The After-School Program run by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Recreation Department has been experimenting with some new science-based activities to offer the children when they arrive to the program after school. This year, in addition to having the kids play and do their homework, the department has come up with some creative science-based projects, such as making lava lamps and volcanoes using items easily available around the house or at the store.
“We started doing science projects during the After School Program in February,” said Erin Abrahamson, Recreation Social Program I coordinator. “We started off with lava lamps, using water bottles, cooking oil, food coloring, water and Alka-Seltzer tablets.”
Then in March the kids made their own Play-Doh from flour, salt, water and food coloring.
“April was our big science project, with two days of volcano-making,” said Abrahamson. Paper-mache, strips of paper held together with a paste made from flour, starch and water, was the primary construction material to form the volcanoes. On the first day, they made the volcanoes using poster board, water bottles and paper mâche, and let them dry overnight. The next day, students in the kindergarten class painted the volcanoes while the older kids in grades 1-6 used water, gelatin mix, food coloring, dish soap, baking soda and vinegar to make the lava.
At the conclusion of each science activity, the Recreation staff members lead a discussion with the children to ask and answer questions about the science behind the projects and explain what they learned.