(This post contains affiliate links) Now, before you get all excited, of course, these activities can be enjoyed by both boys AND girls. The reason i decided to go with “STEM activities for girls‘ is purely because of how strongly i feel about the fact that there seems to be a trend of ‘girls bailing on science’. By this i mean that, while a lot of girls show an interest in STEM – related subjects early on in their schooling careers, their interest seems to dwindle, or they become focused on other things as they get older. This has resulted in a noticeable difference in the number of males and females in the various science and engineering fields. At this stage, the statistics are something ridiculous like 3 to 1 in most science – related industries.
The secondary effect of this is that there aren’t many female role models in these fields to inspire young girls and for young girls to look up to, and so, a vicious cycle is born. My husband is an Engineer (Telecommunications) and i get to see first hand the satisfaction that he gets from his job. I get to see the passion that he has for what he does, and i hope that by getting my daughters involved in STEM – related activities that they find engaging, exciting and fun, that they too will develop a love for the wonderful world of science, technology, engineering and maths.
You may be asking, “What exactly are STEM activities anyway?” Well, STEM is the study of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and the effect that each of these subjects has on the others. For example, you can’t really study chemistry without having a firm grasp on math and you can’t study engineering effectively without having a firm base in science. STEM activities and the STEM approach to studies are simply a way to incorporate a multi-disciplinary approach to learning. These subjects are the cornerstone subjects for many modern careers and having a strong basis in STEM will help your child succeed throughout life by not only teaching them valuable skills but also by teaching them to think critically and logically about the world around them.
Here are a few of my favorite project ideas that i think are super fun, exciting, and creative. These are just some of the great activities that have the potential to empower both girls and boys to further explore the wonderful world of STEM.
1. Electric Play Dough (Ages 8 – 12) – Great for anyone that loves the squishy goodness of play dough, but wants to take things up a notch. You do require a kit (available on the science buddies site) but, i think, with all the fun your little electronics engineer is going to be having, it’s probably worth it! There is a great, very detailed set of instructions here (sciencebuddies.org)
2. Paper Structures Engineering Challenge (Ages 7 – 12) – What a cool way to introduce your child to the principles behind engineering and architecture! I might just try some of this this weekend myself!The Homeschool Scientist has all the details.
3. Saltwater Density (Ages 6 – 9) – Do you have a little one that loves the beach? Ask them if they remember how much easier it was to float on the salty ocean water than in the pool, then ‘dive on in’ 🙂 and help your little scientist discover why. Get the details here (hometrainingtools.com).
4. Balancing Robot (Ages 4 – 8) – This activity gets kids thinking about balance and center of gravity, two very important aspects of engineering. Buggy and Buddy (buggyandbuddy.com) has a great free printable, so head on over there for a wonderful, creative activity that’s bound to keep even the littlest STEM explorers happy for hours!
5. Maths Shape Hunt (Ages 4 – 6) – This super cool activity can be set up for inside or outside fun, allowing your kids to explore their surroundings and ‘work out’ how shapes fit into it all. It is also a great way to help younger children practice their shape recognition, so it’s actually a ‘2 for 1’! Get the free printable and all the instructions here (playdoughtoplato.com).
6. Cornstarch Quicksand (Ages 5 – 7) – I’m a messy girl, and this is definitely my type of science experiment! If you have kids that love get their hands (and face, hair etc) dirty, this experiment is perfect. Learn all about viscosity with schoolingamonkey.com. Get all the details here.
7. Toothpicks Spatial Reasoning (Ages 8 and up, but everyone, really…) – This is great fun, and teaches your child to think outside the box. Great for older kids, but get the younger kids involved too, they might surprise you!
What you need:
A copy of the toothpicks puzzle
What you do :
Pick one of the puzzles.
Lay out the toothpicks in the pattern you see on the paper.
Tell your family how you want them to change the pattern.
Watch them go!
Once they’ve solved the first puzzle, move on to the next one.
The answers are included, but it’s more fun if you only refer to them as a last resort.
