October is a great time to introduce some fall themed STEM activities! STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. STEM related activities encourage children to develop problem solving skills, communication skills, and work together as a team. According to the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame article titled  What is the Value of STEM Education?, STEM activities not only teach children about the STEM fields, they also teach children about curiosity, critical thinking, and how to try again when an experiment doesn’t go quite as planned. Not only are kids learning about subjects they are discussing in school, they are learning skills that will help in everyday life.

 

In the article, What is STEM and Why Are You Hearing So Much About It?, the Engineering for Kids website discusses that providing children with STEM activities leads to ongoing academic success.  STEM activities also allow for children to learn about the world in which they live in through exploration and problem solving. STEM activities also provide hands on projects that allow children to be fully immersed in whatever activity they are doing.

 

Here are a few of my favorite fall themed STEM activities that you can try at home:

 

Activity One: Self-Inflating Ghosts

 

Materials:

  • Empty Water Bottle
  • Balloon
  • Sharpie
  • 1 Tablespoon of baking soda
  • Funnel
  • 3 Tablespoon of vinegar

 

Instructions: 

  1. Draw a spooky face on the balloon. Get creative! It could be a ghost, a scarecrow, a jack-o-lantern- the possibilities are endless!
  2. Fill the empty water bottle with 3 Tablespoons of vinegar.
  3. Fill the balloon with 1 Tablespoon of baking soda. I found that using a funnel makes this step easier and makes less of a mess!
  4. Attach the balloon to the top of the water bottle and lift the balloon so the backing soda falls into the water bottle.
  5. Watch the balloon inflate!

This is one of my favorite activities because it teaches kids about reactions. The two ingredients, baking soda and vinegar, mix together to create a reaction. This reaction creates carbon dioxide when the two are mixed together.

 

 

 

Activity Two: Candy Corn Boats

 

Materials:

  • Candy Corn
  • Foil
  • Bin for Water

Instructions: 

  1. Fill up the bin with water.
  2. Cut out a 6×6 inch piece of foil. Place the foil in the water and ask your child what they notice about the foil. Is it sinking? Is it floating?
  3. Place a piece of candy corn on the piece of foil one by one until the foil sinks.
  4. Cut out an additional 6×6 inch piece of foil.
  5. Fold/ crumple each side of the foil to make a boat.
  6. Have your child guess how many pieces of candy corn it will take to sink the boat.
  7. Place a piece of candy corn one by one to until the boat sinks.
  8. Discuss why the boat was able to hold more pieces of candy corn than the piece of foil.

 

I love this experiment because it gets kids guessing and allows them to problem solve. They learn about how adding walls to boats can help displace more water, which allows the boats to hold more weight. Additionally, they can construct different types of boats to see what kind of boat holds the most candy.