Fun summer science activities from Quirk’s host Bob McDonald

Summer is here, online schooling is over and you're probably asking yourself what to do with the kids that doesn't involve plunking them down in front of a screen with a video game (as tempting as that is).

Save yourself a brain drain trying to come up with creative ideas that don't involve baking COVID-19 fresh bread for the hundredth time. Turn to the help of professionals and your kids will even learn something in the process.

Tune in every week for new ideas. This week the focus is on science.


If you are a Canadian 30-something parent, then you probably grew up watching either the "make-science-cool" shows Heads Up! or Wonderstruck and/or listening to CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks show by Canadian science communicator Bob McDonald.

He is still at it (coming up to 30 years with Quirks), inspiring minds of both young and old.

His latest book for kids, (geared towards tweens) is incredibly easy to read and available in downloadable audiobook version (read by him) or in e-book format so you don't even have to leave your house to get it.

It is called An Earthling's Guide to Outer Space: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Black Holes, Dwarf Planets, Aliens, and More. It is made up of more than thirty short chapters in a question and answer format. When Can I take A Vacation in Space? Why isn’t Pluto a planet? Is there Life in Space? What do Satellites do? How did an Asteroid Wipe Out the Dinosaurs? These topics are all in there.

To hammer home the points and make them even more understandable (for kids and science-challenged parents like me), McDonald has created easy, fun experiments that you can do with your kids (or leave them to do on their own without having to worry about them burning down the house or wreaking havoc).

Asked why he wrote the book, McDonald says: “I wanted to inspire young people to take an interest in the universe around them just as I was inspired by a book my mom gave me on the planets when I was eight. I believe that by understanding other worlds, we get better insight into our own.”

Here is a demo he did of one of his favourite chapters from the book, on black holes:

“We don’t know what happens when we fall into a black hole. It is the edge of our knowledge. And I find what we don’t know more fascinating than what we do know.”

McDonald’s love of space and his curiosity for the unknown are infectious and no doubt your kids will catch that curiosity as well. (And the experiments will keep them busy for hours, all summer long…)

Next week the focus will be on HISTORY.