Back to School STEM Activities

Summer is coming to an end and students, parents, and educators are preparing to begin the new school year. Many students experience summer slump during the off months, especially in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The summer slump is a loss of knowledge from the previous school year that causes educators to have to repeat the curriculum before they can begin new lessons. One way educators can combat the summer slump is by preparing engaging STEM lessons for students starting as early as the first week of school. 

STEM literacy is an essential component of a successful curriculum planto help students prepare for higher education and their future careers. In this article, STEM Sports® provides you with various STEM activities you can incorporate with your students based on their grade level. 

STEM Activities for Kindergarten to Second Grade Students

  • The Pencil Tower Challenge

Supplies: Pencils 

The Task: Individually or in groups, students create a tower out of pencils. This can be turned into a friendly competition who can get the tallest tower without it falling over. 

The benefit: Students will learn more about engineering and will also work on their problem-solving skills. If their tower falls over, encourage them to rethink their design and figure out how to create a strong base that they can continue to build on top of. 

  • STEM Sports® Multi-Sport K-2 Kit: 

Supplies: STEM Sports® curricula are turnkey and do not require any additional supplies to implement.

The Task: The curriculum includes eight (8) modules covering various areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. This multi-sport option uses basketball, football, golf, and soccer to facilitate each lesson. 

The benefit: The K-2 curriculum is designed specifically for this age group. It aligns with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core State Standards (CCSS), K-12 Physical Education Standards, and keeps in mind the motor skill level of K-2 students.  

  • Bread in a Bag:

Supplies: 3 cups plain flour (divided), 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1.25oz Packet rapid rise yeast, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 cup of warm water, and 3 tablespoons olive oil.

The Task: For step-by-step instructions on how to implement with your students, go to Little Bins for Little Hands.  

The benefit: In an easy-to-understand way connected to a real-world example, students will learn about chemical reactions. