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Teaching science outdoors: 21 projects, activities and experiments

school children use microscope outdoors

There is no better way to learn about the wonders of science than taking it out into the great outdoors. Teaching science outside opens a whole host of opportunities that you wouldn’t get from staying inside.

If you’re in need of inspiration, we’ve compiled 21 fun and engaging science experiments, activity ideas and projects perfect for primary school learning.


Outdoor science activities to excite your class


1. Engineer a waterwheel with LEGO

There are plenty of ways you can use LEGO to enhance learning in maths, but it’s also a perfect fit for science.

One example comes in the form of a waterwheel. Build a short course and run some water down it to learn all about water flow. You could take on other water-based engineering projects with LEGO too, like a dam.

Learn more: Frugal Fun 4 Boys and Girls


2. Plant a class garden

Your own class garden can lead to loads of cross curricular learning. Just by planting a few seeds or flowers and watching them grow, you can learn all about the lifecycle of a plant and connected topics like pollination.

Learn more: Hope Education


3. Make giant bubbles

Bubbles are possibly one of the most engaging activities your class could do outside, but there is more to it than just fun. Make them into different shapes and sizes and learn all about the science of water molecules that make them up.

Learn more: Scholastic


4. Build a bottle rocket

It’s one of the best school science experiments there is. Take the concept of water pressure and apply it to your very own class rocket ship. Plus, you’ll get plenty of fun out of designing and building the rocket before lift off!

Learn more: Science Sparks


5. Outdoor cooking with a solar oven

Discover the power of the sun by building your own solar oven. All you need is foil, cling film and a cardboard box. Make some sweet treats and watch them slowly melt in the sun, learning all about reflective heat in the process.

Learn more: Growing a Jeweled Rose


6. Day cycles with a sun dial

For more learning about the sun in the sky, ask each child to make a sun dial and take it out into the playground. You can make this a science lesson on the day and night cycle or adapt and discuss how historical civilizations like the Ancient Egyptians used sun dials.

Learn more: Otherwise Educating



7. Gravity learning with a parachute

Gravity and air resistance can be introduced and discussed with the help of a class-made parachute. Experiment with different materials, like plastic, paper and cloth, and discover how that effects the way the parachute interacts with physics.

Learn more: Inspiration Laboratories


8. Minibeasts bingo

Head out into nature and tick off the minibeasts, birds and butterflies you see along the way. Turn it into a quick game of bingo and offer out some prizes to those who can find the most. This is a great way to use the outdoors to introduce Zoology and everything that comes with it.

Learn more: Hope Education


9. Start a nature journal

Once you’ve had a few trips outside spotting wildlife and looking at plants in your class garden, you could pull it together into a nature journal. Add in quiz questions and facts about associated science topics to enhance their knowledge.

Learn more: Edventures With Kids


10. Look up!

For an endless stream of science learning, all you need to do is look up! Turn Britain’s favourite conversation topic – the weather – into science activities and projects. Depending on the weather outside, you could learn about everything from cloud formation to photosynthesis.

Learn more: Teaching Ideas


11. Create a bee or bug hotel

It’s one thing to learn about bees, bugs and other critters, but why not help them out while you’re at it? An old plant pot, straws, a piece of string and some clay is all you need to make your very own class bee home. And what better opportunity to learn about the incredible work that bees do to maintain our ecosystems.

Learn more: Hope Education


12. Amaze the class with the leakproof bag

For some introductory chemistry, experiment with one of the most exciting practicals I can remember as a young school scientist. Find a polymer plastic bag, fill it with water and prod some sharp pencils through it. Thanks to the flexible polyethylene molecules the water remains in the bag.

Just give it a practice at home first to save on any potential embarrassment.

Learn more: Steve Spangler Science


13. Inspect nature with a microscope

Microscopes are an essential part of every scientist’s toolkit, allowing you to take a closer look at items from nature. They might not be as effective as proper microscopes but work with your class to make their own before you head outdoors.

Learn more: Childhood 101


14. Make a lava lamp

It may not be the 1970s anymore, but lava lamps are still cool, right? There’s some pretty cool science in lava lamps, and you can replicate it in your class with little more than a bottle, some water and some oil. It’s probably just another one of those to take outside to avoid a massive clean-up.

Learn more: Education


15. Measure the wind with an anemometer

More weather-related learning here with an anemometer. Measure wind speed and direction with a class made anemometer or buy a ready-made one with fancy digital displays.

Learn more: Teach Engineering


16. Install a weather station

Want more than wind measurements? Take your weather science lessons to a whole new level and tie it into a larger project. Install an outdoor weather station complete with a barometer, thermometer and more.

Learn more: Hope Education


17. Make a rainbow

Is there a cuter childhood task then making rainbows? Let the class know that they aren’t exclusive to rain and sun in the sky; you can make them too. Take it out to the playground and see who can make the best rainbow.

Learn more: Learning through Landscapes


18. Create some sun art

Science and creativity rolled into one with this idea. Use solar print paper (or make your own) and teach the power of UV rays from the sun with your class’s very own sun art.

Learn more: Play of the Wild


19. Leaf transpiration experiment

Another quick and easy experiment that delves into the science of nature. Leave a plastic bag over a large leaf and watch water collect in the bottom. Plants lose about 99% of the water they take in through transpiration – who knew!

Learn more: Teach Beside Me


20. Heat water with a solar kettle

In not too dissimilar fashion to the solar oven from earlier, you can harness the power of the sun to teach your class about heating water too. All you need is a plastic bottle, some foil and a few other bits to explore the most renewable energy source there is – the sun!

Learn more: Learning through Landscapes


21. Build an outdoor lab

Outdoor learning is going to be of vital importance now and in the future. The benefits of taking teaching outdoors are plentiful, so it could be worth proper investment in an outdoor lab. Hold all your science experiments and projects outdoors in a purpose built lab.

Learn more: Hope Education

<a href="" target="_self">William Hinch</a>

William Hinch

Hope Education writer

Will has been writing for Hope Education since July 2020, helping provide teachers with tips, advice and insight that helps them educate the next generation. Away from his educational writing, Will is a typical Yorkshireman; a lover of ale, cricket and tea!

2 April 2021

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