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15 Best STEM Project Ideas for Middle School

Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects are essential to a child’s education. These subjects help students prepare for the workforce, where STEM professions are growing faster than any other field. Oftentimes, classroom lesson plans only include math and science. This leaves students with a knowledge gap in technology and engineering. As educators, our goal should be to touch on these four core subjects, leading students to passions and confidence in these areas. 

25 Best STEM Projects for Middle School Students

One way to get students excited about STEM is by incorporating engaging STEM activities into curricula. This creates a positive association with STEM and gives them the confidence they need to continue taking STEM courses throughout their education. In this article, STEM Sports® provides 15 of the best STEM projects to incorporate with middle school students.

Backyard Weather Station

Explanation: Students will gain a deeper understanding of the weather system by acting as a meteorologist. After building their own backyard weather station, students will predict weather patterns and fill out their worksheet/tracker to compare with classmates and their teacher. 

Materials Needed: 

Weather Tool #1: Wind Vane

  • Wind Vane Worksheet
  • Cardstock
  • Pencil with eraser
  • Pencils and markers
  • Straight pen
  • Scissors
  • A small piece of modeling clay
  • Hot glue
  • Plastic straw
  • Compass
  • A piece of cardboard

Weather Tool #2: Barometer

Weather Tool #3: Thermometer

Weather Tool #4: Rain Gauge

  • Rain Gauge Worksheet
  • Wide glass
  • Masking tape
  • Straight, thin jar (a graduated cylinder works best)
  • Water
  • Ruler

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Students will describe weather patterns in wind, rain, and temperature.
  2. Students will create predictions of the weather based on cloud patterns and previously collected data.

To implement this lesson with your students, click here

Egg Drop Experiment

Explanation: Students act as engineers when creating a casing to protect their egg. This introduces the Engineering Design Process (EDP): ask, imagine, plan, prototype, test, and improve. This method is commonly used by engineering professionals when working through complex problems.  

Materials Needed:

  • Egg (Pro tip: For less mess, use a hard-boiled egg)
  • Container (e.g. cardboard box, plastic container, etc)
  • Balloons
  • Rubber bands
  • Wooden sticks 
  • Straws
  • Paper
  • Bubble Wrap 
  • Tape 
  • Scissors 

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Students will better understand gravity, force, and mass.
  2. Using the EDP, students will compare their casings and determine which was the most effective and why. 

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

See the Effects of an Oil Spill

Explanation: The oil spill experiment teaches students why oil and water do not mix and what impact oil has on the environment. As an extension, students can work to clean up the oil spill, teaching them about real-world problems. 

Materials Needed:

  • Clear plastic container
  • Tray 
  • Vegetable Oil 
  • Spoon 
  • Water
  • Cotton Wool and Buds
  • Sponge
  • Paper Towels 

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Students will learn about density and why certain materials do not mix.
  2. Students will learn about global warming and the effect that pollution has on the environment. 

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

Build a Toothpick Bridge

Explanation: Using glue and toothpicks, students work independently to create a bridge. After everyone is finished, they look at other students’ bridges and see how they could have made their own sturdier and more usable. 

Materials Needed:

  • Glue 
  • Toothpicks 

Learning Objective: 

  1. Students will improve their engineering skills by using the Engineering Design Process (EDP). 
    1. Students learn that it is okay to fail and it is important to try again.

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

Create a Water Filter

Explanation: Students build their own water filtration system to learn more about the water cycle. By the end of the lesson, students have a firmer understanding of what is done to the water they drink every day.

Materials Needed:

  • Plastic soda or juice bottle
  • Vase or tall drinking glass
  • Gravel or small stones
  • Clean Sand
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Cotton balls, small cloth or coffee filter
  • Gardening dirt
  • Water
  • Scissors or knife

Learning Objective: 

  1. Students will learn about the water cycle and how the earth naturally filters water vs filtering done by humans. 

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

Grow a Plant by Watering it With Different Liquids

Explanation: As a group, the class will water four plants (all the same type) with different liquids to see how it affects growth over time.

Materials Needed: 

  • Four (4) plants – teacher’s choice!
  • Sprite or another soda type
  • Water 
  • Gatorade or Powerade 
  • Coffee 

Learning Objective: 

  1. Students will learn about molecules of different liquids and how it impacts plant growth.

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

Determine the Best Way to Melt Ice

Explanation: Using different elements, students will see what makes ice melt the fastest. 

