It’s a great time to take advantage of the warm weather and allow it to inspire meaningful, learning experiences for students – and make some fun end-of-year memories as you go! STEM activities are perfect for focused learning because of their hands-on nature. Here’s a round-up of fun and simple STEM activities to try outside before the year’s end:
- Paper Airplane Study – Kids love paper airplanes. So you might as well turn them into a learning experience! (Bonus – you can have them clean out their binders and recycle old papers to use.) Have students create various paper airplanes, hypothesize about how far they will fly, take them outside, and measure how far they go. They can record distances, draw diagrams of the flight patterns (did they flip, glide, shoot up and then nosedive?), and rank the airplanes. Here is a good list of paper airplane designs, but encourage them to design their own as well! After the first flight, have them tweak their designs to see if they can make them go further or do tricks in the air.
- Create Lightning – As warmer weather creeps in, your area may see an uptick in summer storms. And kids are typically pretty fascinated with lightning. These experiments make it easy to create small sparks in the classroom. It’s easy to tie in a lesson about weather and/or static electricity. You’ll be shocked at how hard they’ll work to make this experiment work! (See what I did there?)
- Leaf Part Art – Give a brief lesson on leaf parts (feel free to pare it down to fit your schedule). Take students outside and have them collect some fully intact leaves. Examine them outside and discuss the parts they learned about. Back inside, have students rip a leaf in half, glue it to a piece of paper, and draw the other side back in. They can label the leaf parts as a wrap-up and make it as colorful and fun as they’d like.
- Build a Catapult – Ok, this one may be a little overly ambitious for the end of the school year. But if you trust your students with rubber bands and mini-versions of ancient weapons, they will love creating these catapults with rubber bands and popsicle sticks and testing them to see how far they can shoot and how big of an object they can knock down.
- Tell Time with a Sundial – This is a fun and simple design idea that would work great as a small group project. Plus, it has the added benefit of anticipation: students will be so excited to see how far the shadow has moved at given time increments. Students can hypothesize about it, and you can stretch their minds by asking challenging questions about what to do on a cloudy day.
- Predict the Weather – After a mini-lesson on cloud types, students can create a cloud viewer, take it outside, and use it to predict the weather. Use it each day until the end of school, making notes of the class’s predictions and whether or not they were correct.
- Fizzy Paint Art Show – Host an outdoor sidewalk chart art show–with a twist. This mini-science experiment will create fizzy sidewalk chalk paint. Let students work together to hypothesize how it might look and feel differently to use than what they’re used to. Give the class a theme (like summer fun, favorite lessons from the year, self-portraits, etc.) and let them design and paint their creations using this unusual concoction.
Don’t see something up your alley on this list? Here’s a pre-searched list of free STEM activities from our Resource Library.
These projects can be great standalone activities or catered to fit your curriculum. Either way, students will love to get outside and get their hands on something as they learn.
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