The Toothpicks Puzzles:
8. Build A Pinhole Camera (Ages 9 – 14) – What a cool activity to learn about the scientific principles of light and optics! And i’m sure your child is going to be pretty impressed that they’re able to create their artistic photos with something that they made themselves. Get all the details here (education.com)
Technology Related – There are a whole bunch of great technological resources out there for kids, and, even though i understand that it can be a scary place for us, as parents, to allow our children to explore, we need to let our children dip their feet in all that knowledge. There are hundreds of great websites out there for kids, but my favorites are these 10 great websites for kids (brightnbrainy.com).
Another new skill that is becoming more and more ‘necessary’ in today’s world is coding. Brenda from Schooling a Monkey puts it perfectly when she says,”Even if your child winds up in an industry where she/he doesn’t have to use coding directly, the problem-solving skills and techniques that are necessary for coding help improve focus, organization skills, creativity, and the ability to keep trying until something finally works.”
A great way to introduce your kids to coding is with one of these user-friendly books available from Amazon. (Affiliate links*)
Learn to Program with Minecraft: Transform Your World with the Power of Python
Coding For Kids For Dummies
Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math
Coding Projects in Scratch
DK Workbooks: Computer Coding
We all know kids love using their hands, so if you’re looking for some cool tech activities that you and the kids can build and figure out together, you have to check out this cool range of Google Cardboard 3D goggles (compatible with Android and Apple). This Virtual Reality Beginner’s Guide is in my Amazon shopping basket!
If you have a budding photographer in the family, why not consider this Bigshot DIY Do It Yourself Digital Camera Kit as a birthday or Christmas gift… While assembling it your child will learn fundamental STEM concepts in optics, mechanics, electromagnetism, electronics and image processing.
There are also some wonderful, educational Youtube channels for kids. My favorites are
- Make Me Genius – This is a cartoon channel is perfect for the younger kids (up to age 8 or 9) and addresses a wide range of topics, including geography and science.
- National Geographics Kids – An absolutely brilliant channel for kids of all ages… in fact, if your bored and looking for something to watch, you might even find something that catches your attention!
- Geek Gurl Diaries – This is a super cool channel for girls interested in going into any of the STEM fields. There are a lot of videos on coding, logic, video games,and electronics, and they even have bonus interviews with women in STEM fields to provide extra motivation for your budding scientists, mathematicians and engineers.
- The Brain Scoop – If you have kid that’s interested in biology, this channel is a must! Some of the videos do have some sensitive content, so be advised, follow the parental guidance ratings that they post on some of their videos.
- Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – This channel is super entertaining and fun (Being Amy Poehler’s, did you expect anything else!?) but really does address the issue of girls making the most of themselves and all their talents. Most of the videos are aimed at teens, although there are a few that the younger kids would enjoy too.
Also, don’t forget to inspire a love of STEM in your child
- Help your child find a mentor
- Find exciting STEM-related activities for your child to participate in. This could be a science or maths competition, or a build-you-own-kite day at the park. Discuss the specific STEM subject/principle with your child as the two of you are busy preparing for the project.
- Explore STEM clubs and summer camps – Kids get to meet children with similar interests, and learn to work together as a team. Extra-curricular activities like Lego robotics clubs or coding clubs are a great option. These kinds of activities help develop problem-solving skills while exploring concepts such as logic, maths, science, engineering, and physics in a hands-on way.
- Show your children how other young people have changed the world through STEM – find a young person that is involved in a field that your child is particularly interested in and help your child find out a bit about them and the role that they had on that specific industry. It doesn’t have to be something as ‘normal’ or ‘traditional’ as a scientist… if your child is interested in the Technology aspect of STEM, why not find out a little bit about Aaron Swartz or Brian Wong.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it with your friends and family. Also, don’t forget to check out the rest of my weblog here (brightnbrainy.com) Thanks!
*All that this means is that a small percentage of the sale comes to me, i ‘spose as Amazon’s way of saying ‘Thanks!’ for sending some business their way. I use those proceeds to help with the running of my household and with the upkeep of this site, so please, go wild 😉 .(Only joking! Brightnbrainy supports responsible spending.)