3 AWESOME & EASY STEM / STEAM CRAFTS TO BUILD
Interactive games that are fun and a little bit challenging are always a win-win! They keep our children engaged and potentially also teach us a thing ot two! This week, we're exploring integrated approaches to learning that encourages children to think more broadly about real-world problems. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) are basic models that teach children to bridge subjects and problem solve.
Within these philosophies have emerged activities and crafts that are most beneficial for students to learn. Some fun crafts to create include: the Yardstick Launcher, the Balancing Buddy, and Math Fact Triangle.
The Yardstick Launcher which hurls balls towards a target, allows children to learn about energy and levers. A Balancing Buddy exercise that allows children to understand the importance of gravity, mass and weight. And the Math Fact Triangle activity will also allow children to master math problems easier.
Just remember, some of these crafts can be a little tricky. Make sure to keep an eye on materials at all times. Now - let’s create some cool crafts!
THE YARDSTICK LAUNCHER
The Yardstick Launcher will hurl lightweight balls and toys towards a target of your choosing. By setting up a simple lever made from a yardstick and a can, your child can apply force to one side, causing the unattached load to go flying. By changing the amount of effort it takes to move the balls (closer to cups), your child can see how changing the load and pressure can affect how far the balls will fly.
Clean metal can, scrapbook paper, tape, yardstick, acrylic paint and paintbrush, hot glue, 4 plastic party cups, rubber band, ping-pong balls or other smalls objects
The how to:
1. Cover your metal can with your scrapbook paper and secure it with some tape. Option: you can paint your yardstick - just make sure to let it dry.
2. Use the hot glue carefully to attach the plastic party cups to one end of the yardstick (an adult's job). Secure the can to the middle of the yardstick with a rubber band.
3. Place the ping-pong balls or other small objects in the cups, then step down on the other end of the yardstick to launch the objects into the air and across the room. This is fun to do with objects of different weight and size to see how far they travel
THE BALANCING BUDDY
The Balancing Buddy activity teaches your child about gravity, and the point where an object’s mass is evenly distributed. Roll two modeling clay balls and press them into the ends of the skewer to see how it balances on your finger. The weight of the balls must be even for it to balance, and by adjusting each ball your child can see how gravity forces it to lose balance.
Wine cork, two 12-inch bamboo skewers, toothpicks, modeling clay, and decorations (paper, googly eyes, and paint)
The how to:
1. Place a cork upright on the table. Press the pointed end of the bamboo skewer into one side of the cork at a 45-degree angle - with the ends pointing upwards. Repeat this step on the opposite side of the cork. Next, press the toothpick into the center of your cork.
2. Roll two equal-size balls of modeling clay and press them onto the ends of the skewers. Decorate the cork as desired.
3. Place the tip of the toothpick on your finger to see if the toy balances. If it leans to one side, adjust the angles of the skewers until it stands up straight.
MATH FACT TRIANGLE
With the Math Fact Triangles, children can learn and practice solving math problems. The triangles allow children to learn new tricks to solve problems, and allow for faster problem solving and flexible thinking.
Cardstock or craft foam, scissors, and a sharpie pen
The how to:
1. Cut out equal-size triangles from different shades of craft foam or cardstock. Paper works here too but it may be a bit flimsy. Consider folding paper in half to give it more durability.
2. Sharpie to write an addition/subtraction or multiplication/division equation (depending on your child’s skills) on each triangle, placing one number in each corner; circle the answer.
3. Flip the triangles over. Choose one, cover the circled answer with your finger, and ask your child to solve it. (To practice the opposite operation, cover one of the other numbers.)