Creative spring STEM activities for kids are a great way to get outside this season! Today, we're going to reveal four of our most favorite outdoor activities.
As you know, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills are now considered essential everywhere. Big STEM innovations have the potential to impact critical areas of life, such as solar, wind, and water energy; the regeneration of disappearing coral reefs and ecosystem renewals; smart cities, and more.
Furthermore, STEM education, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills must be developed very early in a child’s life. Not only for the benefits the skills deliver, but also for the love of instilling the thought processes around “what if?”
With spring around the corner, it's time for children to get outside, and enjoy the fresh air, with STEM-related learning activities!
Explore creative spring STEM activities for kids
Here are a few ways to keep kids busy and learning all about the world around us.
1. Make a worm farm
Most of us (and our kids) do not know that worms are almost exclusively used in Africa to degenerate landfills. These little creatures virtually eat any kind of natural garbage. All societies should understand the benefits of these critters, and instead of using chemicals to reduce landfill accumulation, just use worms.
You can begin on a small scale by ordering a small box of earthworms from any number of sources, even Amazon. These worms arrive in their own bedding, usually in quantities of 1,000. But it's important to get them into a larger environment – for example, plastic tubs with some peat moss and natural dried manure from any garden supply store will do.
Once the worms are settled into their new home, begin feeding them your garbage such as paper, coffee grounds, table scraps. Any stuff you would normally throw into a garbage disposal is fine. Your worms also need water, so do not forget to keep the bedding moist.
In this great environment, the worms will multiply – a lot! About every six weeks, your bins should be halved. Shovel out about half of the bins, add some more peat moss and manure, and let the remaining ones keep eating your garbage.
But eating the garbage is not the only benefit of these little critters. Here is what your kids can do too:
- When the bin(s) is halved, put the shoveled-out portion into your gardens. The worms will keep the soil aerated.
- Worm poop is a natural fertilizer. You can even purchase small sorting bins with several screens of different sizes that will sort out bedding, worms, and poop.
- Once you have the worm poop separated, you can either put it directly on the soil your gardens grow in, or you can make “worm tea” by adding water to the poop. Spray this directly on your plants (indoor and outdoor), and leave those chemicals on the store shelves.
2. Dissect a flower and discover the importance of bees in our ecosystem
Flowers have many parts: roots, stems, leaves, petals, stamens, and pistils. And each part has a role to play in its ecosystem. For this activity, you will need a microscope and some slides or index cards.
You might want to begin this activity with a bit of a computer search on the parts of a flower. Or, even better, end the activity with the search.
First, carefully remove a flower from its bedding so you keep the roots intact. Then, gently rinse off the dirt. Cut all of the parts of the flower into pieces that can be put on slides or taped to index cards. You should end up with a few roots, a piece of stem, a leaf, a petal, and the stamen and pistil from the middle of the flower. If there is a bud, cut that off too.
Have your kiddo look at each part under the microscope and write down what they see. Once they have seen the part under the microscope, have them draw what they have seen and label it.
Now is some time for research. Have your child access a website that shows all of the parts of a flower and, more important, their function and importance.
This can lead to additional research on the importance of bees in the large ecosystem and the current problem of disappearing bee populations. Ask your child what might be done to solve the problem of bee population reduction!
3. Wind as energy
For this activity, you will obviously need a windy day. But the preparation can be made in advance. For this one, you will need matchbox cars and a bunch of other items such as paper, straws, small magnets, etc., or whatever your kiddos come up with that they want to use.
The goal of this project is to determine which items, when attached to the matchbox cars, will make them move faster. If they want to do a little research first, let them. But then, they must come up with their own modifications of the cars.
You will also need a level patio or deck table that can be completely exposed to the wind. Here are some creative things kids have done with this activity:
- Some attached paper sails in different positions
- Some created zip lines with straws and strings
- Some blew up balloons and attached them to the tops of the cars
There should be no limits placed upon the imagination of your kids for trying anything they want, as long as you can find the supplies.
There should also be a research component to this activity. Kids should understand the technology behind wind power and the growing use of windmills to produce energy. Where might wind power not work, for example?
4. Water crisis/water collection
Scientists are well aware that we face a water crisis on this planet. Climate change has had a huge impact on this, including large areas of drought and water shortages in many places. They have been working diligently on inexpensive methods to change salt water into potable drinking water, and your kids should do some research on the issue.
But conserving water must also be an individual matter – everyone must play a role in this.
Ask your kids first what can be done to conserve water inside your home. From their research, they should be able to come up with plenty of solutions.
What can be done outside as well? Introduce your kids to rainwater collection, and see how many uses they can come up with the use of such water. Don’t prompt them. They should be able to do some creative problem-solving and critical thinking. Here are some common solutions:
- Use rainwater to water plants, both inside and out.
- Use rain water to irrigate dry areas of the lawn or covered gardens that do not get naturally watered by rainfall.
- Use rainwater for bathing dogs.
- Rain water can be used to wash cars (at least the scrubbing part)
- A bucket of rainwater kept next to a toilet can be used to flush that toilet. Most kids don’t know that flushing toilets uses about 27% of the water in a home.
- Rainwater should be used to fill birdbaths and outdoor pet water bowls (indoors too).
Enjoy creative spring STEM activities for kids
With a bit of early research on your own, you will find lots of STEM-based activities for the outdoors that will put your kids’ creative and critical thinking skills in gear. The added benefit of getting them outside and physically active is a cherry on top!
Written by Kristin Savage, a former educator who is now a writer and editor for a number of academic resource organizations, including Subjecto. She is passionate about the advocation of STEM education for kids of all ages.