7 Awesome STEM Activities - One for Each Day of the Week!

 

Launch off Monday - Build a Popsicle Catapult (engineering and energy science)

Materials needed:

-          Popsicle sticks

-          Rubber bands

-          Plastic Spoon or bottle cap

-          Projectile – Styrofoam balls (or Marshmallows or M&Ms or anything that fits the spoon) 

  1.       Stack 7 popsicle sticks together and tie each end together using rubber bands.
  2.       Stack another 2 popsicle sticks and tie just one end together with a rubber band.
  3.       Pull the 2 popsicle sticks apart and wedge the 7 popsicle sticks in between them.
  4.       Place the plastic spoon on the upper popsicle stick and secure it with 2 rubber bands.
  5.       To launch, place the projectile on the spoon, hold the catapult down with one hand, then push the spoon down with the other hand.
  6.       Aim, and release! 
Math Tuesday - Build a Gumdrop Geodesic Dome (Math and Geometry)

Materials needed:

-          Toothpicks

-          Gumdrops (or jelly beans or other semi-firm, chewy candies) 

 

Poke all 5 toothpicks into one gumdrop in the middle. Your geodesic dome is now complete! Press down on the top of your geodesic dome. Are you surprised by how strong your geodesic dome can be?

Questions to ask kids:

-          Why do you think Geodesic domes are made up of all triangles? 

In real life…

-          Greenhouses

-          Glamping tents

-          Planetariums

Tech Wednesday - Build a Robotic Claw (Tech, robotics)

Materials needed:

-          Modeling clay. The clay can be reusable, air-dry, or oven-dry.

-          Drinking straws (Recycle used ones to be eco-friendly!)

-          Tweezers

-          Rubber bands

-          String

-          Paper clips

-          Scissors

-          Needle

-          Cardboard tube

-          Objects to grasp

  1.       Cut a triangular notch on in the middle of the straw, about halfway along its length. This will function as a joint, and the straw as a finger.
  2.       Use the needle to poke a hole just above the notch, then use it to run a string through the straw. You may also want to use tweezers for this.
  3.       Tie a knot on the part of the string above the notch. Then on the other end, tie the string to a paper clip.
  4.       Hold the straw with one hand and the paper clip with the other.
  5.       Pull the paper clip. The straw should bend just like a finger.
  6.       Build another 2 fingers just like the first one.
  7.       Fix all 3 straws together with some modelling clay. The modelling clay will function as the palm. Make sue that the joints are facing inwards towards each other. (If 3 straws as difficult to fix, start by building yours with 2 straws)
  8.       When you pull the paper clips, the straws should bend towards the center.
  9.       Wrap rubber bands along each straw. This improves the grip of your robotic claw.
  10.   Attach the cardboard tube to the modelling clay. This will form the arm of your robotic claw. Run the paper clips all the way through the carboard tube.
  11.   Your robotic claw is ready! Try grabbing things like a ping pong ball or other objects. Which objects can you pick up easily, and which objects are harder to pick up?

In real life…

-          Car Manufacturing

-          Medical Robotic Arms

-          What if one day, someone loses his/her arm in an accident and we can replace it with a robotic arm?

Brainiac Thursday - Are you left or right-brained? (Brain science)

Materials needed:

-          Paper

-          A Pen or pencil

-          A coin (any will do)

-          Paper towel tube (toilet paper tube works too!)

-          A Phone

-          5 or more volunteers

Activity:

  1.       Prepare your paper with a table like so:

 

[Name 1]

[Name 2]

[Name 3]

[Name 4]

[Name 5]

Hand

 

 

 

 

 

Foot

 

 

 

 

 

Eye

 

 

 

 

 

Ear

 

 

 

 

 

  1.       Do not tell your volunteers what you are recording, so that they do not skew their actions.
  2.       Ask your volunteers to write their name down on a piece of paper. Note in the “Hand” row – whether they use their Left or Right hand.
  3.       Toss the coin in front of each volunteer, ask them to step on it with a foot. Record which foot they used to step on the coin “Left” or “Right”.
  4.       Pass your volunteers the Paper Towel Tube and ask them to look through it with one eye. Record which eye they used to look through the tube.
  5.       Pass them the phone and ask them to put it to their ear like making a call. Which ear did each of them put it to first? Record it against their name in the “Ear” row.
  6.       Question – How many of your volunteers are right-handed vs left-handed, right-footed vs left-footed, right-eyed vs left-eyed, right-eared vs left-eared?

Learning lessons

Most people who are right-handed, will also tend to use their right side of their bodies more, the same goes for the left-handed using the left sides of their bodies. But there are definitely exceptions, especially with the eyes and ears.

