At-Home Activities for Kids
March 20, 2020 (Updated April 23, 2020) – The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) has a wide variety of free digital resources that parents can use at home with their kids to help supplement the science and math learning they are learning in school. Resources include an interactive graphic novel, online tutorials for DIY activities, and digital apps that explore geometry, fractions, patterns, and sustainability. All activities exemplify the museum’s Design, Make, Play approach to learning, which encourages open-ended exploration, imaginative learning, personal relevance, deep engagement and delight.
Free, digital resources include:
Transmissions: Gone Viral
With this interactive, web-based graphic novel, parents can create a science learning moment out of the current situation. Inspired by the 1999 West Nile Virus epidemic, Transmissions: Gone Viral follows a group of youngsters who investigate a virus plaguing animals and humans in their neighborhood. Designed to appeal to middle school students, readers follow along as the characters work with a veterinary pathologist and an entomologist. Interactive challenges embedded in the narrative engage readers in sorting evidence and finding patterns that may help solve the mystery. Transmissions: Gone Viral can be viewed for free online.
Parents can bring NYSCI’s popular Maker Space workshop area into their homes with more than 10 tutorials that use supplies that parents may already have on hand. The collection of free, online activities includes tape casting, acrylic paint marbling, book binding, glue masks and DIY lightsabers. All tutorials are free and available online.
This collection of three booklets covers making and tools, with the Projects booklet including step-by-step instructions for activities that kids can do at home with adult supervision. Projects include an experimental sound machine, a wooden acrobat toy, light painting and an acoustic speaker. Created with generous support from The Walt Disney Company, these three makerzines are free to download.
Kids can learn how to build and use algorithms with NYSCI’s app The Pack. The story is set in the fictional world of Algos, where healthy ecosystems have faltered, and food and water are scarce. Players must find a way to bring the ecosystem into balance by replenishing water sources and finding seeds. They’ll need the help of a “Pack” of creatures to help dig up water and seeds and bump food off of trees. Learning and mastering how to use algorithms is the key to finding all of the seeds and restoring harmony to Algos. Created by NYSCI and Design I/O, this all-ages game can be downloaded for free to iPhones and iPads via the App Store, or to Windows or Mac OSX computers via classic.nysci.org/thepack.
NYSCI’s early childhood app, Picture Dots, encourages conversations and interactions between young learners and their parents in ways that connect to early literacy, math and science skills. Working with their parents, children ages 3 – 8 can use Picture Dots to take photos, drag colored dots onto the photos, and then assign each dot a word, phrase, musical note, sound or record short sentences. When the child presses play, they can hear their story played back. The dots can also be used for color matching, counting objects, categorizing items, making patterns, and other uses. Picture Dots is generously supported by NYSCI’s Sara Lee Schupf Family Center for Play, Science, and Technology (SciPlay) and the Heising-Simons Foundation. The app is available in the App Store for free. Free guides with tips and ideas for using the app can be downloaded for free.
NYSCI has created two iPad apps for students that help students explore math. Students who use Choreo Graph, geared for middle school and high school students, can use mathematical concepts from coordinate geometry, angles and rotations to make animations from simple dance moves to complex scenes. Fraction Mash, for elementary and middle school students, encourages kids to use mathematical concepts involving fractions to make hilarious and complex photo mashups. The apps can be downloaded for free on the App Store.
NYSCI’s Explainer TV channel includes interviews with scientists, science experiments and DIY projects. Kids and parents can learn How to Make Ice Cream in a Ziplock Bag, make DIY Speaker Cups, Make Soda Tab Bracelets, and watch an Awesome Fire Experiment all from the comfort of their homes. Subscribe to the Explainer TV Channel.
Google Science Journal Curriculum
Through the generous support from Making & Science, an initiative of Google, NYSCI has developed a series of four engineering activities that utilize simple materials and the free Google Science Journal app. Activities are primarily geared towards students in grades 6 – 8 and include Make a Better Speaker, Shake, Rattle and Roll – An Earthquake Simulation, 0-60 mph: An Exploration of Acceleration, and Where the Sunlight Goes: An Exploration of Tree Leaves.
Many of the hands-on activities in this collection can be done with common household materials. Activities can be searched via science theme, age or time it takes to complete the project. Projects include building with duct tape, creating inflatable sculptures, and building a flying machine. learnXdesign was made possible through a generous grant from the Noyce Foundation and is a partnership between NYSCI and six other museums – The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California; the Museum of Science in Boston, Massachusetts; the Science Museum of Minnesota in Minneapolis; TELUS Spark Science Centre in Calgary, Canada; Explora in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio. Find all the learnXdesign activities online at https://learnxdesign.org/
False Conviction: Innocence, Guilt & Science
This free, interactive ebook explores how innocent people can be convicted of crimes they did not commit. Geared towards high school students and adults, it investigates real cases in which eyewitness accounts, confessions and crime lab tests led to false convictions, and where DNA evidence helped exonerate the innocent. Interactive experiences let readers examine DNA in blood, hair and semen, attempt to match a bullet to the gun that fired it, test if they can spot a liar based on body language, and more. The ebook was produced by NYSCI in collaboration with the Innocence Project and Touch Press. False Conviction: Innocence, Guilt & Science was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jim Dwyer. The ebook can be accessed for free on an iOS device using the Apple Books app.
Charlie & Kiwi’s Evolutionary Adventure
Based on the museum exhibit of the same name, this 13-minute animated video on YouTube follows Charlie, a student writing a report about his favorite bird, the kiwi. As Charlie dozes off, he dreams he travels back in time to meet his great-great-great-great grandpa Charles Darwin. Together, they travel even further back in time to help Charlie understand how birds evolved from dinosaurs, and how kiwis might have gotten to be a kiwi – a nocturnal bird with whiskers and no wings. Recommended for children in PreK – 3rd grade.
Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think
This free ebook, geared for students in grades 2 – 5, is adapted from the NYSCI exhibition with the same name. Through interactives, videos and case studies, readers will learn about surprising and impressive thinking skills in a variety of animals. The ebook can be accessed for free on an iOS device using the Apple Books app.
NYSCI fans can add some fun to their next Zoom or videoconference session with more than a dozen backgrounds. They can choose from the animated scenes of the Connected Worlds exhibition, images of the museum’s iconic Great Hall from the 1964 World’s Fair, and other outdoor and indoor scenes.
(Updated April 23 with Videoconference Backgrounds.)
(Updated April 2 with additional resources: False Conviction: Innocence, Guilt & Science, Charlie & Kiwi’s Evolutionary Adventure, and Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think.)
About The New York Hall of Science
The mission of the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) is to nurture generations of passionate learners, critical thinkers and active citizens through an approach called Design, Make, Play. Design, Make, Play emphasizes open-ended exploration, imaginative learning and personal relevance, resulting in deep engagement and delight in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. NYSCI was founded at the 1964-65 World’s Fair and has evolved into New York’s center for interactive science.
For more information, visit nysci.org or call 718-699-0005.
Follow NYSCI on Twitter and Instagram: @nysci, and on Facebook at: facebook.com/nysci.
Mary Record, New York Hall of Science