10 super fun STEM activities
10 super fun STEM activities
Simple STEM activities are a fabulous opportunity to promote early interest in science and enquiry-based learning and it's never too young to start! Establishing an early passion for STEM offers many benefits:
- It fosters the desire to explore and experiment
- It helps develop analytical and problem-solving skills
- It nurtures an understanding of cause and effect and trial and error
- It supports the development of communication and collaboration skills
- It expands vocabulary
These simple, cost effective suggestions were compiled by Wesco and offer something suitable for children of every age group.
1. Sink or float?
This is a classic science activity that explores the principle of buoyancy and can be done with very young children. Get a large container (e.g., a bowl or plastic box), fill it with water, and with the children collect a range of objects from around the nursery. The children then take it in turns to drop an object into the water – after guessing whether it will sink or float.
2. Will it dissolve?
This activity teaches children about solubility, specifically whether a given substance will dissolve in water. You'll need several small, transparent water containers (e.g. plastic or glass cups) and a range of substances to test (e.g., sugar, oil, salt, food colouring, rice, flour, vitamin tablets). Before dropping each substance into a cup ask the children to guess whether it will dissolve or not.
3. Magnet maze
For this activity, you'll need some paper plates, pens/crayons and magnets. Give a paper plate to each child and ask them to draw a 'maze' on it (older children may be able to attempt an actual maze but for younger ones a squiggly line is fine). Use a pair of magnets to navigate along the line – the one below the plate moves the one on top.
4. Discovering magnification
This is a nice easy activity that you can set up and leave the children to explore on their own (or in small groups). You'll need a tray (or shallow box/crate), a selection of objects with interesting details and/or textures, and a set of magnifying glasses. To extend this activity you could ask the children to draw some of the details/patterns that they find.
5. Homemade marble runs
For this activity you'll need some tape and a collection of things like cardboard tubes, plastic bottles and egg cartons. You could ask the children to contribute by bringing in recycled materials from home, and use this as an opportunity to have a discussion about recycling. Use these materials to assemble a marble run together, exploring principles such as the effect of gradient on speed.
6. Weather station
There are lots of great activities for learning about weather – here are just a few:
- Make wind chimes out of plastic bottles or beads and hang them up outside
- Make a wind sock out of strips of waterproof material taped around a plastic ring to work out the direction of the wind
- Make a rainwater collector out of a plastic bottle with the top cut off to measure rainfall
7. How do plants grow?
This is more of an ongoing science activity, but if you choose quick-growing seeds the children won't have to wait too long before they start seeing results. Cress is the classic quick-growing plant and lends itself to creative uses such as hair for a monster, but you could also try sunflowers or herbs.
8. Crazy cornflour slime
This activity is messy but really fun and hands-on. Children love exploring the strange properties of this cross between a liquid and a solid. For best results use a large shallow container that you can put on the floor, like a sand/water tray. Mix cornflour and water until you have a slime consistency. Try punching the slime – it instantly turns solid. Roll some slime into a ball in your hand and then stop – it turns back into a liquid.
9. Magic dancing milk
For this activity – an engaging introduction to chemical reactions – you'll need a shallow dish, full-fat milk, food colouring, cotton buds and washing up liquid. Pour some milk into the dish, add some drops of food colouring, then dab with a cotton bud dipped in washing up liquid. Use a few different colours at the same time for maximum impact and try dabbing in different places.
10. Colourful capillary action
Show how water moves up through plants using food colouring. This activity works particularly well with celery, but you could also use flowers with white petals. Place some celery sticks (preferably with leafy tops) in separate glasses of water, then add different colours to each glass. Within an hour or two the celery will change colour as the dye moves up through capillary action.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 30 January 2020
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