Here's a list of materials to have on hand to encourage exploration and scientific investigation.

Life Science Studies (plants, animals, and people)

  • nontoxic seeds and bulbs
  • soil, storage containers, and scoops
  • indoor and outdoor gardening tools
  • watering cans, sprayers, and misters
  • plastic pots and seedling trays
  • leaves, seeds, pine cones, and bark bird feeder and seeds
  • collections of bones and teeth (bleached for safety)
  • nature books and magazines

Earth Science Studies (air, water, sand, and soil)

  • wind socks, pinwheels, and an air pump
  • water, sand, grave(, pebbles, stones, rocks, and shells
  • magnifying lenses 
  • smocks/aprons (far water play)
  • measuring cups, clear plastic pitchers, funnels, plastic colanders, strainers, sieves, rotary eggbeaters, bowls, straws, spoons, basters, and eyedroppers
  • plastic pails, buckets, and shovels
  • clear plastic tubing
  • sponges, mops, and hand towels
  • small whisk broom and dustpan

Physical Science Experiments (magnets, machines, heat, and light)

  • magnets of various sizes, shapes, and strengths
  • metal and nonmetal objects
  • wheels, gears, and pulleys
  • tools/gadgets (especially tongs and tweezers for gripping/grasping)
  • balance scale 
  • ramps, balls, and wheeled objects
  • pots, pans, cups, and bowls
  • freezer and ice cubes
  • indoor and outdoor thermometers 
  • magnifying and reducing lenses
  • binoculars
  • prisms and plastic mirrors
  • plastic flashlights
  • a hot plate (used only with adult supervision) As you pick up on children's interests and focus on other science topics, brainstorm lists like these to equip your science center for true discovery learning.