Back to Blog
STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Celebrate National STEM/STEAM Day

Happy National STEM/STEAM Day! Do you know what all those letters stand for? Science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics! You can learn more about each of these subjects by reading our blog, starting with a look at the science in STEAM.

To celebrate this inspiring day, why not create some art? Art can be used to express thoughts, feelings and ideas. One great way to get your creativity on is by using materials for a purpose that may not have been originally intended. Follow the steps below to think like an inventor and create a STEAM masterpiece!


Materials Needed

  • Bowl
  • Cardboard (large piece) or poster board to use as a canvas
  • Craft items (e.g., scrap paper, tissue paper, construction paper)
  • Glue
  • Items from around your home and outside (e.g., dandelions, shoe polish, food coloring, berries)
  • Paintbrush or sponge
  • Water



  1. Place your canvas in the bathtub, outside or on a tarp. Just like inventing, this project might get messy!
  2. Go on a scavenger hunt to find unconventional items that can make color when rubbed on the canvas. Don’t know where to start? We’ve provided some examples below:
    • Dandelion
    • Shoe Polish
    • Food Coloring
    • Berries
    • Not sure if an item will provide color? Conduct an experiment and try it!
  3. If needed, wait for the canvas to dry.
  4. Mix water and glue together in a bowl using two parts glue to one part water. Experiment with consistency as desired.
  5. Rip or cut scrap paper, tissue paper and/or construction paper into various shapes and sizes.
  6. Lay pieces of paper on the canvas, cardboard or poster board.
  7. Paint or sponge a thin layer of the water and glue mixture on top of the paper to seal it to the canvas.
  8. Experiment with layering and overlapping the items for a 3D-type effect.


What Are We Discovering?

Pigments are what help give each paint its own special color. They can be made from items found in nature, like plants or insects, or they can be invented in a laboratory. Interested in learning more about pigments? Check out an audio tour of the Forbes Pigment Collection.

Exploring new and unique ways to use materials is called materials science. Materials science often brings together the fields of engineering, chemistry and physics.  National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductee Harry W. Coover used chemistry and materials science when he discovered cyanoacrylates, a class of chemicals with powerful adhesive properties.

Coover was originally working with cyanoacrylates to create a clear plastic. He realized that the material was not useful for that purpose, but that it could have applications as an adhesive. This opened the door to a variety of applications from medicine to industry. During the Vietnam War, field surgeons would spray cyanoacrylates on wounds to temporarily stop the bleeding. Cyanocrylates are still used for a well-known product, superglue. By challenging the notion that a material can only be used one way, Coover made a lasting impact with his inventions.


Looking for More Exciting STEM Activities?

Thousands of children across the country have engaged in easy, at-home fun with our Innovation Exploration Kits. Each kit offers tons of materials for endless exploration and creativity, delivered right to your door. To learn more, please visit our website!

Related Articles