Summer break is the perfect time to stimulate young minds with fun, hands-on activities! To keep things educational, try these summer STEM activities that can be completed with common household items.
- Bottle rockets
While they may not be the fireworks variety, these homemade bottle rockets are an easy and fun way to incorporate both chemistry and engineering. Begin by building a launch pad using Tinker Toys, Legos, or other construction toys from around the house. Next, construct the rocket; an empty plastic bottle, a cork, baking soda, and vinegar are all that are needed for the rocket and its fuel. Put vinegar in the bottle, add 1 tablespoon of baking soda, turn upside down, quickly place the bottle in the launch pad, and watch it fly!
Discuss the reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar, and how it makes the bottle rocket fly. Extend the activity by trying different sizes of bottles or different amounts of baking soda and vinegar.
- Tie dye flowers
Create tie dye flowers by changing the color of white daisies or carnations. Add different colored food coloring or watercolor paint to small cups of water, then split the stems of the flowers into two – or more – pieces before placing the ends into the different cups. The flowers will begin absorbing the color immediately; record which colors are absorbed fastest, how the colors mix together, or how the colors change over time.
Capitalize on the slime craze – and learn about states of matter – by making oobleck. Oobleck, sometimes called goop or magic mud, is a non-Newtonian liquid. Under pressure it behaves like a solid, but without pressure behaves like a liquid. Kids will be mesmerized as they play and learn with this engaging and entertaining science experiment.
- Stick boats
Practice the scientific method by brainstorming, designing, and testing stick boats. Begin by collecting sticks and cutting or snapping them to similar lengths. Then, using rope, twine, or other materials, bind the sticks together to create a boat. Add a sail if desired, then test the boats on the water – or in the sink or bathtub. Whether they sink or float, encourage children to evaluate and tweak their designs for the next round of testing.
- Paper plate marble runs
Engage kid’s creative sides by creating paper plate marble runs. Using a paper plate as a base, have children cut and tape construction paper arches, tunnels, and pathways for their marble to travel through. Straws, Wikki Stix, and other materials can be used to create paths, curves, turns, ramps, and more.