Table of Contents
- The Benefit of At Home STEM Learning
- Science & Technology STEM Activities
- Math STEM Activities
- Engineering Activities
- STEM with STEM Sports®
STEM learning is an essential part of a student’s education. This is especially important at the high school level when students have more flexibility in which courses they take and are preparing to decide what colleges to attend and careers to pursue. As educators, parents, and facilitators, we must ensure students have access to quality STEM education and are armed with the necessary tools to navigate this phase of their life and follow their passion.
The Benefit of At Home STEM Learning
Parents can assist their child’s education by facilitating STEM lessons outside the classroom. At home learning gives children a comfortable, welcoming environment to try new, challenging things. It also allows the freedom for them to explore topics that interest them – even if it is outside of the classroom curriculum. For example, if your child is interested in how data analysis is used in sports or how engineers test bridge strength, they can focus on activities that answer their questions on those topics.
This article is a compilation of nine (9) STEM activities for high school students that can be done at home to strengthen STEM literacy.
Science & Technology STEM Activities
Science and technology knowledge is an essential part of a student’s success in their education, daily life, and career. By implementing STEM activities focused on these subjects at home, students are able to strengthen their skills and find what interests them the most.
Potential & Kinetic Energy
- Rubber Bands (5 or more)
- A Ruler or Tape Measure
- A Piece of Paper
- Pen or Pencil
Directions: In this activity, children are tasked with testing how stretching rubber bands’ in different amounts impacts how far they will fly. Before starting, there needs to be a clear area, either inside or outside, where the rubber bands can fly without hitting any objects. This is called a controlled variable! Then, children will shoot five (or more) rubber bands starting with low stretch and increasing to the rubber bands’ furthest stretching point. After each shot, they should measure the distance the rubber band traveled and record it on their paper. After they have completed the experiment, pose questions to them about why there was a correlation between the stretch of the rubber band and the total distance traveled.
The STEM Takeaways: When the rubber band is stretched, it is loaded with potential energy. Once it is released, this energy becomes kinetic energy. Therefore, the more the rubber band is stretched, the further the kinetic energy will take it when it is in flight.
Activity Extension: Ask children what other applications they can think of in their daily life that have potential and kinetic energy.
Electric Bulb Experiment - Parent Supervision Recommended
- Mason Jar and Lid
- Nails (1-inch)
- 6-Volt Battery
- Insulated Copper Wire (3 feet or more)
- Picture Hanging Wire (iron)
- Electrical Wire
- Wire Cutters
Directions: Before creating electrical currents, children have to create their circuits. For a step-by-step guide on setup, visit 123Homeschool4Me. Once setup is complete, children are ready to complete the circuit and create their own electricity. By connecting the copper wires to the battery, they will see electricity flowing between their wires under the mason jar.
The STEM Takeaway: Electricity circuits are created by fully closed looks where electrons flow from a power source.
Activity Extension: Ask children if they know who discovered electricity and in what year this event took place.
Math STEM Activities
Mathematics is a subject children will use throughout their daily life. These core skills are critical to success and should be exercised often in children, regardless of where they are in their education journey.
Practicing Statistics Through Sports
- Basketball Hoop
- Excel Sheet or Printed Chart
Directions: Children are tasked with shooting 30 free throws and tracking in their chart whether it is a make or a miss. After they complete this activity, they will calculate fractions for makes and misses. These fractions can be turned into percentages to identify their accuracy when shooting free throws.
The STEM Takeaway: Children will strengthen their skills in fractions and percentages. When converting fractions to percentages, they will also be using long form division – another key math concept.
Activity Extension: If your child loves sports, have them connect their free throw percentage to players at their high school, collegiate athletes, and NBA players.
Geometry Introduction Lesson
- Playdough, Clay, or Marshmallows
Directions: Start by giving children a list of different shapes. Then task them with building each of these shapes using the toothpicks and playdough (or other items listed above). From there, they can look at which lines are parallel or perpendicular to each other. They can also look at the angles of each corner, noting if they are obtuse, acute, or right.
The STEM Takeaway: Children will learn about angles and the plane of lines.
Activity Extension: If your child has access to a protractor, they can chart their lines and calculate the slope for each shape.
Engineering skills are less commonly focused on in some classroom curriculum plans. That makes at home learning a great place for children to learn more about engineering and the role it plays in society. Through hands-on learning activities, core engineering skills can be taught to high school students.
Construct a Secure Bridge
- Popsicle Sticks
- Kite String
- Gram Weights
- Pen or Pencil
Directions: Using popsicle sticks, glue, and string, task children with building three different types of bridges. Allow the glue to dry before completing the rest of the engineering experiment. Once ready, have children go one by one through each bridge adding the gram weights until the bridge collapses. After each bridge, children should record the highest weight that was on the bridge prior to the collapse. After completing this with all three bridges, children will know which bridge had the strongest foundation.
The STEM Takeaway: In this lesson, children work within the Engineering Design Process (EDP) to find what build type created the strongest bridge. This process is a commonly used series of steps among engineers to optimize their building process to come up with new, innovative design ideas.
Activity Extension: If this activity is fun and interesting for your child, have them look into popular bridges around the world, focusing on what parts of the builds are similar and what variations they see.
Egg Drop Experiment
- Paper Cups
- Popsicle Sticks
- Construction Paper (Optional – This can be used for less cleanup)
Directions: In this engineering project, children will create a casing around eggs using the materials listed above. This should be done for at least three different eggs and each casing should have its own unique design. Once this is completed, lay down construction paper and have the children drop each egg casing from the same height. For all eggs that do not crack during this first phase, drop them again from a slightly higher height. Once there is only one remaining egg, the experiment is over and children can begin looking into why that design was the best and possible flaws with the other builds.
The STEM Takeaway: This lesson uses the EDP to help children better understand their designs and how this process is used by engineers to create structurally sound streets, buildings, bridges, and more! Children will also improve their understanding of energy conservation; The casings built during this lesson are used to absorb the force from hitting the ground from these high heights.
STEM with STEM Sports®
If you are interested in learning more about current STEM education trends, read these STEM Sports® blogs: