Simple STEM Activities
Super Simple STEM activities are designed to be fun, interesting, and easy to do. You'll absolutely love doing them and they use materials that are easy to find. We will be adding one each week so make sure to check this site out every Monday. Each comes with a simple lesson plan and a short video that highlights the activity.
Plastic bags are made of materials called polymers. Polymers are made of small particles that bond together to form large chains. These materials are super useful because they are strong, flexible, and transparent so you can always see what is inside them. And, if you poke a hole in the bag with something sharp like a pencil, the particles can seal back around the holes as they try to retain their shape. As a result, the bag doesn’t even leak (at least much). Pretty amazing huh?
Candy is a mixture of substances including sugar, flavoring, and food coloring. Candy is designed to dissolve quickly when it enters your mouth so you can fully enjoy the wonderful taste. As the substances dissolve, they naturally move from a place where they are crowded, or concentrated, to a place where they are less crowded. This process is called diffusion. When candy is placed in water instead of your mouth, the coloring is the first substance that dissolves and then spreads out. This provides a great change to observe the process of diffusion.
Paper Rocket Shootout
A force is simply a push or pull. Forces are needed to change the motion of objects. In this activity, the force needed to push the paper rocket that you construct in provided when you blow with a force into the straw. The air from your lungs, travels through the straw and pushes on the rocker propelling it into space. Newton’s 1st Law states that an object in motion stays in motion and an object at rest stays at rest unless an unbalanced force acts on it. In this case, the push provided by blowing propels the resting rocket into space.
Objects sink when they are denser than the liquid that surrounds them. However, an object that sinks initially can be enticed to float if its density is decreased. When objects are added to carbonated drinks, the objects may initially be denser than the surrounding liquid. As carbon dioxide bubbles collect around the object, the density of the object decreases. As a result, it starts to rise through the now less dense liquid until it reaches the top. Once it reaches the top, the gas bubbles are released, the object becomes heavier and sinks again to the bottom. The cycle continues until the carbonation lessens.
Sounds are produced by vibrating objects. Vibrations are produced when something moves back and forth in a repeating pattern. With a cup phone, vibrations from your voice cause the cup to vibrate which in turn causes the string to vibrate. At the other end, the vibrating string causes the other cup to vibrate. These vibrations then travel to the air, then to your ears where it can be interpreted as sound. With the squawking chicken, vibrations travel from the string to the cup to the air causing to chicken to produces repeated squawking sounds.
This is an excellent modeling activity where students make a model of the atmosphere where water represents air, shaving cream represents clouds, and food coloring represents rain. Along the way, the formation of clouds by condensation of water vapor into drops, and the falling of these drops under the pull of gravity is explored. Next, students make some artificial snow using a combination of shaving cream and cornstarch. Finally, snowballs in the summer.
Cornstarch Super Slime, sometimes called Oobleck, is a simple mixture of two substances. This mixture is unusual and super fun because sometimes it acts like a liquid and sometimes it acts like a solid. When you put pressure (or force) on it by poking it or grabbing it into a ball, it acts like a solid and the mixture maintains it shape. Remove the pressure and the mixture loses its shape and starts to flow like a liquid. Kids can have tons of fun exploring different ways that they can get their slime to act like a liquid or solid.
A force is simply a push or a pull. Forces are needed to change the motion of objects – even tiny particles of air. Air is a gas made of a mixture of molecules. Like other gases, air particles expand to fill any container that they occupy. An air cannon works by applying a force quickly to the air particles contained within the cannon. The rapid movement of these particles forms a stream of air that flows quickly out of the cannon and across the room. How far away can you feel the puff?
As students observe the production of gas bubbles on the shell, they may infer this as a sign of a chemical reaction. In this case, a chemical reaction between the shell (made of calcium carbonate) and the acetic acid in the vinegar occurs. What remains after is the super cool, translucent membrane. This super thin but super tough membrane is also semipermeable. When the membrane is placed in water, water flows into it and the egg expands. The membrane is also amazingly tough. See how far you can drop it from before it POPS.