49. See water pollution in action

Plastic bin full of filthy water and litter (Outdoor Science)

Learn about the challenges of cleaning up polluted water sources like rivers and lakes with this interesting outdoor science activity. Pair it with a visit to a local water treatment plant to expand the lesson.

Learn more: Water Pollution—JDaniel4’s Mom

50. Test your local water quality

Water testing strip and instruction sheet

Once you’ve “cleaned up” your water, try testing it to see how clean it really is! Then head out to test other types of water. Kids will be fascinated to discover what’s in the water in their local streams, ponds, and puddles. Water-testing kits are readily available online—try this set available on Amazon.

Learn more: The Homeschool Scientist

Outdoor science activities don’t have to be limited to spring or summer! Bookmark the Coolest Winter Science Experiments and Activities.

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