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STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Using Our Science Gifts

Need some New Year tips for enjoying those STEM holiday gifts and activities that are still in their boxes? Read on we’ll help you make, craft and build with these awesome gifts!


Materials Needed 

  • Any science-based kit or activity that has gotten as far as being unwrapped


Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Identify the STEM gift that may be staring at you in an intimidating fashion.
  2. Give yourself the space to check out the materials inside and peruse the instructions.
  3. Ask yourself some of the following questions:
    • Can this be broken into sections or smaller steps?
    • Are there instructional videos that may accompany it?
    • Do you know anyone that has used this and do they have any advice?
    • Might this be a good opportunity to involve a virtual or in-person “science sitter,” a middle schooler, family member or friend who may want to practice their coaching skills?
    • Is there any prep work that might make this more manageable, while heightening the anticipation?
    • Might you challenge your child to explore and read about this topic prior to digging into it?
    • Could the activity be paired with a science class or school project, completing two goals at once?
  4. Make a date, or multiple dates, and chip away at this activity together! Reading instructions and following them is a valuable activity in and of itself.
  5. Let us know if you found these tips helpful and report back on what you did to build your STEM-esteem!


What Are We Discovering? 

Nothing beats the excitement of opening a new toy — but it can be intimidating to see the words “some assembly required.” Although this seems like a barrier to letting the fun begin, it is also an opportunity to get the STEM party started! The assembly process allows kids to discover how their toy works. Whether it is as simple as installing batteries, or as complex as putting together a toy with a lot of pieces, children can explore what makes their favorite things work. If possible, involve them in the assembly process and have them experiment with what happens if they make a minor change, like changing the order of the batteries or moving one piece of a structure. This process of experimenting, modifying and then re-testing is something inventors go through every day.

It might also be helpful to keep in mind that most toys, whether complex or seemingly simple, have highly detailed engineering behind them. For example, take a look at the patent for the Flexible Flyer Sled. Invented by National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee Samuel Leeds Allen, this patent shows the multiple elements that the inventor included to help make it easier to control. A lot of simple toys that don’t require assembly, like sports balls and building bricks, have patents that demonstrate the thought, time and engineering that went into developing a toy that could bring hours of fun!

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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