12 best STEM activities for kids
Educational fun for all
By Practical Parenting team
January 18 2019
Keeping kids entertained during the holiday period is tricky. Extra-curricular activities can be expensive but you don’t always want to rely on screens either. Here are 12 great activities from Questacon and Samsung to get kids’ brains working, while having fun at the same time.
1 Try stargazing
This could be a perfect activity if you are planning on going camping! There are many phone apps that can help to make this experience fun and engaging like Star Walk Kids and Solar Walk. If your kids have some time to kill in the car on your way back from camping, get them to watch the documentary Cosmos which will help them understand the cosmic scale of the universe.
2 Grow something
Buy your kids an Algae Culture Kit and help them culture their own algae. Growing Algae is a great way for your kids to learn about biology. Algae grows extremely fast and in the future algae-based products will start replacing products that are currently made from fossil fuels.
3 Try video games that involve building
We know what you’re thinking, but some video games, such as Minecraft, can actually be a really great way to get your kids testing their brains. The game gives users an infinite set of blocks to build anything they want from the simplest of homes to the grandest of castles. For more advanced gamers, you can dig deeper into the code of Minecraft and start re-programming the world you build. The game encourages your kids to use problem solving and think creatively all while giving them a taste of coding. It is a great time filler for those dreaded rainy days in the holidays.
4 Experiment with 3D design
From the geometry of the 3D model, to the coding of the slicing software involved in 3D modelling, to the mechanisms and material science of the printer, STEM makes 3D printing possible and this will be an extremely relevant skill in the future for most industries. Download Tinkercad and get your child to have a play around – they will be hooked in no time.
5 Have fun with recycling
Consider new uses for materials you’ve got lying around the house e.g. recycled containers, toilet rolls, tissue boxes, even used Christmas wrapping paper! These can make fantastic building materials for creating all sorts of prototypes to solve any of the everyday problems you might encounter.
6 Create stop motion films
Use your mobile phone to create a stop motion video. Download a stop motion app onto your phone and collect bits and pieces you find around the house to be your movie stars. You can use Lego figurines, toys, plasticine, blocks- almost anything- to create an amazing film just by moving a little bit at a time.
7 Take old toys apart
Do you have any old battery-operated toys that you no longer use? Discover what makes them move, squeak or flash by carefully taking them apart. Use screwdrivers, scissors and other tools to expose the inner mechanisms. You could try and recreate a new toy from the original or hack two together!
8 Try water play
While at the beach, the pool, or in the bath, have some fun with water. What objects float? What objects sink? Can you create a neutrally buoyant object- something that doesn’t float or sink, but just hovers in the middle of the water?
9 Grow fruit and veg
Try growing your veggie offcuts or using seeds from fruits. Place your offcuts or seeds in a shallow dish of water. When they start to sprout you can plant them and try to grow your own food. Make sure to keep watering them out in the garden.
10 Become a wildlife adventurer in your own backyard
Download the app Questagame onto your mobile phone and use it to map animals and insects you spot outdoors in your own neighbourhood. Sightings in the app contribute to real scientific research and conservation.
11 Check out STEM YouTubers
Move from the TV and find some exciting STEM YouTubers to explore like Veritasium, Brain Craft, Simone Giertz, ASAP Science, Questacon, Academy of Science and more! There are heaps of fun and interesting STEM videos online.
12 Go on a day trip
Don’t forget to check out what’s on offer in your local area. STEM activities can often be found at your local science centre, museum, library, national park or botanic gardens.