Materials Needed:

  • 4 ice cubes (per student or class depending on lesson approach)
  • Sugar
  • Salt 
  • Water
  • Water boiler or kettle 

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Students will learn to write a hypothesis before starting the experiment. 
  2. Students will learn how different elements impact the melting speed of ice. This introduces them to chemical reactions. 

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

Make a Fire Snake

Explanation: Using three simple materials, students see a chemical reaction that turns into a “fire snake”. Since this lesson involves fire, educators should help facilitate and make sure students are taking proper safety precautions. 

Materials Needed:

  • Lighter fluid 
  • Lighter or matches 
  • Sugar 
  • Fire extinguisher

Learning Objective: 

  1. Students will explore chemical reactions to understand the impact this reaction can have on an element’s original form. 

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

Create an Alka Seltzer Powered Lava Lamp

Explanation: Students learn about density and chemical reactions while making their own at home lava lamp. The reaction and material separation mixed with the Alka Seltzer tablet creates a visually stimulating and exciting end result for students. 

Materials Needed:

  • Vegetable Oil 
  • Water 
  • Alka Seltzer Tablets 
  • Food Coloring 

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Students will learn about the density of liquids and why some materials will not mix.
  2. Students will see the impact of chemical reactions using the Alka Seltzer tablets. 

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

Make your Own Harmonica

Explanation: This fun STEAM activity turns students into engineers who can modify their harmonica to create different sounds and pitches. 

Materials Needed:

  • Two large craft sticks (at least six inches long)
  • One wide rubber band (#64 size works well)
  • One plastic drinking straw
  • Two small rubber bands
  • A ruler
  • Scissors
  • A piece of paper
  • A pen or pencil

Learning Objective: 

  1. Students will engage in the EDP to repeat these steps until they create a functioning catapult. 

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

Create a Model of Our Solar System

Explanation: Students learn about our solar system through this hands-on science project that they can take home and show to family and friends. 

Materials Needed (per student):

  • Nine styrofoam balls of varying sizes 
  • One pipe cleaner
  • Wooden sticks
  • Black marker
  • Paint and paintbrushes
  • Floral foam block

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Students will draw conclusions about the planet’s placement, size, and orbit based on their model solar system. 
  2. Students will be introduced to astronomy and the real life application of studying this subject. 

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

Build Bath Bombs

Explanation: This is a great project to do during Mother’s Day and can be used for kids to give a gift to a mother or mother figure in their life! Students use their science skills and imagination to create a bath bomb that will fizz once it is dropped in water. 

Materials Needed:

  • 1 cup baking soda 
  • 1/2 cup citric acid 
  • 1/2 cup Epsom salt
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 tbsp. water
  • 2 tsp. essential oil (lavender, eucalyptus, rose, orange, and lemongrass are popular for the bath)
  • 2 tbsp. oil (jojoba, sweet almond, coconut, olive, or even baby oil)
  • A few drops of food coloring.
  • A mold of your choice, such as regular or mini-muffin tins, candy pans, or round plastic molds specifically for bath bombs

Learning Objective: 

  1. Students will learn how combining certain ingredients can change their form (solid, liquid, gas) and create a chemical reaction when added to water. 

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

Lemon Powered Electricity

Explanation: Students create an electrical circuit using wires and a lemon. They will experiment to see how many lemons are needed to light up the bulbs. 

Materials Needed:

  • Lemons
  • Copper plates
  • Zinc plates
  • Alligator clips with wires (2 per cell, so minimum 8 if you are creating a 4 cell battery)
  • LED light bulbs
  • Multimeter
  • Knife

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Students will learn about electrical currency and the need for a complete, closed circuit.
  2. Students will better understand conductors and what can and cannot be used. 

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

Do it Yourself Marble Runs

Explanation: Students work together to create a track that will allow marbles to move across the classroom, the more curves and turns, the better. This allows them to exercise their engineering, problem solving, and collaboration skills.

Materials Needed:

  • Paper
  • Tape 
  • Glue 
  • Wooden craft sticks 
  • Marbles 

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Students will learn about motion and gravity. 
  2. Students will practice using the EDP to create a usable track through trial and error.  

To implement this lesson with your students, click here.

STEM Football

Explanation: Students work through eight (8) lessons that use real-world football examples to facilitate STEM learning. 

Materials Needed:

  • None! All STEM Sports® kits are turnkey and easy to implement in the classroom, during after school programs, at summer camps, or at home. 

Learn More About STEM Football 

Learn more about Middle School STEM with STEM Sports®

If you are interested in learning more about how to implement STEM at the middle school level, read the following blogs:

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