As the leaves begin to change and a chill fills the air, you can find new, exciting opportunities to explore seasonal STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) connections! From going apple picking to baking a sweet fall treat, there is so much to learn — both in nature and inside your home.
To get you started, we have put together a list of five family activities to inspire your autumn adventures.
Observe Changing Leaves
As temperatures cool, many trees across the country begin to change colors. A green forest can shift to a vibrant palette of reds, oranges and yellows due to an unseen chemical reaction. As your family takes a relaxing stroll through your neighborhood or local park, notice the colors of the leaves and encourage talk of how and why these changes occur in nature.
Master Parachuting Pumpkins
Heading to the pumpkin patch to pick the perfect base for a table topper, pie or jack-o’-lantern is a sure way to have fall fun. However, pumpkins can be fragile. We probably all have experienced an accidental mess from a dropped pumpkin. With this STEM activity, your family can try to avoid the splat and create a safe landing for your prized pumpkins by building and testing your very own pumpkin parachute.
Learn About Horticulture While Picking Apples
As autumn begins, we find ourselves in the midst of apple season! Going out to pick your own peck of apples is enriching on its own, but you can also consider adding an element of STEM to your next orchard visit. Talk about the life cycle of an apple tree or introduce the work of two of our Hall of Famers – Sylvia Blankenship and Edward Sisler. Together, they developed a novel compound called 1-MCP that extends the freshness and storage life of fruits, vegetables and cut flowers. SmartFresh™, with 1-MCP as its active ingredient, is used on up to 70% of apples harvested in the United States, reduces food waste and helps us enjoy year-round access to fresh fruit.
Make Delicious Fall Treats With a Dash of STEM
Apple, cinnamon, pumpkin spice — oh my! Warm fall flavors become increasingly popular as the weather cools down. The next time you’re cooking with fall flavors, ask your child if they know that cooking and chemistry are closely related. It’s true — and it means your child can experience STEM learning with you right in your own kitchen! Practicing measurement, understanding chemical reactions and following a process are all important components of cooking or baking. Try our white hot chocolate or pumpkin fluff tutorial videos and learn cool STEM concepts while you create.
Explore Animal X-rays
October can be playfully spooky, so skeletons may be on the mind. However, this STEM activity is anything but creepy! Your family can work together to compile a list of interesting animals and then search for their X-rays. As you discuss similarities and differences between the animals, have a conversation about where certain bones are located in the human body and how they function together to help us move in various ways.
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For more ideas to help you bring STEM learning to life this season, we invite you to check out our blog.