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Easy Stem Activities for 4th-Grade Students

After having obtained a degree in biochemistry, Leah works for a small biotechnology company and enjoys writing about science.

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Fourth-Grade Science and Math Activities

Participating in science and math with hands-on projects makes learning fun and engaging. Low-cost materials and easy-to-follow directions are included for four fourth grade level projects: a miniature lightsaber, a firefly that really lights up, a game to learn about the scientific method, and a simple geometry game that uses toilet paper to discover perimeter and area.

Miniature Light Saber Project

This miniature light saber consists of a simple LED and blue plastic straw. The battery is on the back of the card stock, with the LED and straw taped to the front of the card stock. A simple print of a light saber handle finishes the look!

This miniature light saber consists of a simple LED and blue plastic straw. The battery is on the back of the card stock, with the LED and straw taped to the front of the card stock. A simple print of a light saber handle finishes the look!

Miniature Lightsabers to Explore Electricity

Miniature lightsabers are a fun way to explore electricity. By wiring a small LED to a 3V button cell battery and placing the LED within a colorful plastic straw, students will have an exciting way to display the “force” of electricity!

Materials:

  • Plastic straws
  • 3V Button cell battery
  • LED lights

Method:

  1. Hand out a 3V button cell battery to each student. Have the students peel off the sealing sticker to allow oxygen to activate the battery.
  2. Hand out an LED to each student. Bulk packs of LED lights are available online. Each LED has a “long” wire and a “short” wire. The long wire is the positive side and the short wire is the negative side.
  3. Tell the children to place one leg on each side of the button cell battery. Ask them to notice if the LED lights up or not.
  4. Explain the flow of electrons. Tell the children the long (positive) wire needs to go on the positive side of the battery and the short (negative) wire needs to go on the negative side of the battery for the electrons to flow and light up the LED.
  5. Once all of the children have successfully made their LED light up, hand out electrical tape to secure the LED wires in place on the battery.
  6. Place a colorful section of plastic straw over the LED. Place the “miniature light saber” onto a piece of cardstock and tape the straw with lit-up LED into place. The LED will remain lit until the battery dies. If the children wish, they may replace the battery after this time and their “miniature light saber” will work again.
Allow children to experiment with the LEDs and batteries. They will soon discover the LED must be oriented on the battery correctly to allow the electrons to flow and for the light to shine!

Allow children to experiment with the LEDs and batteries. They will soon discover the LED must be oriented on the battery correctly to allow the electrons to flow and for the light to shine!

Easy Light-Up Firefly Project

A paper firefly that really glows is a simple way to explore electricity.

A paper firefly that really glows is a simple way to explore electricity.

LED Firefly: A Second Project to Explore Electricity

Another way to explore electricity is to make fireflies that really light up!

Materials:

  • LED lights
  • Button cell battery
  • Black and yellow paper
  • Glue sticks and/or tacky glue
  • Googly eyes
  • Electrical tape

Method:

  1. Hand out an LED to each student. Bulk packs of LED lights are available online. Each LED has a “long” wire and a “short” wire. The long wire is the positive side and the short wire is the negative side.
  2. Tell the children to place one leg on each side of the button cell battery. Ask them to notice if the LED lights up or not.
  3. Explain the flow of electrons. Tell the children the long (positive) wire needs to go on the positive side of the battery and the short (negative) wire needs to go on the negative side of the battery for the electrons to flow and light up the LED.
  4. Once all of the children have successfully made their LED light up, hand out electrical tape to secure the LED wires in place on the battery.
  5. Hand out black paper. Have the children cut out a 1” circle for the firefly’s head. Cut out a 2” circle and cut this circle in half to form the wings.
  6. Hand out yellow paper. Have the children cut out two 2” circles of yellow paper.
  7. Place the LED and battery (while it is lit up) in between the two circles of yellow paper. Use tacky glue or a glue stick to seal the edges of the yellow circles. This will become the firefly’s abdomen.
  8. Glue the lit-up body to the small black circle and add googly eyes.
  9. Glue the wings onto the body. The firefly is complete!
If small boxes are difficult to find, brown paper bags may also be used to conceal items for the Scientific Method game. Paper bags allow students to use their sense of touch, which may make guessing the objects easier.

If small boxes are difficult to find, brown paper bags may also be used to conceal items for the Scientific Method game. Paper bags allow students to use their sense of touch, which may make guessing the objects easier.

Scientific Method Game

The scientific method is best explored using a hands-on game that allows kids to discover the process of testing their hypothesis. This simple game requires few supplies and is an exciting activity that will require approximately 30 minutes to complete.

