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STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Smile Map

Celebrate Give Kids a Smile Day (Feb. 7) with this fun STEAM activity that will help put a smile on your face!


Materials Needed

  • Brown paper bag
  • Drawing materials (crayons, markers, pencils)
  • Index cards
  • Scissors
  • Stickers or other art supplies


Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Begin by cutting the brown paper bag along the seams so it is flat. Then, cut it into the shape of a map — it could be rectangular or a free-form shape like an island.
  2. Use the science of friction to crinkle, crumple and rub the brown paper bag together until it is soft and looks worn.
  3. Next, draw a map that represents the layout of your home by completing the following:
    • Draw lines leading to some rooms in your home, marking each location with an “X.”
    • Place a big “X” at the final location.
    • Write where to start on the map.
    • Decorate the map using markers, stickers or other art supplies.
  4. Then, place index cards in each room with a riddle on the front and the answer on the back. For example, the front of the index card would say, “What do you call an alligator wearing a vest?” and the back of the index card would say, “An investigator!”
    • Can’t think of a riddle? Write down a fun fact that will make someone smile!
    • Need some ideas for riddles or fun facts? Ask an adult and then look up some fun facts and kid-friendly riddles online.
  5. Remember to put the BEST fact or riddle in the final location!
  6. When you are ready, have a family member use the map to find each of the index cards.


What Are We Discovering?

Treasure hunts, riddles and games are ways of bringing bright smiles to our faces. Do you know why it’s so important to smile? According to some studies, smiling can contribute to a “positive feedback loop of happiness.” When we smile, our muscles “fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating our reward system, and further increasing our level of happy hormones, or endorphins.” In other words, when your brain is happy, you smile, and when you smile, it can help your brain feel happy.

With her invention of nanocomposite dental materials, National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee Sumita Mitra has helped people smile! These materials can be used for restoring teeth in any area of the mouth, mimicking the beauty of natural teeth and offering better polish retention and superior strength compared to other dental composites. What might you invent that will make people smile?


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, check out our website!

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