There is no denying the importance of introducing your kids to STEM concepts. A solid foundation in STEM education promotes critical thinking, increases science literacy, and encourages a new generation of industry leaders. But with the hectic schedule of modern parenting, how can you see to it that your child has every opportunity to succeed in these fields?
From simple science experiments using things you already have to the best new products to awaken your child’s interest in STEM, we’ve scoured the internet and rounded up STEM challenges your child can do from home!
Build your own Lego Catapult
Source: Little Bins for Little Hands
More than just a classic toy, Legos are a fantastic way to easily integrate STEM concepts into play. This STEM challenge combines physics with exploring simple machines! As with any Lego creation, this project requires that you use creativity and utilize the bricks you already have, which adds to the fun!
Once your child has completed this challenge, be sure to check out one hundred more ideas for learning with Legos!
Materials for this challenge include rubber bands, a large Lego base plate, an assortment of Lego bricks and marshmallows. Check out the images of Little Bins for Little Hands completed challenge for ideas about how to build your base like a pro!
Kid Club at Connected Camps
Older kids looking to explore the world of STEM should check out our Kid Club! We host this Minecraft server especially for kids aged 8-15. Our online community unites kids in a safe and educational environment where they enjoy unstructured play with their peers!
Join our hand-picked counselors in learning advanced building techniques, problem-solving and age-appropriate STEM skills through Minecraft.
Source: Makey Makey
Makey Makey is a fun hands-on learning experience where kids learn how to not only dream – but do! Makey Makey brings inventions to life by exploring the basics of circuits and switches. From using paper and pencil to create drawings that speak to building pressure sensitive switches from cardboard, your child can create clever inventions that solve real-world problems.
Tons of free guides on their website offer countless ways to excite your little one about science and invention!
Make your own Magnetic Slime
Source: Frugal Fun 4 Boys
If you are looking for a budget-friendly option, the STEM junkies over at Frugal Fun 4 Boys experimented with making magnetic slime.
Not only is magnetic slime fun to play with, it’s a great practical STEM challenge with magnetism and chemistry elements. This project involves parent supervision due to its use of iron oxide powder, so it’s a great way to have fun with your little scientists on a rainy day.
Materials for this challenge include liquid starch, Elmer’s glue, iron oxide powder, a neodymium magnet, and disposable bowls for mixing. First, pour 1/4 cup of liquid starch into a bowl then add 2 tablespoons of iron powder and stir until well mixed. Next, add 1/4 cup white school glue and mix and continue to stir. Then, roll and knead the dough with your hands. Consider gloves to keep your hands from turning black! Once finished, use a paper towel to pat the dough dry and remove excess liquid.
Then you are ready to play!
Explore our Game Lab
Looking for a fun way to keep your child engaged after school? In our Game Lab we explore game design by building and playing games within Minecraft! Your child can make uniquely original games within Minecraft and test them with friends. Your little builder with be excited to be an official Game Designer and not only play games online but learn how to make their own as well!
Build Creative Structures with Magna-Tiles
Magna-Tiles have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. They allow creative minds to build impressive structures and are as educational as they are fun! The company offers countless STEM challenges using Magna-Tiles available on Pinterest, and on their website, so you’re sure to get excellent mileage out of these beloved toys.
Magna-Tiles are exceptional STEM tools as they encourage 3D thinking, spatial awareness as well as math and science skills. The building toy was designed to keep a child’s attention while promoting developmental skills and creative play.
Magna-tiles also offers an in-depth guide with printables and ideas for fun ways to build and ignite your child’s imagination.
Make your own “Hot Ice”
Source: From Playdough to Plato
This STEM challenge takes the experiment to the kitchen! The challenge involves using the stove, so a parent’s help will be needed. With a challenge this fun, we’re sure you’ll be excited to join in, As an added bonus, this challenge uses items you likely already have tucked away in your kitchen cabinets.
Materials for this challenge include, 4 cups of white vinegar, 4 tablespoons of baking soda, a pot, a heat-safe measuring cup, a dish and a spoon.
First, combine 4 cups of vinegar and 4 tablespoons of baking soda into a pot. Add the baking soda a bit at a time so when it fizzles it doesn’t overflow in your pot. Then, continue to boil your solution over low to medium heat for about an hour. Your goal is to reduce it down about 1 cup or less. Once it’s ready, store your sodium acetate into a glass container and place it into the refrigerator for about 45 minutes. Then, pour the cooled solution onto a few crystals that you scraped from the pan and enjoy a job well done!
Pilot an Egg Safely to the Ground
Source: Schooling a Monkey
Does your child have in interest in space? Let their imagination soar by building a vessel used to pilot an egg safely to the ground, and maybe they’ll help build the next space rover!
The well known non-profit organization PBS offers a host of building and design STEM challenges through their fun and interactive website – for free! This challenge uses easy to find materials and makes for a fun change of pace.
Materials for this challenge include rubber bands, 10 9-inch balloons, 10 popsicle sticks, hardboiled eggs, a large paper cup, several small binder clips, 2 small paper cups, 5 straws, about 40 inches of string and tape.
Their website mentions several guidelines and things to consider when taking on this challenge including installing a cushion for the egg and choosing materials for shock absorbers. So, gather up your supplies and let your child’s imagination take flight!
The PBS website offers countless inexpensive at home STEM challenges for a wide range of age groups.
Invent Your Own Machines with JAM
Source: Invent Your Own Machines – JAM
Ideal for kids aged 9-14, JAM’s Invent Your Own Machines enables your child to build amazing machines using objects in your home! Working one on one with an inventor, your child we have hands-on experience building and engineering their very own inventions. Their friendly inventors introduce your child to engineering skills using readily available everyday materials.
Available for download, a complimentary app shows step by step instructions for 72 projects, so there is no shortage of STEM challenges to be embarked upon!
Innovate with littleBits Coding Kit
Source: littleBits Coding Kit
littleBits Coding Kit offers a rich resource for your child’s initial introduction to coding. You child can build a programmable device by building with the kit’s electronic building blocks. From lights, sensors to speakers, the kit is reusable, and the possibilities are endless!
It is great for learning foundational coding concepts such as inputs & outputs, loops, logic, and variables. There is also an online element to familiarize parents with the learning tool, so you can be a part of the process,
The Challenge to Innovate and Create
A STEM challenge presents a unique opportunity to introduce your child to science, technology, engineering and math concepts – but in a fun way that promotes critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Consider introducing some of these ideas to your child to make learning fun and hands-on! Online challenges add the benefit of engaging children in cooperative play, while challenges using common household products give your kids a simple (and educational!) way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon.