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3 Ways to Bring STEM Into Outdoor Play

There may be no better way for children to spend a summer day than to head outside to play and explore. Especially after staying indoors and practicing social distancing for many months, both kids and adults are eager to have some fun outdoors. As you and your family enjoy the warm weather together, we encourage you to try out the following activities that can help children make connections to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) concepts through the act of play.


1. Come Glide with Me

This classic activity invites children to explore physics concepts including thrust and drag by building different types of paper airplanes. To start, kids can select a paper airplane design to fold, or they can create on their own. After making sure their paper airplanes are symmetrical and the folds are crisp, children test out their designs by throwing them. Using a notebook or journal, encourage kids to record their observations on how their paper airplanes fly through the sky. Invite them to modify their creations by adding paper clips or folding certain areas to affect how they float through the air. Like many of the world’s greatest inventors, kids can practice the crucial act of prototyping, and through trial and error, they’ll learn they can improve their designs by using observations to inform their modifications.


2. Shaving Cream Race

Perfect for a hot day, this STEM activity introduces kids to the science of colloids — a mixture where one substance of tiny, dispersed, insoluble particles is suspended throughout another substance. Divide into teams, then fill buckets (one for each team) up to three-fourths full of water. Teams should stand in single file lines and place their bucket of water at the end of their line with an orange cone at the front. On a table or other surface, spray a large blob of shaving cream for each team. Provide each team with spray bottles filled with water, and explain that the goal is for teams to remove the shaving cream as fast as possible while standing behind their cone. For an additional challenge, encourage teams to invent a device to act as a shield to protect the shaving cream from the water.


3. Innovation Exploration Kits

Designed for children with big imaginations who love to build and tinker, National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Innovation Exploration Kits deliver some of the best activities from Camp Invention® right to your door. From designing an interactive obstacle course for a remote-controlled robot with the DIY Orbot Kit to exploring the science of bioluminescence and embarking on environmental missions to improve wildlife habitats with the Rescue Squad Kit, each kit contains everything a child needs for hours of fun and discovery.


Enjoy Even More Outdoor Fun at Camp Invention

At Camp Invention, children join their friends and certified local educators across the country to enjoy safe and fun experiences that help them bring their biggest ideas to life. Throughout the week, campers explore STEM concepts through hands-on activities and are given daily opportunities to play outside. To learn more about Camp Invention and reserve your spot in an at-home or in-person program, we invite you to visit our website.

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