Worried about your kids’ brains totally turning to jelly this summer?
Build a sandcastle
Willard Beach is a popular place to cool off, but it’s also one of the best places to build a sandcastle. It’s a great exercise in engineering and science. Maybe set a challenge, like who can build the tallest tower. Or have kids plan a city, complete with waterways. Here’s some castle-building advice from a sedimentologist.
Draw a map
Cartography is a combination of math and art. Go for a walk along the Linear Trail in downtown Battle Creek and have kids draw a map based on what they see. We recommend starting at McCamly Street by Clara’s on the River and walking along the path to the Underground Railroad monument. You’ll follow the Battle Creek River and along the way you’ll see Clara’s (the old train station), Willard Library, the Kellogg House and more. Maybe bring along a pedometer to count steps between landmarks.
Build a bridge
A truss bridge doesn’t just look awesome — it’s a lesson in engineering. Take a trip to Historic Bridge Park, where truss bridges have been restored and placed into this open-air museum. Kids can walk over the bridges and study the structures. Use that knowledge to build your own bridges with popsicle sticks, spaghetti, rolled up newspaper or other items you might find at home. Here’s a video from the University of Michigan about a building exercise for kids.
Create a nature scavenger hunt
Leila Arboretum has a lot of open space to explore, from the flower gardens to the sculptures. Give kids a camera and come up with a list of items to find, such as a deciduous tree or a butterfly. Cameras are a useful piece of technology to learn about, but a photography scavenger hunt is also a chance for kids to study the veins on a leaf or the petals on a flower.
Sports involve a lot of science. So why don’t you take an opportunity to show kids physics while they’re doing something they already enjoy? Go to Riverside Park, which offers different sporting areas. Find the “sweet spot” on a baseball bat or use a basketball to send a baseball into the air. Riverside Park has ball diamonds, a basketball court, soccer fields and a paved path for riding bikes or scooters.