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STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Homegrown Holiday Gift

Happy holidays! Have you thought about making upcycled gifts or ornaments this season? To create some recycled floral joy you can give to a friend or bring into your own home, follow the steps below to make a beautiful poinsettia.


Materials Needed

  • Buttons (yellow used in the example below)
  • Glitter and other decorative materials (optional)
  • Glue (hot glue is recommended)
  • Paint (red used in the example below)
  • Paintbrush, small
  • Paper tube (e.g., paper towel or toilet paper tube)
  • Scissors
  • String or ribbon
  • Tissue paper (green used in the example below)


  1. Take a paper towel or toilet paper tube and cut off six rings or petal-shaped pieces.
  1. Paint all six pieces and let them dry completely.

    Dip them in glitter before they dry for some extra sparkle!
  2. Glue the bottom edges of five of the painted pieces together to create a flower shape.
  1. Take the remaining sixth piece and cut it in half.
  2. Glue the bottoms together to create two small petals.
  3. Add the two new petals to your flower.
  4. Take two (or more) small scrap pieces of tissue paper and glue them between a few petals.
  1. Glue the buttons in the middle.

    Can’t find buttons in the color you want? Take the buttons you have and paint them!
  1. Tie a piece of string or ribbon around a petal so it can be hung.
  2. Think about giving your craft to someone else to brighten their day!

Help Your Child Grow

If you’re getting ready to give and receive gifts this holiday season, it’s a great time to have a meaningful conversation with your child. Ask them a few of the questions below to help them do some self-reflection in regard to their perception of gifts.

  • Which do you enjoy more: handmaking gifts or purchasing gifts? Why?
  • How do you feel when someone makes a gift for you?
  • Would you rather give presents or receive presents? Why?
  • Do you like using everyday items to create something new?


What Are We Discovering?

A poinsettia is a tropical plant that is native to Mexico. Contrary to popular belief, the leaves are the red portion of the plant and the flowers are the yellow-appearing “seeds” in the middle. Some refer to this plant as the “Mexican Flame Leaf” because of its bright red leaves. In order to achieve this color, poinsettias are placed in a dark room for weeks. The lack of light causes their leaves to respond and change from green to red. Botany, the scientific study of plants, is a fascinating area of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductees Sylvia Blankenship and Edward Sisler made groundbreaking improvements in the plant industry. They identified a compound that helps keep plants fresh once they have been harvested. This means that plants can be picked and shipped long distances without spoiling.

Did you know that just like other inventions, plants can also be patented? A plant patent protects new and distinct varieties of plants produced from a single parent plant. Similar to other types of invention patents, plant patents are granted by the U.S. government and protect the patent owner’s rights to keep others from making, using or selling the plant for the term of the patent.


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!

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