3 Easy STEM Activities for Your Child’s Holiday Break

Back to Blog
STEM Activities

3 Easy STEM Activities for Your Child’s Holiday Break

Not all STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities require complicated steps and specialized materials. As you spend time with your family over a well-deserved holiday break, we invite you to enjoy the following STEM activities that can be easily completed with everyday household items. Try one of these out today and share your results with us on our Camp Invention® Facebook page!

 

1. Powdered Pepper

Materials Needed

  • Flat surface 
  • Pepper
  • Plastic spoon
  • Wool

 

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Scatter pepper on a table.
  2. Rub a plastic spoon on wool.
  3. Hold the spoon over the pepper.
  4. Watch it DANCE!

 

What Are We Discovering?

Watch as the pepper leaps and clings to the spoon! Why? When you rub the spoon against wool, you are taking electrons (negative charges) from the wool and transferring them to the spoon. The spoon has picked up extra electrons and now has a negative charge. Holding it near a neutral object, like pepper, will cause the object to become attracted to the spoon.

 

2. Water Balloon Parachutes

Materials Needed

  • Grocery bags or old clothes
  • Tape
  • Water balloons

 

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Fill your balloons with water.
  2. Attach a grocery bag or scrap of old clothing to your balloon using tape to form a canopy.
  3. Safely stand on a high space like the top of a slide or at a window.
  4. Gently toss your creation to see how effective your parachute is — cowabunga!

 

What Are We Discovering?

When you toss the parachute up, the canopy fills with air, creating air resistance. Air resistance is pushing the parachute upward, and gravity is pulling the parachute downward. If the forces were equal in strength, the parachute would not move. Since gravity is stronger, the parachute is attracted downward, and it floats down slowly, protecting the water balloon from instant impact.

 

3. Ice Excavation

Materials Needed

  • Balloon
  • Clear cup
  • Food coloring
  • Fruit or small plastic toy figures
  • Ice cube tray
  • Salt
  • Spoon or craft sticks
  • String
  • Water

 

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Find several small pieces of fruit or other small objects that can get wet.
  2. Place the items inside an ice cube tray, fill with water and place in the freezer to create frozen artifacts.
  3. Once frozen, place the ice cubes in a cup of water.
  4. Sprinkle the ice cubes with salt, and after waiting for two minutes, fish the cubes out with a piece of string.
  5. Use spoons or craft sticks to chip and dig your way through the ice, uncovering the frozen artifacts.

 

What Are We Discovering?

Do you know what the hydrogen and oxygen atoms found in liquid water will do when the water is cooled below 32° F? The atoms lock together in patterns, forming a crystal! The crystals take up a lot more space than the moving liquid molecules in water, which is why if you freeze a full bottle of water, it bulges out. It’s also why ice cubes float! Another cool fact — ice has 15 different crystal forms!

Why does salt make ice melt? This reaction happens because salt lowers the freezing point of the ice, meaning that the temperature has to be even lower for the water to stay frozen. Why did the string catch the ice cubes after using salt? The salt melted the ice, but since it was only a small amount of salt, the water around the ice cubes rapidly froze again, trapping the string in the newly formed ice layer!

 

Looking for an exciting new way to explore STEM?

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, we invite you to visit our website!

Related Articles