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STEM seems to be a topic that more and more parents are becoming aware of. It’s understandable given the high demand for people with STEM talent in the workforce. I’m sure I speak for many dads when I say that I would love for my child to graduate college and be in high demand. Finally all those years of dad nagging to study hard will make sense. If you’re looking to introduce your children to the world of STEM, I find it’s helpful to include fun STEM projects for kids when teaching to a younger child.

If you are new to the world of STEM don’t worry. You know the nerds have you covered! Check out our quick guide to STEM and why it’s something you should care about. Once you’re ready to take the next step the below projects are worthy of your consideration.

Why Teach With Projects?

Before we dive in let’s discuss why using projects is a great way to teach children.

STEM subjects can be tough to grasp and downright boring at times. Really, who finds matrix multiplication a good Saturday afternoon project? Not me.

By using projects kids are encouraged to learn in a manner that is fun. This makes the lessons stick as we tend to remember fun things more than boring things. Projects at home are also more open and freeing than class assignments. While messing a project at school results in low marks, messing up at home is simply a learning experience.

A few other reasons I like projects:

  • Rapid feedback as you see the results in (mostly) real-time
  • Improved learning performance since it is active learning (doing the project) and not passive (listening to a lecture)
  • Projects can foster teamwork and competition which makes them that much more fun

I personally enjoy learning by doing projects. Whenever I set out to learn something new, such as a programming language, I like to jump right in and create something. I might consult documentation or StackOverflow, but it’s mostly trial by error. It’s fun and provides me with motivation to get better than I was the day before.

STEM Projects For Kids

Buckle up and get ready for some amazing STEM projects for kids that can easily be done at home. Many of these are fun for people of all ages. You might even teach an *old* dad new tricks.

Science

First up we have slime. Who doesn’t love a good slime projects? Well, I don’t enjoy the clean up part so much. This project will have kids explore the world of science and chemistry when they create their own saline solution slime. Your kids can add in their favorite colors, sparkles, clay, glitter and any other number of items to make their own unique creation.

Supplies:

  • Clear or white PVA glue (1/2 cup)
  • Saline solution that contains boric acid and sodium borate (1 tablespoon)
  • Water (1/2 cup)
  • Baking soda (1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Extras: glitter, food coloring, etc.

Steps:

  • Mix the water and glue in a large bowl
  • Add the food coloring, glitter, and any other mix-ins
  • Stir in the baking soda to give the slim form and add some firmness
  • Stir in the saline solution until the slim starts to form
  • Get in there and kneed the slime

As you can tell this isn’t a long experiment, but it will introduce kids to states of matter, mixtures, and elasticity.

Technology

We’ve presented technology projects for kids before on Nerdy Dads. It’s kinda what we are passionate about. Today I’ll introduce you to a tech project kids and parents will love. I present to you the scrub brush robot. Fun for kids because it’s a robot. A joy for parents since it is educational and can clean small surfaces.

Supplies:

  • Scrub brush (I prefer those that can stand on their own
  • Motor (3 volt)
  • AAA battery pack + wires
  • Small weight (a clothespin will do)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Tape (Scotch or electrical will be fine)
  • Needlenose pliers

For younger children parental supervision is recommended given the use of the hot glue gun and pliers.

Steps:

  • Set the motor-to-battery connection using the pliers to connect the wires to the electrical ports. Use tape if needed
  • Insert AAA batteries into the battery pack
  • The motor should be spinning at this point!
  • Attach the clothespin or other small weight to the motor to make it vibrate
  • Glue the motor and battery pack to the top of the scrub brush
  • Watch your scrub brush go!

It isn’t a tough project for young children to complete and packs a bunch of education into a short time. If you have multiple children they can each create their own brush and race them. Bonus points if they use blocks to create a race track.

Engineering

This next project is a twist on a party favorite. If you’ve ever done an egg race at a party this project should get you excited. Introducing the egg drop (not the soup).

The objective with this project is to create a contraption that will prevent an egg from breaking when dropped.

I don’t really have any recommendations on supplies for this project. My advice is to grab a few eggs from the fridge. Make breakfast and let the kids crack the eggs. If they have never done this before they will realize just how fragile the egg shell is.

Next, task your kids with finding supplies around the house to create a protective device for their egg. With the supplies gathered it’s time to employ some record keeping.

Each child, and the parents, should sketch out their design and then write down what they think will happen and why. If the egg won’t break, what is the reason?

With your sketches and predictions out of the way get to building. Use tape, glue, straws, and everything else you’ve found to create your egg protector.

Once everyone is done place the devices on the table. Each person should explain what they’ve built and why it will protect the egg. Everyone can then write down their own thoughts on what will happen. Make it fun by holding a secret vote on which device will be the best.

Now comes the moment the kids have been waiting for!

Hold the devices containing an egg out at chest height and drop them. If the egg breaks that device is eliminated from the event. If the egg doesn’t break that device moves to the next round. Drop the egg from a higher position. Keep going until one egg protector remains.

This is a fun experiment because who doesn’t like breaking eggs. More important is that kids learn about forming and testing hypothesis and getting creative with household supplies. They also learn how to evaluate their work. If their device failed on the first try, what could they do next time to make it better?

Math

We couldn’t conclude a list of STEM projects for kids without including some math. Normally people don’t associate math with fun. Let’s change that!