Majority of the world’s population (between 70 percent to 95 percent) is right-handed. Certain societies still place a preference on right-handedness today, and thus some children might be born left-handed, but trained to use their right side since childhood.

Animals Friday – M&Ms Camouflage (Bioscience)

Materials needed:

-          Plain M&M's candies (10 of each color). One king size (3.14 oz) or larger package is needed

-          Skittles (at least 60 of each color). One 16-oz. package or larger is needed.

-          Metal pie tin or sturdy paper plate

-          11 Plastic Bags

-          Timer or stopwatch

-          Volunteers: 2–4

Activity:

  1.       Have everyone wash their hands so that the candies stay germ free and can be enjoyed after the activity.
  2.       Place 10 M&M’s of each color in a plastic bag. You should have 6 plastic bags, each containing 10 blue, 10 yellow, 10 green, 10 brown, 10 orange, 10 red (total 60 M&M’s)
  3.       Place 60 Skittles of each color into their own bags. You should have 5 plastic bags, each containing 60 green, 60 yellow, 60 purple, 60 red, 60 orange.
  4.       Tell your volunteers to make a “bird’s beak” with their thumb and index finger.
  5.       The birds love M&M’s, so they have to pick up as many M&M’s as possible. But they must avoid the Skittles because Skittles make them sick.
  6.       After explaining, choose a color and pour the same color of M&M’s and Skittles into your pie tin or paper plate.
  7.       Set your timer for 20 seconds and say “Go!”
  8.       Stop the timer once it beeps and make sure no one is collecting anymore M&M’s
  9.       Count how many M&M’s and Skittles each volunteer picked up.
  10.       Repeat this for each of the other colors!

In real life…

-          Animals use colors on their bodies to blend into their environment just like the M&M’s do. This is called camouflage.

-          In nature, grasshoppers are green to blend into fresh grass, polar bears white to blend into the artic snow, leopards are spotted to blend into the rocks of the mountains.

-          The master of them all is the chameleon. It can change colors depending on where it is!

Lava Lamp Saturday - Make your own Lava Lamp (Chemistry)

Materials needed:

-          2 Tall Jars or Empty Large Soda Bottles

-          Knife & Cutting board

-          Timer or clock that shows seconds

-          Water

-          Food coloring

-          Vegetable oil (enough to fill the jars or bottles)

-          An Alka-Seltzer tablet. Only one tablet is needed, but if you have more, you can do it over and over again!

-          A way to make one jar hot and one cold, like having a large bowl filled with hot water and access to a refrigerator or freezer

Activity

  1.       Fill each jar or bottle with 1-2 inches of water, add about 5 drops of food coloring. Then fill it about three-quarters full with vegetable oil. Put the cap on tightly to avoid spilling.
  2.       Make one of the prepared jars hot and the other one cold.
  3.       For hot, you can try putting the jar into a bowl of hot water. (If you’re using a plastic bottle, be sure to just use warm water instead of hot). Be careful when handling hot water!
  4.       For cold, you may leave the jar into the fridge or freezer.
  5.       Break the Alka-Seltzer tablet into quarters with either your hand or with a knife. You will only need to use 2 of the quarter pieces. But keep the rest for repeat fun and action!
  6.       When your hot and cold jars are ready, prepare your timer or stopwatch.
  7.       First, drop a quarter of the tablet into the hot jar. Wait for it to sink through the oil and reach the water.
  8.       Start timing the moment the table reaches the water and you see a reaction.

What happened?

When the Alka-Seltzer tablet comes into contact with water, the ingredients form carbon dioxide. Which is what you see in the form of bubbles. But the tablet does not react the same way with oil.

When the Alka-Seltzer tablet reaches the water, it bubbles up and through the oil, taking a bit of the colored water with it. As the colored bubbles reach the top, they burst, leaving behind the bits of colored water, which then sinks back down.

You should have seen a faster and more energetic lava lamp action in the warm jar, and a calmer and longer lasting one in the cold jar. This is because the tablet reacts faster in warm water than cold water, thus causing the difference in the way the two lava lamps turn out.

Rainbow Sunday - Make a milk rainbow (Food Science)
 

Materials needed:

-          Milk – 1%, 2% or whole. Avoid using non-fat milk.

-          Red, yellow, green, and blue food coloring if you want to make a rainbow. Or substitute any colors you’d like.

-          Liquid dish soap or liquid laundry detergent

-          A plate or some other type of shallow dish, such as an aluminum pie tin. Check that the bottom is flat and not wrinkled.

-          Cotton swabs

-          Paper towels – for cleaning up afterwards

Activity:

What happened?

- The soap changes the surface tension of the milk, causing the food coloring to move! The soap lowers the surface tension of the part of the milk it touches. The food coloring moves to the part with higher surface tension.