Unforgettable Summers Fueled by STEM Activities
Over the past several years, educational organizations have been emphasizing the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Education hosted the YOU Belong in STEM National Coordinating Conference, where there was a focus on the Raise the Bar: STEM Excellence for All Students initiative. This initiative aims to strengthen STEM education across the United States.
But it goes beyond academics. As more and more of today’s leaders understand the ability to use digital devices and STEM skills is essential not only for functioning as an informed consumer, but also as an active citizen in a technologically advanced world.
With all this mounting information, it is becoming obvious that kids need a firm foundation in STEM training, but how do you expose your children to STEM teaching during the summer break? Fortunately, there are creative and engaging ways to help kids master the subjects at any time, and summer STEM activities are some of the best times for kids of any age to learn this discipline.
Benefits of STEM for Kids
Tackling STEM subjects unlocks a child’s natural curiosity, strengthens critical thinking skills, and cultivates a passion for scientific exploration. In addition, STEM activities in a group setting teaches children the finer points of teamwork and collaboration. Moreover, these STEM lessons are easily translated into STEM camp activities that turn summer into a memorable and educational time.
Let’s look at the steps you need to take to include STEM summer activities that will engage, challenge, and entertain kids this summer.
Create Your STEM Goals
The best was to monopolize on STEM lessons for your kids is to begin by focusing on what you want to achieve with your STEM summer activity. Start by defining your top goals for your child. This could be teaching them the scientific method or encouraging collaboration and teamwork.
Plan Your Activities
Once you have a clear understanding of the goals you want to achieve with your project, it’s time to dive into the exciting process of planning your activities. This crucial step involves mapping out the specific tasks and steps required to accomplish your objectives. Embrace this opportunity to unleash your creativity and strategic thinking as you outline activities that will propel your project towards its desired outcome.
Our Top STEM Summer Activities for Kids
If you are at a loss figuring out some activities, here are some wonderful ideas you may want to include as your summer STEM activities:
Launch Creativity by Building Bottle Rockets
Building and launching bottle rockets as a STEM activity provides children with valuable learning opportunities across multiple disciplines. Kids learn about physics, engineering, and design principles, as well as develop math skills through measurements and calculations.
Materials: Plastic soda bottle, a platform for your base (LEGOS, crafts sticks, etc.), a cork or rubber stopper, adhesive (duct tape, hot glue, etc.), cardboard (or other lightweight materials), vinegar, baking soda, paper towels.
- Start by creating a launch pad. This could be made out of Lego, craft sticks, or any other material that is sturdy and level to hold the bottle rocket in place.
- Once the launch pad has been created, turn your child’s attention to the challenge and excitement of building their rockets. Gather your materials and prepare the bottle by removing any labels or stickers from the bottle and ensure it is clean and dry.
- Now add fun, custom fins to help stabilize the rocket during flight. You can use thick construction paper, balsawood, or any other strong yet light materials that can be shaped into a rocket fin. Attach three or four of your fins to the bottom of the bottle using duct tape, hot glue, or another robust adhesive.
- Finally, create a nose cone for more stabilization and aerodynamics. You can make a nose cone using a small piece of cardboard or foam. Attach it securely to the top of the bottle.
Once ready, find a safe, open space kids can launch their rockets. Put a tablespoon of baking soda in the paper towel and wrap it up tight. Then fill the bottle with two cups of vinegar. Put the paper towel inside the top of the bottle and make sure it fits tightly. Then put the cork in, flip the bottle over, and stand back. Your children are now able to watch and measure how far their rocket travels!
Gear up for Learning by Creating Gears with Gumdrops
Creating gears with gumdrops can be a fun and tasty challenge for STEM children of any age. Moreover, it can help grow the next generation of engineers. By using gumdrops as a building material, kids can explore the principles of engineering and mechanics in a hands-on and delicious way.
Materials: Plastic lids of different sizes, gumdrops (or any other small, round, candies), brads, glue and a marker.
- Prepare the gear base by making holes in the center of the plastic lids. You can use a hole punch or a sharp object to create small holes.
- Attach the brads through the holes, securing them in place. These brads act as the central axles for the gears.
- Now, instruct your children to add gumdrop teeth to the gears by gluing gumdrops to the outer edge of the lids, leaving a small space between each gumdrop. This creates the gear teeth.
- Once the gumdrops are securely attached, children can begin assembling the gears by aligning the gumdrop teeth of one gear with the empty spaces between gumdrops on another gear.
- Instruct your kids to press the axles (brads) through the center holes of the interlocking gears, connecting them together.
After assembling the gears, children can conduct tests to observe their movement and functionality. Encourage them to turn one gear while observing the motion of the connected gears. They can explore how different gear ratios and arrangements affect the speed and direction of rotation. This activity gives kids have the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning, develop their fine motor skills, understand the mechanics of gears, and apply problem-solving strategies as they experiment with different gear configurations.
Unleash the Thrill of STEM Learning with a Homemade Toy Zip Line
Indoors or outdoors, there’s an exciting and educational activity that can captivate kids of all ages: making a toy zip line. With just a few supplies and a touch of creativity, children can embark on a thrilling adventure while exploring physics and engineering through hands-on play. A zip line consists of a pulley suspended on a cable or rope, mounted on a slope for a downward angle.
Materials: Clothesline, clothespins, anchors (tape, clips, etc.), fasteners (rubber bands, zip ties, string, etc.), toys (action figures, dolls, paper cutouts, etc.)
- Start by gathering the materials.
- Attach your chosen toys using zip ties, string, or rubber bands.
- Fasten your line at an angle (from a high point to a low point) with your fastener.
- Let go of the toy and watch it slide to your end point!
The joy of the toy zip line lies not only in its ease of use but also in the boundless excitement it brings. With the freedom to effortlessly switch superheroes and the affordability of multiple pulley systems, the fun never ends. Exploring different angles and slopes introduces kids to concepts like acceleration and the influence of friction.
Make this summer a STEM summer!
Armed with all that information, it’s clear that many STEM activities seamlessly fit into different summer programs. That’s where Engineering For Kids shines with our exciting STEM summer camps. Through our engaging in-person and virtual programs, we spark kids’ imaginations, fuel their curiosity, and make learning an exhilarating adventure. Join us to create unforgettable summer memories while nurturing a lifelong love for STEM.
Armed with all that information, it becomes clear that many STEM activities seamlessly blend into various summer programs and these exceptional experiences take learning to new heights. This is where Engineering For Kids excels, offering STEM summer camps designed to captivate young minds. Through our engaging in-person and virtual programs, we ignite children’s imaginations, fuel their curiosity, and make learning an exhilarating adventure. Join us as we create unforgettable summer memories while nurturing a lifelong passion for STEM.