Chaos, mischief, mayhem, commotion, madness! Well, we’re not just putting random words together- it looks like STEM activities in a middle school classroom! But can we even blame them? They are, of course, the little trucks of energy. What if you can put this energy to good use without losing your precious peace of mind?
Middle school is a time of changes, a time to learn, a time to grow, and the learning is often retained in their minds to be applied in the future. Practical learning is the way to go! The primary question arises- how? Don’t worry; STEM activities for middle schoolers are here to take the burden off of you and strengthen your bonds with the little ones with STEM in the classroom. As always, Stem activities refer to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and that’s what we want to see in EVERY middle school classroom.
Let’s take you through a journey full of fun and productivity with STEM activities in the middle school classroom:
What is better than waiting for an ice cream vendor to enjoy the chilled treat? Making one for yourself! Yes, that is correct. All you require is a small sealable bag, pour in some half-and-half milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and seal it shut. Take another big bag, pour ice cubes and lots of salt. Now, put the smaller bag into the big one.
Take an oven mitt and shake it for some minutes, carefully observing the changes in the texture of the small bag. Repeat this with another small bag and a large bag with the same ingredients except for the salt. The children will learn about the effect salt has on ice, the comparison of ice in both bags over time, and the time taken to make ice cream in both bags.
What the children get at the end is a practical learning experience and, undeniably, a scrumptious treat for the task done with an addition to the middle school stem curriculum.
Freezing and Melting Points, Chemistry Basics, Phases of Matter
One of the popular stem activities that incorporate the playfulness of the squishy dough to conduct electricity, “Dough Circuit,” is the perfect experience to add to your middle school stem curriculum. All you require is conductive playdough, insulating playdough, Battery Packs, and LED Pin Lights. It can be either store-bought or homemade.
Since electricity takes the least resistant possessing route, the conductive playdough will allow the battery to pass electricity to lighten the LED pin lights. The child will learn a lot about the negative and positive sides of a battery to create a circuit, the science behind each ingredient in the conductive and insulating dough, and how the electricity ultimately lightens up the LED pin lights with this stem in the classroom activity.
With this enriching experience, science and art collaborate for an electric affair!
Physics, Electrical Engineering, Electricity Conduction, Resistance
Love the best out of waste hacks, right? Get the learning spirit in students going with this STEM in the classroom. All you need is a soda can, tongs, a stove, and some chilled water in a bowl. Pour some water into the can and put it to a boil.
Then, use the tongs to flip it into the chilled bowl. The result would be a crushed can! The innocent little minds will be shocked as to what happened. The answer would be pressure! Isn’t it fascinating?
Stem activities such as this will allow the students to make the best learning experience out of trash materials.
It is time to let go of the old, boring, and easy paper airplanes that give up their structure in a single flight. Suit up your fellow little engineers with this exciting stem in the classroom. Use old cardboard, scissors, and some glue. Let them configure the airplane parts- wings, tails, and its proper structure, equipping them with the freedom to fail and retry. They can design it the way they want to and learn more about the ever-fascinating airplanes.
Such stem activities will give them practical knowledge of engineering and help them unleash their creative self! Win-win, is it not?
Engineering, Physics, Wind Density
Straws- colorful and fun! What if we added them to the middle school stem curriculum? The result would be a mixture of recreation and knowledge- the best of both worlds. Building bridges with straws is an activity that requires the children to make many types of bridges- arch, suspension, truss, etc.
All these bridges vary in design, teaching the kids about tension and compression. They can also test out the weight distribution and stability of these bridges by placing coins on them.
Bridging gaps between incompetence and productivity here, aren’t we?
Engineering, Physics, Weight Distribution
Want to teach the young ones about the Law of Inertia? Worry not; this one-of-a-kind stem in the classroom will be the best way to make them gain well-retained knowledge on the same.
With add-on lights, the weight of the fidget spinner will vary every time we increase or decrease the number of lights added to it. Observing the time taken by the fidget spinner to stop and the role of weight in the changes will enhance their understanding of this concept.
Lesson Learned: Do not fidget around children; fidget with them!
Physics, Law of Inertia, Theoretical Knowledge
STEM activities help the children go above and beyond what they would ordinarily do. In this process, they learn more and retain more—such as this DIY Strawberry DNA activity, entailing the requirement of several materials, including a funnel, strawberries, rubbing alcohol, and more. At the end of the activity, one will be able to extract and observe the DNA of the Strawberry.
Always expect the unexpected with STEM in the classroom!
DNA, DNA extraction, Biochemistry, Genetics
Doesn’t the thought of making a helicopter seem unrealistic? Of course, it is a complicated structure with a lengthy process altogether. But, one of the stem activities in the middle school stem curriculum will enable the students to make the helicopter with rubber bands!
Firstly, propellers will have to be created with the help of craft sticks. Next, bending and attaching a paperclip to the propeller and a paper cut-out is required (a significant part). Lastly, attach the rubber bands, and voila! You have your DIY rubber band helicopter ready to fly 20+ feet in the sky.
