You've probably heard the term STEM tossed around. If you're not familiar, it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. There's also STEAM, which includes art in the mix.We're fans of both models—and we bet you and your kids will be, too. To get everyone excited and inspired, we've gathered some of our favorite STEAM activities here. The best part? You and your kids will have a blast (well, not literally!) completing them—and you'll all learn a thing or two along the way.
1. Exploding Baggie
See science in action when vinegar (an acid) and baking soda (a base) combine to create carbon dioxide—a gas that inflates and causes its container to burst!
1. Measure 1/2 cup vinegar into plastic baggie and add a drop or two of food coloring.
2. Twist the baggie just above the liquid and secure with a binder clip, leaving space at the top.
3. Add 1/4 cup baking soda to the top portion of the baggie. Seal tight!
4. Set outside or on a covered table. Have paper towels handy!
5. Remove the clip, allowing the baking soda and vinegar to combine. (Give a little shake if needed.)
6. Step back, and watch it inflate...and explode! (Try this a few times, and adjust the vinegar-baking soda quantities if needed, keeping them in a 2:1 ratio.)
2. DIY Scratch Paper
Make your own color-scratch cards for a little message magic!
What You'll Need: Blank white cards, color crayons, masking tape, clear detergent, black acrylic paint and a paintbrush, and a small plastic mixing bowl and spoon
- Tape down the card with masking tape around the edges.
- Color in completely with a rainbow of crayons.
- Mix 2 Tbsp black acrylic paint and 2 Tbsp clear detergent in a small bowl.
- Paint the card with the mixture, and allow to dry. Do at least two coats.
- When complete dry, slowly and carefully peel the masking tape away.
- Scratch your message into the card with a coin or the pointed end of the paintbrush, and see the colors revealed!
3. Lemon Meyer Geysers
A little mashing and a lot of fizz makes a mini volcano in our take on one of the most popular of home experiments. The citric acid of the lemon juice reacts with the baking soda to release carbon dioxide gas, fizz, and foam.
What You'll Need: 2 lemons, 1 Tbsp baking soda, 1 drop Dawn dish soap, food coloring (optional) and a plate, knife, fork, and cup
- Slice a bit off the bottom of the first lemon (so it will sit flat) and remove a core from the top.
- Halve and juice the second lemon, and set it aside.
- Set the cored lemon on a plate, and mush the inside with a fork. Make sure to keep all the lemon juice in the lemon; it’s important for the reaction.
- Squeeze a few drops of food coloring and a few drops of Dawn dish soap into the lemon (these are not critical ingredients but make the bubbles colorful and sudsy).
- Add a spoonful of baking soda into the lemon (it should start to fizz), and mush with the fork––it should start foaming and bubbling!
- Keep the reaction going by adding more baking soda, dish soap, and reserved lemon juice.
4. DIY Ice Cream
In this party trick, you'll make ice cream by surrounding the ingredients with a layer of even colder ice. How? Salt (slightly!) changes the boiling and freezing temperatures of water. When you add salt to ice cubes, it causes them to melt faster, but the resulting water is actually colder than regular ice. Eventually, that water will warm up, but as long as there are still a few ice cubes in the bag, you know the surrounding water is still colder than ice. As this extra-cold water circulates around the ice cream mixture, it coaxes it into a frozen state.
What You'll Need
- 1 pint-sized sealable plastic bag
- 1 gallon-sized sealable plastic bag
- 4 cups ice
- 6 Tbsp rock salt
- ½ cup half-and-half
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp white sugar
- Add the ice and rock salt to the larger plastic bag. Shake to coat.
- Combine half-and-half, sugar, extract and a pinch of salt in the smaller bag. Seal it tight, getting all the air out.
- Nestle the small bag of ice cream mixture into the large bag of ice, so that the ice surrounds it. Seal the large bag tightly.
- Now shake, shake, shake it up! After about 5 minutes, your sweet treat will be ready to eat!
5. Math in Action
Do you have an old Twister mat? Give it a new workout by turning it into a math learning game.
6. Superstar Astronomer
If your memory of constellations begins with the Big Dipper and ends with the Little Dipper, make this star viewer to brighten your astronomy knowledge.
7. Egg-cellent Experiment
This egg-cellent experiment, which teaches kids about creating vacuums, doesn't end with a bang, but something just as cool! (I don't want to spoil it for you.)
8. Weather Wonder
Is it a rainy day? Make it rain inside, too, with this weather experiment.
9. Sew Shapes
Let the kids play with color, work their fine-motor skills, and study up on shapes with this simple embroidery project. It’s an artistic way for them to flex their math muscles while making their school binders a little more functional. Let them choose a mix of colors and stitch away!