Whether you go to one of the Great Lakes or the Finger Lakes around the ESP's part of New York State or to the ocean shore, there is plenty of science fun to be had at the beach. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Or think up your own science fun. Be smart and stay safe - take an adult along whenever you are near the water's edge.
So take your brain to the beach and don't forget to put on some sunscreen!
1. Look for animal clues along the water's edge. Clues can be shells, feathers, footprints, burrows, bones, leftover food or anything else an animal left behind. See if you can identify what they are and who left them behind.
2. Listen to beach sounds. How many different animal sounds can you hear? Try to identify them. What sounds do you hear that were not made by living things?
3. In what direction does the wind blow in the daytime? In what direction does the wind blow at night? If they are different and the weather is otherwise the same, see if you can find out why the day and night winds are different.
4. Look at the sand at the water's edge with a magnifying glass. Get some sand from farther up the beach away from the water. Is there a difference in the size of the grains of sand? Why?
5. Dig a hole near the water's edge. How deep do have to dig before you reach wet sand? Do you think this is the same farther from the water? Find out.
6. Pass a magnet over a handful of sand. Is any sand attracted to the magnet? If yes, what color is it?
7. Are there any sea walls, jetties or other structures in the water or along the shore? Try to find out why they are there and how they are supposed to work.
8. Visit the shore after dark and look at the sky. Why do the stars seem so bright over the water?
9. What plants are growing in the water? Are any rooted or are they all free floating?
10. Take a grownup fishing. What fish are being caught? What bait is being used? If using lures instead of bait, what are the lures supposed to look like?
11. Do they clean up the beach every day? What kind of stuff do they have to clean up most, algae and other natural objects or people-produced mess?
12. Test the temperature of the water, sand, and air in different places. Can you find any patterns in temperature and water depth or distance from the water?
13. Stand near the water and tap two rocks together. Notice how loud it sounds. Now go into the water, hold the rocks underwater and put your head underwater. Tap the rocks together again. When was it louder? Why?