23 Easy STEM Lessons for Elementary Students

Elementary education is a pivotal time in a child’s education journey. It is when students form preferences, gain confidence, and find a passion for learning. When children are exposed to subjects during early childhood education, they are more likely to feel comfortable continuing to take courses in that subject area. Early implementation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is key to student success in these complex subject areas. As early as kindergarten, educators can begin implementing STEM lessons with students that introduce key STEM concepts – setting a foundation for future lessons grounded in Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). 

In this article, you will explore 23 easy-to-implement STEM lessons educators and/or parents can facilitate with elementary-age students to spark curiosity in STEM.

Exploring Science Through Liquids

There are a variety of STEM activities that can be facilitated with students that use minimal ingredients – many of which can be found in the common household. Below is a list of liquid-based science activities to introduce students to STEM concepts:

  • Homemade Lava Lamp: Through the combination of oil, water, food coloring, and effervescent tablets (e.g. Alka-Seltzer Tablets), students learn about density and solubility. 
  • Dancing Raisins: In this experiment, students add raisins to a carbonated liquid. As they watch the raisins dance, they are learning about gas formation, density, buoyancy, and more. 
  • Pepper and Soap Surface Tension: In a bowl full of water, students will add soap and pepper. The soap and pepper will create a layer on the surface of the water, creating the opportunity for educators to talk about surface tension through a hands-on activity. 
  • Water Laying Experiment: In this experiment students will add 3-5 different liquids into one clear glass to explore the concept of density. This can be water, soap, oil, honey, or other liquids found around the classroom. As students watch each layer form, they can list in order which liquids are most to least dense.

Building Blocks of Engineering

Engineering is an interactive, hands-on area of STEM that uses knowledge from all areas – from technology to mathematics – to create and develop new, innovative ideas. As educators, engineering lessons are a great way to get students thinking critically about the world around them, presenting the opportunity to introduce the Engineering design process (EDP). Here are engaging activities to turn your students into engineers: 

  • Paper Bridge Challenge: In this activity, students will design their own bridge using only paper. This hands-on lesson introduces basic principles of engineering and allows students to use their imagination.
  • Marshmallow and Toothpick Towers: Students will use marshmallows and toothpicks to create a tower. Students will have to create a strong foundation in order to stop the tower from falling. Educators can encourage students to work with each other, learning what makes each of their tower designs unique and, in some cases, more structurally sound.
  • Egg Drop Contraption: In the egg drop experiment, students build a casing around their egg that is meant to absorb the impact of dropping their egg from a high level. Once all students have created their casing, each student will drop their egg from a predetermined height. Then, educators can ask these two questions: Did their egg survive the drop? If not, what would the student do differently next time to get a more successful result?
  • Create a Catapult: Using popsicle sticks, tape, and a plastic spoon, students will create their own catapult. To further introduce students to the EDP, educators can prompt students to evaluate their design and learn from their classmates. Then, after thinking critically about their design, give them more materials and allow them to create a new catapult. 

Numbers in Nature and Art

Math is all around us! There are real-world applications to the math lessons that help keep students engaged and better understand what they are learning matters. Below are activities for educators looking to find creative ways to introduce math into their curriculum:

  • Symmetry in Nature: Students will explore symmetry in nature by examining butterflies, pinecones, leaves, etc. By using a mirror, students will be able to review and check if the material they are looking at is fully symmetrical. 
  • Origami and Geometry: In this STEAM activity, students will create various types of origami. This activity uses their artistic abilities to introduce geometry concepts, such as angles and shapes. 
  • Math at the Mall: In this lesson, students apply math concepts like addition, subtraction, and percentage calculations to something they are all familiar with – shopping. This practical application helps them understand the importance and relevance of math in everyday activities like shopping and budgeting.
  • Division Through Sports: Rather than teaching division through traditional pen & paper methods, students will play basketball and use their division skills to calculate their field goal percentage. 

Beginner Coding and Robotics

Technology is a rapidly growing and changing industry. It is more important than ever to ensure students are fluent in these new technologies to prepare them for their future careers. Here are three (3) engaging technology lessons for elementary age students:

  • Block-Based Coding for Kids: Introduce your student to coding through easy to use online resources. These platforms teach the basics of algorithms and sequences, preparing students for more complex coding lessons.
  • Simple Robotics with Kits: Robotics kits are a great way to introduce students to a variety of coding and technology topics. Through these hands-on experiences, students will better understand code and how it can be used to manipulate the actions of the robot.
  • Interactive Storytelling with Code: Children create their own digital stories and/or games using basic code. Through this lesson, they will exercise their critical thinking skills and tap into their creative side. 

The Science of Sound

Creating cross-curricular learning opportunities for students has been proven to increase engagement and retention of lessons. Through music and sound, educators can introduce students to STEM lessons in a creative way. Below are activities that combine sound and science to get students excited about STEM learning.

  • DIY Musical Instruments: Using everyday household and classroom items, students will create their own musical instruments. This activity teaches lessons around sound production and vibration, while allowing students to exercise their engineering skills.
  • Sound Waves Exploration: Using tuning forks and water, students will see a visual representation of sound waves and vibrations. This easy-to-implement lesson pairs well with traditional lessons where students can see what they are learning in real-time, emphasizing learning objectives. 

Understanding Our Environment

The STEM learners of today are the STEM professionals of tomorrow. This fact emphasizes the importance of educating students about the environment and world around them. STEM has a major impact on the advancements society has and continues to make. Below are environmental-based STEM lessons to improve students’ STEM literacy and introduce them to the connections between STEM and the environment.

  • Classroom Recycling Project: In this activity, students are put into groups and are tasked with creating a recycling program. Throughout the lesson, they are learning about waste management and environmental conservation all while improving their collaboration and leadership skills. 
  • Mini Garden Creation: Planting and caring for a small garden teaches about ecosystems, plant biology, and the importance of nature. This is a fun, interactive lesson students can follow over the course of many months, giving them something to look forward to and watch grow. 
  • Local Wildlife Exploration: In this project, each student is assigned an animal that is local to the region. Then, over the course of many days, they are tasked with researching this animal and becoming an expert. In the end, they can present to their classmates, highlighting details about the animal and their ideal habitat. 

Astronomy for Beginners

Astronomy lessons open up students’ minds to the vastness of the universe. At the elementary level, students find this fascinating and the lessons promote their curiosity. In this section, we highlight astronomy lessons for beginners, setting a strong foundation for challenging lessons in the future.

  • Crafting Simple Constellations: In this activity, students create their constellations, learning about stars and storytelling in astronomy. This lesson should be done individually and then, after all students have completed their constellations, there is a larger group review to check for understanding and accuracy. 
  • Model Solar System: Building a scale model of the solar system helps students understand planetary positions and movements. This hands-on representation helps students to visualize the solar system and is beneficial for educators as they explain planet rotation and orientation.
  • Stargazing with Apps: Utilizing astronomy apps, students explore the night sky, identifying stars, planets, and constellations. This lesson combines science and technology lessons to improve student learning.

STEM through Sports

STEM Sports® is a K-8 education company that provides standards-aligned curricula. Each STEM Sports® lesson uses sports as a way to facilitate hands-on STEM lessons. If you are an educator looking to add structured, established STEM lessons into your curriculum map, click here to explore STEM Sports® curricula offerings.

Building a STEM Foundation

Engaging in STEM lessons early in education is key to student success in their education and future careers. By incorporating engaging STEM activities into the elementary curriculum, we create a strong educational foundation that promotes students to continue taking STEM courses and following their passions. Through the activities highlighted in this blog, educators can get their students engaged in STEM learning in the classroom today! 

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