Fun STEAM Activities to do with Kids
STEAM has grown in popularity in recent years as a way to educate children for the 21st century. Foster a love of STEAM at home with these fun and easy ideas.
Children are inquisitive and love relevant, hands-on experiments. Here are some easy ways to inspire kids to dive into science.
Give them a strong start. Use scientific words and make exploring a part of everyday life.
Welcome questions such as “why is the sky blue?” Questioning is a first step in the scientific method.
Encourage household problem-solving. Bread dough that doesn’t rise, an inside door that sticks in summer or an insect infestation in the garden are gateways to hypotheses, experiments and answers.
Create a kitchen science lab with common ingredients. Make ice cream in a zip-top bag, make butter from heavy cream in a mason jar or grow geodes in eggshells.
Have a blast – literally! Many safe experiments involve things that erupt. Make a papier-mâché baking soda and vinegar volcano. Drop Mentos in a 2-liter soda or launch a bottle rocket. Discuss the science behind the blast.
Grow a garden. Start seedlings from kitchen vegetable seeds or trimmings.
Relate science to hobbies. Learn the physics behind hitting a fastball with a bat or discuss how a gymnast balances on a beam.
Fun Field Trips:
Fernbank Science Center
Atlanta Science Festival
Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center
Michael C. Carlos Museum
Discover Science Center
Museum of Aviation, Robbins Air Force Base
Chattahoochee Nature Center
Most parents set screen time boundaries. But kids love devices, and future jobs will require technology. Embrace the benefits that build technology skills.
Make the computer your friend. Teach your child how to do research, make brochures for school projects and use spreadsheets for chores and allowance. Let your child research places to visit for a family trip.
Start coding early. Check out code.org to find fun ways kids can code online or without technology. Other online coding sites to try are Codeacademy, Kodable, Lightbot, Scratch and Tynker.
Introduce Raspberry Pi. Kids can use this card-sized single board computer for basic programming.
Let them make a stop-motion video. Some apps to try: Lego Movie Maker, Stop Motion Studio, Lapse It, iStopMotion and Clayframes.
Embrace digital tools in schoolwork. Try dictionary.com, thesaurus.com and khanacademy.com. Explore study aid apps such as Tinycards and use apps like myHomework and My GradeBook.
Does your child love LEGO blocks or Minecraft? Does she want to take apart the toaster or fix the cell phone when it breaks? She may be a promising engineer. Try these ways to encourage a budding engineer.
Teach kids the Engineering Design Process (check out a kid-friendly version at teachengineering.org).
Let them join a LEGO Robotics Club.
Keep building supplies on hand. Try wooden blocks, K’nex, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys and Duplo bricks. Keep cardboard, paper towel tubes and cereal boxes. Pair edibles like cheese, grapes and marshmallows with toothpicks or pretzels for building.
Encourage children to complete tower building challenges with note cards or old playing cards and no additional materials.
Create catapults using craft sticks, spoons, drink lids, rubber bands and pom-poms.
Build a Rube Goldberg machine out of household materials. This machine is intentionally designed to perform a simple task through a series of complex chain reactions. To learn more, visit rubegoldberg.com.
Join a radio control club. Planes, helicopters and boats often inspire children. Building their own encourages creativity and problem-solving.
Build a miniature roller coaster using materials such as pipe insulation, marbles, cups and duct tape. Watch them take their creativity for a ride.
Fun Field Trips:
LEGOLAND Discovery Center
Southeastern Railway Museum
Delta Flight Museum
Army Aviation Heritage Foundation and Flying Museum
The Children Connect Museum, Newnan
Children can be artists by painting, drawing, sculpting, singing, playing an instrument, dancing or writing. Take note of inclinations in these areas and foster a love of the arts.
Inspire creativity. Immerse your home in different types of art. Listen to music, collect art or art books.
Be positive. Even if you don’t think you’re good at art, try some art mediums along with your child. He or she will be more willing to try, too.
Stock up on art supplies. Water colors, finger paints, crayons, colored pencils, pastels, construction paper, sketch books and origami paper are some examples.
Experiment with evaporation art. Mix salt with water and paint and have your child predict what will happen to the salt and water.
Borrow a how-to-draw book from the library. Step-by-step directions will give your child more confidence.
Sculpt with air-dry clay. Your child doesn’t need a pottery wheel for clay creations.
Listen to a variety of music genres to open your child’s mind to different artists and styles.
Sign your child up for a creative writing class.
Read poetry books.
There are many ways to make math relevant and interesting. If you hated math in school, don’t project it onto your child! Research shows that most children can succeed at math.
Teach number sense. Work through problem-solving logic with your child. Promote math discussions with books such as “Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late” by Laura Overdeck.
Check out Texas Instruments’ “STEM Behind Cool Careers” for videos connecting algebra, geometry and physics to jobs like fashion design, flying jets and more.
Cook or bake together. Measuring, equivalent fractions and conversions are all part of recipe building.
Try grocery store math. Have kids weigh enough produce without going over a dollar amount, compare prices for the best buys and stay within a weekly budget.
Measure the miles. When going on family outings, calculate the miles and time it will take to get there and how much the gas will cost.
Assign chores and give an allowance. They’ll be asking you for ice cream and movie money anyway, so why not teach practical budgeting skills in the process?
Fun Field Trips:
The Apex Museum
Atlanta Monetary Museum/Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Children’s Museum of Atlanta
– Janeen Lewis
Taking STEAM a Step Further
There is a wide variety of programs available to encourage an interest in math, science and engineering. Universities are recognizing the importance of developing STEAM skills; below are four local programs. Fall enrollment will be opening soon and classes fill quickly!
Georgia Tech CEISMC STEAM Workshops
Two series of hands-on workshops are designed for grades 2-5 and 6-12. Younger students explore topics such as bridge challenge, electricity and induction, and egg drop challenge. For grades 6 and older, a variety of class choices includes Mobile App Game Development and Science of Infectious Disease. Saturday sessions take place throughout the year.
Fee: $50-$65. 404-894-0777.
Emory Math Circle
Math Circle is a free enrichment program for students in grades 6-12, taught by Ph.D. students and faculty from Emory and Georgia Tech. A variety of class levels meet six times in fall and spring semesters. Students learn how to think logically and creatively while developing a passion for mathematics. 404-727-7580.
*Georgia State University Saturday School for Scholars and Leaders
This series of five Saturday sessions includes a variety of hands-on enrichment classes for students in grades K-8, ranging from fine and applied arts to math and science. Sessions are available throughout the year. Fee: $195. 404-413-8029.
*Morehouse School of Medicine S.T.E.A.M. Academy, Grades 4-8
A series of courses for students in grades 4-8, the MSM S.T.E.A.M. Academy immerses students into the world of STEAM and its interrelation to health and medical professions. Saturday sessions are in fall and spring; a 4-week summer session is also available. Eligibility requirements apply. Fee: $300-$800. 404-756-5024.
*Applicants must meet eligibility requirements.