Materials:

  • Small boxes
  • Small objects to place inside the boxes
  • Paper to record findings
  • Scale
  • Magnet

Method:

  1. Divide the class into small groups of 3-4 students. Each group will get one box to investigate.
  2. Place four small objects into each box prior to class and seal each box. The children are not allowed to open the box to see what is inside. Sample items could include a jingle bell, a paper clip, a cotton ball, an eraser, a button, a metal snap, and more. Save one set of all possible items as a display for what might be within their box.
  3. Start the activity by telling the children they will be given a box with four items inside. We cannot see these items, and so we have a question: What is inside my box? Show them a sample of items that might be included in their boxes.
  4. Have the children write down a list of guesses as to what their objects might be before they touch or investigate their boxes. This is their initial hypothesis.
  5. Hand out the boxes and instruct the children they may listen to their boxes and shake their boxes, but may not open their boxes. They can revise their hypothesis about what is inside their box.
  6. Allow the children to use other tools to experiment and analyze what might be inside their boxes. Investigational tools could include a magnet and a balance. If using a balance, one side should contain an empty box with an assortment of possible objects. The other side should have the student’s sealed box – if the items are a match for what is within their box, both sides should balance. A digital scale may also be employed.
  7. Once the children are done experimenting and analyzing, they should write down their data and their final hypothesis.
  8. One by one, each group will share their final hypothesis and then open their box to see if their hypothesis is correct.
  9. Discuss why some objects were difficult to identify within the sealed box and what other tools might have helped investigate the question. Discuss which tools were the most helpful in obtaining accurate results.
Have the students compare the items within their box to their predictions. Discuss the difficulties of determining some objects within the box and what tools might have been helpful for experimentation.

Have the students compare the items within their box to their predictions. Discuss the difficulties of determining some objects within the box and what tools might have been helpful for experimentation.

Teach Geometry With Toilet Paper

Have children map out shapes to create the greatest perimeter and area using toilet paper. Giggles—and learning—will most certainly take place!

Have children map out shapes to create the greatest perimeter and area using toilet paper. Giggles—and learning—will most certainly take place!

Toilet Paper Geometry Math Activity

Discover area and perimeter by using toilet paper to map out different shapes! This is a hands-on activity to make understanding geometry fun and engaging for fourth-grade students.

Materials:

  • Toilet paper
  • Meter stick
  • Pencil
  • Paper

Method:

  1. Break the children into groups of 2-3 students. Have each child record their brand of toilet paper, and their guess for the total perimeter and area they will be able to create with a single roll. Have the children compare the brands of toilet paper they have. Do some rolls have more sheets of toilet paper than other rolls?
  2. Give each group a roll of toilet paper, and ask them to make shapes with the largest perimeter and area. They may break the toilet paper roll into strips, but each strip must touch another strip of toilet paper.
  3. When they have made their shapes and have used up their entire roll of toilet paper, each group should measure the perimeter and area using a meter stick and record their results.
  4. Share the results with the class and determine if the group’s initial guess was accurate!
Have the students record their predictions for the length and area of their toilet paper shapes. When they have completed creating their shapes and measuring the perimeter and area, have the children compare their predictions to the final results!

Have the students record their predictions for the length and area of their toilet paper shapes. When they have completed creating their shapes and measuring the perimeter and area, have the children compare their predictions to the final results!

Watch This Fourth-Grade Class Learn Math With Toilet Paper!

© 2018 Leah Lefler

Comments

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on July 18, 2018:

I remember my most engaging teachers well, Gerry. Keeping the lessons relevant and interesting is very important! I had a sixth grade science teacher who filled up a bowl of water, then went around and poured some oil on the top of the water. This was just after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and she wanted us to try to get the oil "out of" the water. We tried several different techniques and realized it was very difficult to clean up an oil spill. What a wonderful way to make an environmental issue in the news relevant to young kids! Hands-on learning is really the best way to retain information!

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on July 18, 2018:

Learning through hands-on experiences definitely helps most children learn better than through worksheets! I agree completely, Peggy - I frequently use hands-on projects in the local Maker Camp I run to help foster a love of math and science.

Gerry Glenn Jones from Somerville, Tennessee on July 18, 2018:

That's wonderful information for teachers. I for one, believe the best way to teach is to keep your class interested in the subject matter, and that's what your article explains. I had some boring teachers in school; some that I hardly remember, but I certainly remember the ones that kept us interested. Great article!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 18, 2018:

These all sound like fun projects for kids and educational at the same time. They are likely to remember the things they learned in such a manner.