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STEM Activities for the Non-Sciencey Parent. Guest Post.
I love to create learning activities with my kids but I’m not great at coming up with ideas and making plans to perform the activities with them, especially when they are science projects or involve any sort of engineering. Honestly? The thought of STEM and science stuff overwhelms me and makes me feel like I have no clue what I’m talking about. Math activities, science experiments, stem challenges…basically anything technology based too is just NOT in my wheelhouse. And man don’t even get me started on slime! Ha! So I’m super thankful to Kim from Team Cartwright for guest posting for me today and sharing so many great STEM ideas to do with kids!
I’m a STEM mom. I have loved science for as long as I can remember. I majored in chemistry and worked in the chemical industry for several years. So it makes sense that I seek out STEM projects to do with my kids. I just love it.
But what if you don’t love it? What if you were never that into STEM and quite honestly still are a little intimidated by it?
I’d say you are pretty normal.
Look, I know that not everyone naturally gravitates towards science. And I know not every kid is going to have a real career as a scientist. But I strongly believe we do children a disservice when we don’t at least give them a chance at STEM.
So many life lessons can be learned through science and a lot of real skills are developed in the process of learning about science. It’s worth it to at least try as a parent.
Don’t worry, I want to help. This is a collection of STEM activities that are actually really easy to do at home. But they sound really sciencey (yes, sciencey is a technical term), which helps gets kid’s attention and lets them see themselves as real scientists.
The setups are pretty simple and they are fun. And more importantly, even if you can’t perfectly define the phenomena you are observing, your kids are still internalizing important information.
Science Activities for the Non-Science Parent
You don’t have to be a science parent to do STEM with your kids. In fact, your kids will actually get a lot out of the activity because you aren’t sciencey.
They will see you try, fail, try again, and learn. Being willing to wonder is the most important thing needed to spark scientific curiosity.
I like this one because even just saying the name makes me feel smart. Funicular trains are really just a pulley system. We all have seen pulley systems in action. They make it easier for us to lift heavy weights.
A pulley system is a simple machine. Simple machines are an important part of physics. So by making this simple project, you are teaching physics concepts. And all you need straws, cups, and tape to make these.
This is the sort of pulley system you see with ski lifts. So if you want to really make an impact on your children try making your own ski lift at home!
Kids love to learn about themselves, and a great way to start biology lessons is to look at human anatomy. The outside stuff is easy, but how do you get kids to understand that they have a lot going on inside of them?
The heart is one of my favorite places to start. Why? Your kids can hear it beating. (We have two toy stethoscopes and they both actually work. Not super awesomely, but enough they can hear a heartbeat!) You can listen to and feel a heartbeat and know something is going on inside.
This is a simple way to model how the heart pumps blood. And all you need are straws, balloons, and cups. Oh, and red food coloring to make the blood.
Did you know you can just experiment directly on your kids? Okay, don’t freak out. We aren’t actually performing experiments on them. But you can help them use their bodies to experience really cool phenomena!
For example, have you have stood in a doorway and pressed your arms against the doorframe as hard as you could for about a minute? Then when you step out your arms just float up?
That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. You can do so much to teach your kids about the mind-body connection and how you perceive yourself in space. All with just your body.
Want to build a rocket? Yes, there are lots of kits you can get out there for just this sort of thing. But you don’t need one. Well, not for the simple rocket I’m talking about.
You can make a rocket with a plastic Easter egg and a toilet paper tube. And the ‘jet fuel’ only takes two ingredients as well.
This is a great one for really digging into the scientific method as there might be some trial and error involved. But it’s a lot of fun.
Sensory activities are a big part of STEM exploration for little kids. A big part of science and STEM, in general, is observation. What do you see, hear, smell, feel? (Taste too, but only in certain situations.)
Sensory bins encourage kids to scoop and pour, which helps them start to learn how measurements work.
Sensory bins can be super simple, and one of my new favorites is rainbow rice. It is pretty and fun to play with! And it is shockingly easy to make.
Seriously, I thought it would take a long time to make this rice for my kids, but it so didn’t! It takes a little time to dry, but you can make rainbow rice in less than half an hour and save it to use over and over.
You Can Do STEM With Your Kids
These are just a few fun and easy ways to add a little STEM to your life. The most important thing to remember is that you can do science with your kids, even if you hated science growing up.
The important thing isn’t knowing it all. It isn’t about being able to explain every question your child has perfectly. It’s about being willing to ask the questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask why. Don’t be afraid to now know something. (Yes, I understand the fear of looking stupid.) Science starts with not knowing. Your kids need to see you ask questions and seek out answers.
Be willing to wonder.
Kim is the mother of three – a son and twin daughters. She blogs over at Team Cartwright about all things twin and activity related!