Have you ever dreamed of crossing the ocean and exploring the mysteries of the sea? Well, here is your chance! Follow the fun steps below and “sea” if you have what it takes to invent your way across the water while trying not to bump into (or step on) sea life!

Original Source: National Inventors Hall of Fame

Materials Needed

  • Crafting materials
  • Craft paper
  • Die
  • Recyclables
  • Tape (masking or painter’s)
  • Two plastic bags


Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Find a large open space and create an enclosed shape using tape.
  2. Using craft materials and recyclables from around your home, create ocean animals and plants!
  1. Place them in your enclosed shape.
  1. Lay both plastic bags flat with the blank sides facing up.
  2. Decorate the blank sides of the bags.
  1. Using the handles, take one bag and slip it onto your foot so the decorations are facing up.
  2. Tie the two handles together above your ankle.
  3. Repeat the above steps to properly secure the second bag on your other foot. Unsure if the bag shoes are your scuba style? Try making your own waterproof shoes using other materials from around your home!
  4. Roll the die once and use the guide below to see what each number indicates. This is how you will cross the sea.
    • 1 – Hop
    • 2 – Walk backward
    • 3 – Use one leg
    • 4 – Skip
    • 5 – Dance
    • 6 – Crabwalk
  5. Did you avoid bumping into or stepping on sea life? You get one point! Accidentally stepped on a flipper? Wait for your next turn.
  6. Each time you cross the sea, roll again and try taking a new path. The first player to get 10 points wins! (You can also play on your own and challenge yourself by using a timer!)
  7. Want a bigger challenge? Add some items into your sea that do not belong, like stuffed land animals or plastic items, and then create an invention to lift and clean them out of the sea.


What Are We Discovering?

People have always been fascinated with what is hidden beneath the surface of the ocean. National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee Harold Froehlich is the inventor of the longest operating deep-sea submersible, Alvin. Owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Alvin took its first dive in 1964. In 1974, Alvin allowed scientists to map the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which helped confirm the theory of plate tectonics and continental drift. In 1977, Alvin took scientists down 9,000 feet off the coast of the Galapagos Islands, where they found aquatic species like the giant tube worm — one of about 300 new species of animals whose discovery was enabled by Alvin. In 1986, Alvin made possible the first pictures of the sunken RMS Titanic. Alvin has also assisted with environmental waste studies and missions.

Check out this fun ‘Bubble Construction Design Challenge’ activity from Family Science & Engineering!

We have officially entered summer! Yippee! The summer solstice arrived officially at 8:31 PM (PT) on Sunday, June 20. (Check out some fun facts and folklore about the summer solstice.) Time for some fun, summer-related science & engineering activities!

When I think about summer, one of the first fun activities that comes to mind are bubbles! Try out the following design challenge adapted from our book, Family Science. This activity involves some prep, but it is so worth it — give it try!

You’ll need:

  • Scissors
  • Large plastic trash bag
  • Paper towels or several terry towels
  • Water
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Empty gallon milk jug (or similarly sized container)
  • Ruler
  • Corrugated cardboard box
  • Plastic bowl or tray
  • Copy of “Bubble Construction Chart
  • Tool construction supplies (string, chenille stems, foil, stiff paper, cardboard, recycled containers, straws, paper/plastic cups, etc.)
  • Pencil
  • Paper
Here’s what you do:
Prepare the Construction Site

  • Make a large table cover by cutting the side seams of a trash bag. Open it flat. Wipe the table with a damp paper towel, and then spread the cover over the damp area.
  • Mix a bubble solution by combining 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap with 1 cup of water. To make a larger amount, pour 2/3 cup of liquid dish soap into an empty gallon milk jug, and then fill with water. Mix the solution by stirring slowly. Try to keep bubbles and foam from forming on the surface.
  • Cut the cardboard box into sections about 6 by 8 inches (15 by 20 centimeters). Make one for each person. You will use the cardboard as squeegees to clear extra liquid away from the work area.
  • Have sheets of a roll of paper towels nearby to soak up spills or to blot an area dry. Plain vinegar also works well to break down the soap and help clean off the work surface.
  • Put supplies and tools in the center of the work area. Pour a small amount of bubble solution into a bowl or tray.

Bubble Production

  • Distribute one Bubble Construction Chart to each explorer or team. (Keep your chart on a separate, dry surface while you test your bubble production tools.)
  • Each individual or team then selects one of the bubble products to produce. Next, design a tool that will produce the bubble product, and then record their method for others to follow.
  • Choose the type of materials needed to construct the tool.
  • Assemble and test the tool until the tool produces consistent results. Remember, the goal is to produce a bubble product as described on the construction chart.
  • Once you have perfected your method, write step-by-step directions to explain how to produce your bubble product. Give the directions to someone else or another team. Do they get the same results?
  • Continue the design and production of the other bubble products. Fill in the chart while you work.

According to fellow scientist, Joseph Priestly, Ben Franklin performed his famous kite experiment in June 1752. Franklin had been interested in “electric fire” for quite a while and had an on-going dialogue with other scientists of his day about the phenomenon. His famous key experiment established that lightning was a form of electricity.

There are a couple of myths about this famous experiment though. First, the kite experiment did not help Franklin “discover” electricity. Humans had known about electrical forces for more than a millennium. What it did do was establish the connection between electricity and lightning, and it ultimately led to Franklin’s refinement of the of the lightning rod. These devices are still used today on taller buildings to help channel the electric charge from a lightning bolt safely to the ground.

Also, neither Franklin nor the kite were actually struck by lightning. (He likely would have died if either had happened!) The wet hemp string that he attached to the kite was a good conductor of electricity, and they key attached to the string picked up electrical charge from the air in the active storm.

While we would not recommend that you replicate Franklin’s experiment, there are some easy ways to investigate static electricity at home and remember Franklin’s contributions to STEM.

Static Electricity Race

You’ll need: two aluminum cans, some masking tape, and two balloons.

Here’s what you do:

  • Using masking tape, mark a “start” and a “finish” line on the floor about 1 yard (1 meter) apart.
  • Place 2 empty soft drink cans on their sides on the starting line.
  • Inflate and tie-off 2 balloons. To charge the balloons, rub them rapidly back and forth on your clothing for a minute.
  • When you’re ready for the race, hold the balloons near the cans, without touching them to the cans, and have someone say “go.”
  • Each person tries to move his/her can across the finish line using only the static electricity of the balloon. Don’t touch the balloons to the cans!
  • After the race, ask participants what caused the balloons to move? (Static electricity – charged particles you rubbed off your clothes and onto the balloon.) Then ask if they can identify whether the part of the can nearest the balloon had similar or opposite charges. How could they tell? (Opposite charges attract. Like charges repel.)

Have fun!

Be sure to check out more from Family Science & Engineering guidebook for more ideas to inspire engineering exploration!