No matter where this summer takes your family, science will be all around you! From the chemistry-based process behind summer sweets like ice cream to the movement of stars and planets above your heads, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) can be found both near and far.
For a surefire way to turn any vacation into an educational experience for the kids in your life, be sure to encourage their curiosity, explore your surroundings and always be open to new questions. Keep reading to discover specific ideas for encouraging STEM learning on trips this summer!
Learning new things doesn’t have to mean traveling far — there are plenty of local STEM activities to discover. While every state is unique, below are a few ideas to get you started.
Check out a local museum!
Space, natural history and more can come to life as you uncover how innovations and adaptations have changed the ways in which we live. What inventions does your child think will exist by the time they grow up?
Take a hike at a nearby park!
As you hit the trails, keep an eye (and ear) out for animals, identify trees, take note of flowers in bloom and consider summer weather patterns. Ask your child if they can identify any signs of the changing season.
Head to the nearest zoo or aquarium!
As you peruse species from across the globe, take time to read about their diets, behaviors and other facts posted throughout the exhibits. Inquire about your kid’s favorite animals and set aside time to research the species’ natural habitats when you get home.
If you plan on traveling farther away this season, consider sprinkling some science into your daily fun! Vacations are the perfect time to explore your interests and learn something new — feel free to use the following suggestions to get the planning process started.
Visit the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Museum
Did you know that NIHF has a museum? It’s true, and admission is always free! When you visit our museum, located at the United States Patent and Trademark Office headquarters just outside Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Virginia, you can get to know our world-changing Hall of Famers, enjoy interactive exhibits and see cool inventions! Inspire your future innovator as they spark their creativity and learn through having fun.
Explore one of the national parks
Across the United States, there are diverse ecosystems, plants and wildlife. Talk about the area you’re visiting — is it a desert filled with cacti or a mountain range with an abundance of flowers? Discuss the unique features of the area and how different forms of life are sustained.
Uncover life along the water
If you are visiting a beach, lake, swamp or other body of water, consider the life it supports, from fish, amphibians, reptiles and aquatic mammals to birds, insects and plants. How does each play an important role in balancing the ecosystem?
Camp under the stars
There are plenty of opportunities to see science in action while camping. During the day, observe weather patterns and practice identifying clouds. In the evening, the sky comes alive with constellations, planets and the moon. Point out objects in the sky as you discuss phases of the moon and the movement of our solar system.
To get the most out of these trips, allow your child to explore their interests, help them uncover answers to questions that arise and challenge them to think deeper. With your encouragement, they’ll use scientific thinking and follow their genuine curiosity each day as they discover the world around them.
Looking for more ideas on how to bring STEM learning to life at home? Check out our blog!