Summer STEM Activities for the Whole Family
Many of us across the country will find ourselves experiencing the summer of 2020 very differently than we expected a few months ago. With vacation plans on hold, parents and caregivers working remotely, camps closed, and internships cancelled, families may be struggling to fill the hot summer months.
Thanks to several PLTW teachers, we have compiled a list of activities and resources to keep learners of all ages – and their families – engaged in STEM learning while having fun this summer. What will you try first?
Enjoy Some Science Snacks
Hungry to learn something new? While San Francisco’s Exploratorium is temporarily closed, you can still access Science Snacks – hands-on activities that allow you to explore phenomena using materials from around your house. Try making your own record player, see how far a marshmallow can travel through the air, and test your sense of taste! Best of all – materials needed for the activities are inexpensive and include items commonly found in most households.
Grow Your Own Recycled Food
Have you ever thought about growing your own food? You can – using table scraps from your kitchen. The Farmer’s Almanac has instructions on how to grow 12 common vegetables that you might already have on hand. Make your own garden journal to record important information like growth data and weather patterns. Remember to include annotated drawings and pictures!
Bake Bread with Science
While many zoos across the country and world are currently closed to the public, you can create your own microbial zoo with flour and water. This mixture, and the microbes that grow in it, are responsible for the flavor of sourdough bread! After baking your bread, you can compare your data and bread results with citizen scientists around the world as they discover how different kinds of flour affect microbial growth, and how those microbes affect the taste and texture of your bread.
Visit Zoos Virtually
If that microbial zoo still left you wanting to see lions, tigers, and bears, some zoos continue to offer online experiences. The Dublin Zoo offers opportunities to learn to eat like Bangui the Gorilla, explore the savannah with giraffes, and learn how elephants communicate – all without your passport. You can also explore the habits and habitats of animals from around the world using the live webcams at the San Diego Zoo. Use what you learn about habitats to design your own zoo in the Minecraft Earth app, and explore your life-size designs using the augmented reality feature.
Combine Art and Nature in a Fun Engineering Challenge
Share It! Science offers a variety of activities and resources, including a Nature Sculpture Engineering Challenge that you can do in your own backyard. The site provides engineering challenge ideas using the engineering design process to sculpt your creation. You have only one limitation – use only natural materials.
Explore the Earth and Beyond
You can explore earth and space with NASA Science Space Place. The site provides links to a variety of crafts and games. You can flex your artistic muscle as you Make a Stained Glass Earth or test your engineering skills as you Make a Balloon-powered Nanorover. From your iOS, PC, or Mac, you can also play fun, space-themed games like Comet Quest or Mission to Jupiter.
Learn to Code While Creating Interactive Stories and More
A project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch allows users to program interactive stories, games, and animation as you hone some of the same transportable skills developed in PLTW programs, such as collaboration and creative thinking. You can even share your creations with their online community around the world. While Scratch is designed for ages 8-16, ScratchJr is available for ages 5-7.
Explore Through Curiosity
Wonderopolis offers over 2,600 wonders and counting. With a new wonder added daily – like “Can animals get sunburns?” and “What do your intestines do?” – learners of all ages and interests can explore and discover. Where will your curiosity lead you?
Special thanks to PLTW teachers Kelly Garcia, Davida Harden, and Angie Kendall for helping us to compile this list.