On November 8th 2019, we will celebrate National STEM Day to get kids excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Together the STEM subjects represent some of the fastest-growing and most in-demand fields in the United States.
While STEM topics seem a natural fit in high schools and post-secondary curriculum, education experts are promoting a focus on STEM subjects for younger and younger children. You might be asking, what will a four or five-year-old student be able to understand about these subjects?
Why Provide a STEM Education to Elementary Students?
Research shows that children are ready to start learning STEM topics very early in life. According to the Early Childhood STEM Working Group, one of the most successful ways to keep children engaged in STEM studies is to guide them through natural exploration and experimentation.
Children naturally have a sense of curiosity and like to ask questions about the world around them. Parents and educators can foster this curiosity by guiding children through their journey and by providing additional questions, explanations, and examples to help inspire deeper exploration.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of 49 great activities that you can do with children at home or in the classroom to engage curiosity and interest in STEM subjects.
49 STEM Activities to Engage Your Students on National STEM Day
Teaching children about STEM isn’t something that needs to be done out of a book. You can play activities, do experiments, and have class discussions to better engage students with STEM and develop a passion for learning. Here are 49 fun, hands-on activities that you can do with your child to get them passionate about STEM subjects. Happy learning!
- Crystal Names: In this activity, children turn their names into crystals with the help of some household items. Children get to creatively form their names with pipe cleaners and also learn about suspension and sedimentation in a water solution.
- Make Your Own Rain Clouds: If you want to use a model while teaching your students about clouds, make this craft together as a class.
- Apple Oxidation: This activity has children hypothesize about and observe the results of an oxidizing apple and learn about the science behind why apples change color after they are exposed to air.
- Red Cup STEM Challenges: This resource provides fun team games to play and see which students complete the challenges first.
- Gumdrop Bridge Building Game: This activity uses candy to keep kids focused while teaching basic concepts about engineering.
- Mini Water Cycle: This activity has children create a miniature version of the water cycle. Using a few household items, this experiment teaches children about evaporation, condensation, and precipitation in an easy-to-see way!
- Hot Ice Experiment: This activity shows kids how chemical reactions can result in some pretty cool creations! Using some household items, kids can make a material that looks and feels like ice but is actually hot.
- Stick Raft: Build a stick raft with your students to test which items make the raft float or sink.
- Uno Flip: This activity allows students to play the class card game with a twist while learning about addition and subtraction.
- Marshmallow Catapult: Want a simple physics experiment for elementary students? Try this marshmallow catapult activity!
- Magic Aqua Sand: Kids love to sculpt things with sand. Using this activity, you can make magic aqua sand together as a STEM craft.
- Virtual Field Trips: From visiting the Monterey Bay aquarium to walking on Mars, these virtual field trips let you explore the whole world from the comfort of your home or classroom.
- Santa STEM Balloon Rocket: This Christmas balloon rocket can be a fun and festive science activity for the holidays.
- Balancing Robot: This balancing robot activity can be a fun way to teach young students about engineering.
- Rock Scratch Test: This activity shows kids how to test rock hardness and record properties of different rocks.
- Addition Pancakes: This hands-on math activity is a great way to make learning about addition fun for young students.
- Think Like an Inventor: With this activity, you can help your students develop creativity and critical thinking skills, which are must-haves for studying anything in the STEM field.
- Magnet Worksheet: This activity shows kids how to test whether common objects are magnetic or not.
- Crystal Sun Catchers: This beautiful sun catcher craft is a simple way to teach students about crystallization.
- Balance Scale Activity: Preschoolers and early elementary students can learn all about weights and balance with this activity.
- Why Is the Sky Blue?: Who hasn’t asked this question at some point in their life? With this activity, you can finally discover why the sky’s blue!
- Growing Romaine from Kitchen Scraps: Kids will love watering their plant and watching it grow over time with this budget-friendly biology activity.
- Propeller-Powered Car: Think your students are too young for robotics? Think again! Build your own propeller-powered cars together, then race them to see whose car is the fastest.
- Oil Spill Activity: It’s never too early to teach students about climate change. Use this oil spill activity as a primer on why it’s important to keep the planet clean.
- Bouncing Sums: This game gets students active while learning basic addition–fun and intellectually stimulating!
- LEGO Rescue Mission: This game uses Legos to teach students about wind power.
- Marble Maze: Play this STEM game with your students to see who can get their marble through the maze quickest.
- Oranges and Buoyancy: Use this activity to teach students about buoyancy, a great beginner’s physics experiment.
- Rubber Duck Math Game: Read the book 10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle as a class, then play this math game together to teach STEM and literacy.
- Stop Motion Animation Activity: Make a stop motion animation video as a class to teach students about technology while tapping into their artistic talents.
- Money Battleship: Have fun learning about math skills and financial literacy as a class with this game!
- NASA App: This NASA app allows you and your class to view pictures from space, watch real-time events on NASA TV, and find information about current NASA missions.
- DIY Can Telephones: This classic science experiment can be a great way to teach young students about sound waves.
- Bake Your Ice Cream: Teach your students all about insulation by showing them how, through this activity, you can bake ice cream in the oven and have it come out frozen.
- Mini Robots: Who knew engineering could be so cute and crafty, too? Have fun making these adorable mini robots together in class.
- Upcycled Catapult: Go green with this activity and make a catapult put together entirely from recycled items.
- Magnetic Slime: Plenty of students already love making slime at home. Use this activity to teach students about magnets around a craft that they already love.
- Sorting and Classifying Rocks: Use this activity as a hands-on way to teach elementary students basic geology facts.
- Number Line Game: If you’re in charge of teaching P.E., play this game in your school’s gym to teach students about numbers.
- Amphibian Unit Lesson Plan: This adaptive lesson plan includes activities and tips for teaching students from PreK all the way to high school.
- Squishy Circuits: Use this class activity to help elementary students develop basic engineering skills.
- Building a Volcano: Sometimes the classics are classic for a reason. Build a volcano as a class to introduce your students to everyday chemistry.
- Why Do Apples Turn Brown?: Teach your students about oxidation, then discover together whether lemon juice can stop apples from turning brown.
- Life Cycle Worksheet: With these free worksheets, students can color in the life cycle of a pumpkin or ladybug. Then, read a picture book that goes along with the craft.
- Air Foil Activity: Teaching kids about air resistance can be tricky, but this activity makes it fun and accessible for young learners!
- Straw Rockets: Three… two… one… blastoff! Color and craft together these cute straw rockets, then talk about how modifying it in different ways can affect the distance students throw it.
- Taste Activity: Learn about one of the five senses with this fun activity, which uses Lifesavers candies to teach children about taste.
- Recycling Writing Prompt: Have students practice their writing skills while brainstorming how and why they can save the environment with this recycling activity.
- Dinosaur Skeleton Activity: Work together as a class to build a T-Rex skeleton out of toilet paper rolls with this paleontology activity that’s perfect for elementary schoolers.