momgineer

Sunday, February 5, 2017

10 Easy STEM Activities Your Kids Will Love

Top Simple STEM Challenges

It all started with a bag of cups and some tape. Blue painters tape can change your child's life, especially if they've been blessed with an imagination. Why not give that creative energy some direction? After you have gathered some basic materials, you are ready to start some simple STEM challenges!
 

Easy STEM Building challenges

Building challenges are easily accessible. You can use a variety of materials and get totally different results. Some fun ones to try:
  • books
  • cups
  • dice
  • sand
  • pipe cleaners
  • LEGOs
  • empty recyclable containers
  • deck of playing cards
Ask some questions to get your kids to explore the challenge more: What happens if the base is narrower than the top? Is this tower strong enough to support your weight? What about the weight of a small book or toy? Is there one spot on the structure you could touch or push and have the whole thing come crashing down? What happens if you mix the materials in the structure? Will it still work?

10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer


10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Explore Force & Motion with these STEM challenges

Experience gravity, drag, and friction with these fun STEM challenges. Start with a paper airplane. Learn the basics of making good folds and creases. Try out your design with some modifications. Questions to ask: What happens when you add weights like paper clips or pennies, cut flaps at the back of the wings and fold them up, or change the material (try it with small light paper or even big newspaper)? What is the longest distance or time you can make the airplane fly? Can you make it fly in a loop?

10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Use cardboard tubes or paper to create a marble run. Questions to ask: Can you make it take a specific amount of time for the marble to reach the bottom in a repeatable way? What happens as you change the angles of your tubes? Does the size of the marble change the speed at which it completes the run?

10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

What about a car ramp for a toy car? Can you make it so the car stops when it gets to the bottom? What happens if you add a jump into the ramp? Will the car land on its wheels or flip?
 10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Use hard boiled or plastic eggs and design a container that protects them. Can you drop it from the seat of a chair and keep it safe? What about if you drop it from a table, a high shelf, or even off a second story? What are some ways of protecting the egg?

How far apart can you place the dominoes and have your domino chain reaction work? What if the dominoes are of a different size? Will they still fall over?

Get creative with STEM and STEAM

Sometimes it's fun to get outside and get messy! Make a simple bubble solution with water, dish detergent, and corn syrup (a lot of water, much less dish soap, even less corn syrup - the amounts vary in recipes I've found but if you fill a pitcher most of the way with water, put in about a half cup of dish soap, and about an eighth of a cup of corn syrup it works pretty well. These proportions are less than what I have found online but if it isn't working for you just up the dish soap or corn syrup). Use pipe cleaners or straws and try to make a bubble wand! Questions to ask: can you make a bubble into a shape other than a sphere? What's the biggest bubble you can create?


10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

For rainy days or when you just want to go digital, head to your favorite drawing program. Try to create symmetry art or a fun word cloud with your favorite science words!

10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

If you are looking to go deeper into STEM exploration, I have a set of 10 challenges that include more details about the set up, as well as key engineering vocabulary terms and graphic organizers to record the process. You can can an idea of what they are like at my guest post on Minds in Bloom - there is even a graphic organizer you can download and print to get you started!

What are your favorite easy STEM activities? Want to save these ideas for later? Pin them with this graphic:
10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Top 5 STEM Challenge Materials You Need

Top STEM Materials To Keep on Hand 


Must-have materials for any STEM challenge! Find out which other items may be useful for you, too, and download the shopping list to keep on hand when you run to your favorite dollar store, craft store, or Target! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

There are hundreds of STEM challenges you can easily do with your kids (find many of them on this Pinterest board). After leading dozens of STEM activities, I found out that there are a handful of materials I needed for almost every challenge. These are all simple materials that are very easy and inexpensive to acquire.


STEM materials you can't live without

Each of these items has a slightly different use but these are the ones I always come back to. Disclaimer: I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you downloads of value and information about educational resources. The link below is an Amazon affiliate link. You can read my full disclosure here.
  • aluminum foil: good for structures, impermeable, and far easier to work with then plastic/cling wrap. Twist it, fold it, make a solar oven with it, or shape it into a boat. This stuff has got you covered!
  • index cards: smaller than card stock so final projects won't overwhelm your space, index cards can be rolled into tubes, folded into various shapes, made into accordions, paper airplanes, cones, or whatever your kids can imagine. Use either 3 x 5 cards or 4 x 6 - whatever you have on hand.
  • cardboard tubes: any STEM teacher could write an ode to cardboard tubes! The versatility of these things makes them completely invaluable. While toilet paper tubes are by far the easiest to come across, paper towel tubes are better, and industrial tubes (ask at your hardware store) or tubes you find in plastic wrap or aluminum foil are pretty much the best ever. Use for structures, marble runs, and more.
  • pennies: you can't beat the cost of this material! What you need to know about pennies: they weigh approximately 2.5 grams. They are also easy to store, count, and hold. They are my go-to material when testing for strength. They also work well to give stability to printable characters. The bonus is that if you lose some, you aren't out a whole lot of money.
  • masking tape: I am partial to Blue Painters Tape. Not only is it vibrant, I find that it is a bit sturdier than regular masking tape. Fair warning: kids can sometimes go overboard with tape. The best way to get around this is to rip off 5-10 small pieces and stick them to the side of the desk/workspace. 