A word of caution: this activity is fun, but isn’t for young children as it contains watermelon seeds.

Supplies:

  • Watermelon with seeds
  • Chalk
  • Measuring tape

Steps:

  • Eat the watermelon and put the seeds to the side
  • Head outside and draw a starting line on the pavement with the chalk
  • Have the kids measure off distances in 50 inch increments using the measuring tape
  • Spit the seeds and see who can go the furthest

Like I mentioned, young children who might swallow the seeds should sit this one out.

To incorporate math into this project you can do a few things:

  • Measure and calculate the average distance per person
  • Graph the distances of all the seeds
  • Draw a target and calculate the probability of landing in certain zones
  • Assess if the height and age of the person impacts how far a seed will travel

This is a fun outdoor activity that gets everyone out of the house. It also gets everyone eating watermelon which is a tasty and healthy snack. Combine outdoors, learning, and healthy food and I’d say you have a winner!


Get creative and I bet you can think of tons of fun STEM projects for kids. The important thing is finding a project that is educational and fun. This will help the lessons stick longer and will also give your kids something to talk about with their friends. You may just end up influencing more than your own child in a positive way.

If you’ve been asking yourself “what is STEM?” you aren’t alone. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is an acronym to describe these four academic fields. The term has been around for years and continues to remain on the top of many parent and educator priority lists. STEM-first schools get positive press coverage, government officials love to mention it when discussing education initiatives, and almost every parenting magazine covers the topic at some time or another.

Why Is STEM Important?

Parents want what is best for their children. If I’d never heard of STEM and you told me I should get my kids involved in STEM activities I might shrug. However, if you then told me it could lead to better odds of acceptance into good universities and a sound career I might listen up. STEM has become so popular for a rather depressing reason.

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) measures the ability of 15-year-olds around the world in subjects such as reading, math, and science. The goal is to see how well kids are prepared for the real world.

As of the 2018 PISA study kids here in the United States scored better than average in reading and science, but below average in math. While this at first might seem positive, it’s worth pointing out that our mean performance has had no significant improvement since 2000 (reading), 2003 (math), and 2006 (science).

Source: PISA 2018

Test taking might not be fun and certainly won’t predict a child’s future potential. What we should take away from the study is that we are doing good, but not great. As a nation we could do much better. The problem with the lack of significant progress is that high-paying tech jobs in the U.S. will go unfilled by Americans. This isn’t to say that we should adopt a xenophobic mindset that only America has great minds for tech jobs. Rather it is important as parents to prepare our kids so that when it comes time to land that sweet job at a tech company with cool perks and awesome pay, our kids can compete with a global talent pool.

Introducing Your Kids to STEM

If you recognize the importance of a strong STEM foundation you might also ask how you can help your children. For parents that already have STEM careers this might seem simple. However, not all parents have this experience. Even if you aren’t the nerdiest of nerdy dads you can still play a leading role in helping your kids develop STEM skills.

Schools Aren’t Always Doing It Right

Many parents believe that when they send their kids to school each morning they are getting the education they need. This really depends on the school your child attends. In some cases this is probably true. Unfortunately, in many instances this isn’t the case.

Take the time to review the school’s curriculum. If you don’t feel appropriate time is being given to STEM subjects you may need to be more proactive in your child’s education. Assuming you can’t teach the skills yourself at home, try finding after school programs. Here are some suggestions:

  • StemForKids – around since 2011 they specialize in engineering and computer sciences courses
  • Mathnasium – provides online and in-person math courses for students in elementary through high school
  • Khan Academy – covers STEM content as well as arts, economics, and life skills
  • MakerKids – provides virtual after-school programs with a max class size of 5 students

Supplementing your child’s education at their normal school with some of the above can help them develop new and valuable skills faster than their peers.

Find Fun STEM Activities

Learning might not always sound fun for kids. It’s important to find activities that capture and keep their attention. Coding games for kids can be used for just this purpose. These games will introduce your children to coding concepts. Many start with basic drag-and-drop activities so kids aren’t discouraged. Lessons build up to text-based coding. Your kids will learn how to develop games and their own websites.

Using games is only one such activity. You can find board games, like chess, that also foster STEM skill development. It’s also helpful to look around town for some fun activities. Maker events can be extremely exciting. At these events kids can go around and play with all sorts of gadgets. By its very nature the maker movement requires a curious mind. Makers can be of any age and they love to talk about their project. If your child can’t stop asking “why” take them to a maker event. Their curiosity will be satisfied at least for a little while.

Discover Activities Your Kid Enjoys

Not all kids learn the same way. Some enjoy hands-on activities and can’t stand to read a guide. Others will read the guide twice and watch a bunch of tutorials before diving in. It isn’t necessary to debate what the “best” way to learn is since we are all different. What is necessary is find the activities that help your child learn best.

If your child likes to explore the outdoors than go for a hike and bring along a book to learn about leaves. This could lead to a career in science later in life. Is your child a constant tinkerer? Pick up a STEM DIY kit and let them go at it till they succeed. Museums, summer camps, and similar activities can all bring excitement to learning something new.


STEM subjects are important and I don’t see this changing anytime soon. The good news is that parents can play an active and important role in their child’s education. Make learning fun and your child will have a distinct advantage as they enter college and the workforce. Even more important is that they will have developed useful skills and confidence all while expanding their minds. That is a win on multiple levels.