Physics, Engineering, Aerodynamics
A relief to the children sobbing over amusement rides is achieved with this stem in the classroom activity. Take up the basic craft materials such as paper, scissors, tape, cardboard, and some marble. Cut out strips of paper as curves, hills, bridges, and a supporting strut. Join these structures, keeping in mind that the weight distribution is proper all across. Now, put the marble in and let it enjoy the exhilarating ride.
This STEM activity will teach the students to manage weight density, arrangement of structures, accuracy in cut-outs, and, well, to enjoy!
Friction, Potential Energy, Physics, Conservation of Energy
The replica of the ocean is here, and it is do-it-yourself! The middle school students will get an opportunity to understand the concept of density. The materials required for the same are water, ice, sand, and saltwater. Add food coloring to the different types of water to identify them. The result will be a flawless separation according to densities, sand being below while water being at the top.
Such STEM activities enable students to understand challenging concepts and are a treat to the eyes as well! Apart from concepts, it is important to keep the children up-to-date with the news. For the same, how about checking out our newsletter?
Density, Temperature Changes
A DIY volcano is just the stop to unleash craziness and learn at the same time! This stem in the classroom brings you an easy feat, including play dough, disposable paper cup, baking soda, vinegar, and red food coloring for a dramatic flair!
Create a base using playdough; add the upper half of the paper cup above the playdough. Add baking soda to this cup and take it outside to add vinegar with red food coloring.
Fizzing lava would be exciting to watch for the children and the adults as well.
Chemistry, Chemical Reactions
Another best out of the waste that might not be suitable for the middle school STEM curriculum at school, but definitely at home, is making keychains out of chips packets. Take the packet, empty of course, and put it in the oven for a minute. It will shrink and get harder inconsistency and would give a vintage aesthetic keychain vibe.
So, let the kids binge on the crisps. Just save the packets for later!
Temperature Changes, Chemistry
As grownups, calorie counting feels like a punishment. But the process behind the use of food as a source of energy is an amazing glimpse into the thermodynamic engine that keeps us going! Ever been hangry? Why do you feel better after having a snack or drinking some water? Why do Olympic athletes have to consume so much food? Calories have the connotation of being something to do with how bad a food is for you, but it’s really a measure of energy. How cool!. Bring in thermodynamics, biochemistry, and cellular respiration in a fun and delicious celebration of what bodies can do.
Mathematics, Data Interpretation, Statistics, thermodynamics, cellular respiration, energy transformations
It is a widely known fact that children, and some adults, are obsessed with the world of Robots! What if the science behind robot building is not that tough? There is undoubtedly no better way to pique the interests of the children than enabling them to make their robot by such STEM activities! Yes, it is indeed possible. The cherry on top is the materials used to make it- Junk.
Indeed, Long gone is when robots merely were a part of an Alternate Reality in movies and television shows. They are now the BEST part of STEM activities for the middle school curriculum.
Robotics, Engineering, Physics
How do you feel about a child making a pizza? Impressive, isn’t it? Now, imagine if that child makes an entire oven to bake the pizza in. Yes, this is no joke. An eco-friendly, low-cost, DIY solar oven is here in the middle school stem curriculum to boast about not only making the pizza yourself but the entire equipment for baking too!
What you need is a pizza box, cut it open, and laminate it with foil at the edges and on the inside. Put the black sheet in the center and put a cellophane sheet to cover the previously cut-out part. Finally, all you need is a skewer and some tape to keep the lid open. There you have a solar oven- cheap and effective, as are most STEM activities. Take it a step further by making your own pizza dough with a sourdough starter!
Energy, Solar power, Recycling, Microbiology, Cellular Respiration, Alcoholic Fermentation
This activity is intended to create a parachute for the tiny egg and avoid breaking it when it touches the ground. Required materials include parachute material, packing material, tape, yardstick, and a meter stick. It enables the students to carry out a trial and error approach until they get the appropriate result in the stem in the classroom activity.
Caution: Things will get messy, but so do most activities in the middle school stem curriculum!
Acceleration, Physics, Law of Gravity
Blasting music from a smartphone and speaker may be the way of living, but there is undoubtedly a kind of satisfaction in a DIY speaker as given in the middle school stem curriculum. While the process is lengthy, the steps are easy to follow if proper guidance is provided.
Let the students be enthusiastic about their newfound music player. After all, not everyone can become this independent!
Electricity, Magnetism, Sound Engineering
With stem in the classroom and the availability of an extensive middle school stem curriculum, it becomes practical, feasible, and engaging for students and adults alike to participate in such activities. It is a known fact that practical knowledge exceeds theoretical knowledge in many ways. So, become a child with the children and let them learn the theory in their practical, hands-on, MESSY, way!
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A provider of STEM-robotics equipment and training for young women and teachers in underserved communities around the globe, the Community Bots is the brainchild of Jack Cooley, a science teacher with a 25-year success record across grades 3-12.
For Parkland Magnet MS’ teachers, CoderZ offers up real-world applications that help students actually see how what they’re learning is applicable in the real world—even though it’s only in a computer simulation.
With the help of a DOE grant, Parkside school is now using CoderZ, an innovative online learning environment where kids learn how to program real and virtual robots using a 3D robotics simulation.
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