I am a parent, futurist, and technologist. My career has spanned the birth of personal computers to the rise of cloud computing.
The following six activities are suitable for helping children learn initial technology skills and personal skills. Technology is a great tool to use for teaching and helping children. They see their mom, dad, and other family members using technology all the time, so they are naturally curious.
All of these activities are ones I have done with my children, and I also did some of them with students when I was a classroom teacher. These could be used as summer or weekend activities or for homeschooling lessons. I was inspired to create this list when schools were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. When things are stressful, sometimes the best thing we can do is teach others about the world around us! Plus, you can build some great family memories!
Six Fun and Educational STEM/STEAM Activity Ideas
- Make a Home Planetarium
- Learn the Science Behind Cooking
- Figure out How to Block a Radio Signal
- Test the Range of Bluetooth
- Troubleshoot an Electronics Problem
- Build a Model Rocket
1. Make a Home Planetarium
Supply List: Projector, free-star mapping software/app
If you have a projector at home, this next activity is a lot of fun. First, go to the online store for the device that you plan to connect to your projector (phone, tablet, computer, etc.) and download one of the many free star-mapping packages available. Plug your device into the projector, and now you can watch the night sky and learn about the universe at home.
I love doing this; it works well as a home planetarium. Over time, if the kids stay interested, you can look into getting a telescope so that they can experience the world beyond the atmosphere of our planet!
2. Learn the Science Behind Cooking
Supply List: Whatever you typically cook with in your kitchen
Have the kids help you make a meal. Measuring ingredients teaches math skills, and the cooking process gives you a chance to explain things like how stoves work (heat transfers to the pan) and how boiling water works. At the same time, you'll be arming your kids with a skill they will need for the rest of their lives.
The gift of knowing how to cook is one that will benefit your entire house. I taught my kids how to cook at an early age. My wife and I were the primary cooks in the house until our daughter turned 13. Now, my wife and I only have to cook when we want to cook!
3. Figure out How to Block a Radio Signal
Supply List: Set of radios (walkie-talkies)
Do you have a set of family radios or walkie-talkies at home? Here is a fun activity for the kids to take on. Hand them the radios, and ask them to figure out a way to block the radio signal without breaking the communications or taking the batteries out of the radios! Have them write down what works and what doesn't work when it comes to blocking the signal.
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You can try several variables with this. If your kids are struggling to find a solution, here are a few hints:
- Smother the radio in pillows.
- Wrap the radio in tin foil (carefully so that you can reuse the tin foil).
- Embed the radio in rice or something else like that.
- Or simply figure out how many walls it takes to block a radio signal!
4. Test the Range of Bluetooth
Supply List: Bluetooth device
Do you have a Bluetooth device? If you do, have some more radio signal fun. Have the kids listen to the Bluetooth speaker. Then have them move around the house and see where the speaker stops working. How far away can you get from the phone or tablet? What stops Bluetooth signals? (The hints are similar to the radio signal activity: How many walls does it take to block that Bluetooth signal? How many pillows?)
Bluetooth devices are something kids love to use. Learning the range of Bluetooth and how those connections work is an excellent skill for them to have later in life.
5. Troubleshoot an Electronics Problem
Supply List: Video game system or any other electronics system with cables
Here is another fun activity that takes a short amount of time and teaches a good life skill. Unplug a cable from the game system (or other system, like the TV) in your house. Don't choose the power cable; that makes the activity way too easy! Next, invite the kids to play video games (or watch TV). The system will not work. Walk them through how to troubleshoot problems and figure out what's wrong.
Introducing your children to how troubleshooting works is important for two reasons. First, those skills will help out later in school. Second, your kids will be troubleshooting things for the rest of their lives! If they know the necessary steps, they will do better when something doesn't work right.
6. Build a Model Rocket
Supply List: Hidden Figures (movie), model rocket kit or equivalent supplies
This is a more long-term idea: Build and launch a model rocket with your kids. You can make this into a fun STEM or even STEAM (add art) activity by watching the movie Hidden Figures first. That movie introduces the math required to launch a rocket.
You can then assemble the rocket and have the kids decorate the missile. They can draw pictures of what they think will happen. Finally, when you're able to go outside, you can take your rocket out and launch it!
You can make this activity as straightforward or as complex as you want to make it. There are some extensive higher-order math skills for model rockets. But I highly recommend starting with Hidden Figures. It allows you to introduce not only the mathematics of rocketry but also the topic of racial equality!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 DocAndersen
DocAndersen (author) from US on May 08, 2020:
i have told that to every single customer I have!
DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on May 07, 2020:
Interesting ideas. I must look out for the movie "hidden figures" and maybe people who do not like the idea of 5G will use your idea of "how many walls to block bluetooth", etc.