STEM materials that will make your life easier


I have used every single one of these items in multiple challenges. Some of my favorites:

  • pipe cleaners - not only are they great on their own, they are AWESOME to slide through straws and create better stability but also the ability to link together easily.
  • craft sticks - opt for the jumbo ones! If you can get colored ones, they are always well-received (but not worth too much extra $). You can use these for kazoos, structures, splints, and more.
  • rubber bands (one of the most useful items ever. It almost made the cut for the top 5. It was clearly #6!). Get a giant pack! You will use them all in time.
  • string/twine - my personal favorite is this butcher's twine. It has a built in blade to cut that is very narrow, so you would have to try really hard to cut yourself on it. Bonus? When you finish, the cardboard cone it is wrapped around is amazing for STEM projects.
  • pool noodles or pipe insulation - fun for a variety of challenges and one of the cheapest ways to purchase foam (otherwise foam can be crazy expensive). You can even make really fun sculptures with this material.

Shopping list for STEM materials

Maybe you are lucky and scored a STEM grant, or it's educator week at your favorite local craft store and you are ready to stock up on STEM supplies. Maybe you just have a soft spot for the local $1 spots and can't resist. I find that sometimes I just can't remember what would be useful when I find I have somehow autopiloted my way to Target. Keep this file on your phone or print it out - you can then restock as needed. There might even be a few you hadn't thought of trying before:
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Even better than having to purchase materials is using what is already there. Don't forget to ask everyone for their recyclables like empty yogurt containers, plastic takeout containers, cardboard rolls, and newspapers. Every once in awhile you may even score something unusual and cool from your school cafeteria or custodian. 

What STEM material could you not live without?

I'd love to know what you use most or find indispensable. Comment below!


Clip art and fonts by KG Fonts, Digital Mojo, and Photo Clipz.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Why You Should Use Photos in the STEM Classroom

 Why You Should Photograph STEM Prototypes

Take photos of the prototypes or of the design process in your STEM classroom. It will make clean up SO much easier, and your students will have a memory of their prototype to share for many years to come. | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Take photos of the prototypes or of the design process in your STEM classroom. It will make clean up SO much easier, and your students will have a memory of their prototype to share for many years to come. | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer
This post is part of the Fresh Ideas for Teachers Blog Hop and Giveaway. For more tips, scroll down to the other Fresh Ideas picture at the bottom and click on any of the other bloggers for more great ideas!

If you have ever tried a STEM challenge with your kids, you know that they are proud of their hard work (and rightly so). Sometimes, though, due to size, construction, or materials, a completed prototype just can't stay assembled. You will no doubt hear, "But I don't want to take it apart/throw it out/recycle it!"


It's best to let your students know ahead of time when their prototype can't stay in the classroom or go home with the student. Some kids just can't handle the disappointment if they aren't informed at the start that their creation won't last forever. Don't worry though, I have a simple and very effective solution! Most kids can be quite easily soothed to know that their creation can live forever in their heads with a simple photograph. I know this won't work 100% of the time, but it really does seem to work just about that.

Worth a Thousand Words

While the frustration and disappointment is real, nothing quite captures the moment like a photograph. In this digital world we live in, photographs you can hold are even more special than they used to be, and are sure to please even the most reluctant STEM challenge disassembler.


Easy Peasy STEM Photos

You might be thinking that taking photographs sounds nice, but it is just too much effort. Who wants to remember to get out the camera or smartphone, take the photos, and then have them printed? While digital photos can be wonderful, especially if you have a designated STEM photographer for your class website, nothing quite beats a picture that can be displayed proudly at a desk or on a home refrigerator.

I am so excited to be teaming up with several of my favorite educators to give away a Fuji INSTAX® camera with film packs to get you started! This is the perfect way to capture the finished STEM project. Save the digital photos for the in-progress builds and the physical photograph for the completed model.

STEM Recording Sheet

I have created a STEM recording page/graphic organizer with a section to display photos from an instant camera. Please click the image below if you'd like to download and use it.
Won't you consider subscribing for more freebies like this one?

Fresh Ideas Blog Hop & Giveaway!

This is the FUN part! I have teamed up with some of my favorite bloggers to give away a Fuju INSTAX Mini 8 camera (with two film packs!). You can enter via the Rafflecopter below. For more fresh ideas, click the picture below. Each logo is hyperlinked to their blog post - just click and you will be taken to the post. With each post, you have the opportunity
Mrs. Russell's RoomELA BuffetKirsten's KaboodleAmy MezniCinnamon's ClassroomThe Room MomStudy All KnightBrittany WashburnInteractive Learning with Miss StefanyMeredith AndersonImage HTML map generator

 
Fuji INSTAX Mini 8

Don't want to enter the giveaway (or you missed it)?

Disclaimer: I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you downloads of value and information about educational resources. The link below is an Amazon affiliate link. You can read my full disclosure here.

I understand about not wanting to give away personal information (even though it is safe with us!). If you still think it's a great idea to take instant photos of your students' completed STEM prototypes, you can purchase this camera and film locally or from online retailers. Here is a quick link to a camera that will work with this free download.