One way that we have been transitioning to our new quarantine homeschool life is by doing family STEM projects where all the children, teens through toddlers can participate. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Our schools closed suddenly and I didn’t have time to go out and get a lot of materials. All of these projects can be done with items found around the house. Here are 5 fun family STEM projects that my kids love doing together at home.
Egg Drop Engineering Challenge
Create a contraption using different recyclable materials to protect a raw egg from cracking from a big fall.
We used items that we had in the house, such as:
- Cardboard toilet paper or paper towel rolls
- Plastic bags
- Cotton balls
- Challenge your kids to come up with a contraption that can cushion a raw egg when it lands.
- Divide your kids into teams with older kids paired with younger ones.
- Have each team or child select materials.
- Spend 15-20 minutes building the contraptions.
- Have each child explain their design and why they think it will protect the egg.
- Go outside and drop them from a certain height, like from a porch or a ladder.
- Celebrate success!
Build a Floating LEGO Boat Challenge
Build a LEGO boat that will float in water without using pieces that were part of a boat set.
- An assortment of LEGO or similar building bricks
- A container of water
- Give your kids 20 minutes to build their boats.
- One by one, put their boats in the water to see if they float.
- Take it further by adding weight (aka coins) to see which creation can hold the most weight and still float.
Water and Ice Activity
In this activity, we froze 3 of our favorite Star Wars characters to recreate Han Solo in Carbonite and the kids needed to figure out how to melt the ice and free their characters first. But you can freeze and try to rescue whatever objects you like!
- Plastic containers to hold objects and water
- Objects to freeze (We used plastic toys but nature items also work well.)
- Gather the objects you want to freeze.
- Put them in a container that can hold water and that is freezer safe.
- Cover the items completely with water and freeze overnight or for 12 hours.
- Gave your kids a couple of “tools” to try to get the objects out, such as cold water, warm water, and chipping tools.
- Watch your children try to think through how they are going to try and melt the ice!
Note: This is definitely more fun on a warm day so little fingers don’t get too cold.
STEM Structure Building Challenge
Using toothpicks and mini marshmallows, build the tallest structure.
- Box of toothpicks
- 1-2 bags of mini marshmallows
- Plate or tray to build the structures on
- Gave each child a plate or tray, toothpicks, and marshmallows.
- Watch them build!
Notes: This challenge is especially enjoyable for kids ages 7 to 11. My kids loved this challenge and made some pretty tall structures. For my younger kids, I used pretzel sticks and larger marshmallows and they made animals and aliens.
Paper Engineering Challenge
Investigate which shape paper column can hold the most weight: a circle, square or triangle column.
- 3 sheets of printer paper
- Clear tape
- Books of different weights
- Fold or roll paper into 3 shapes: a round column, a triangle column, and a square column. Use tape to secure sides.
- Place similar-sized books on top of each column.
Note: We found that after adding several books, the triangle- and square-shaped columns sides began to fold in. In our experiment, the circle column was the strongest. What will your results be?
There are a few ways you can extend the activity. In our case, I showed my kids some pictures of Greek and Roman temples to show them how circle columns have been used throughout history.
Do you have any favorite family STEM projects? Share your ideas in the comments below.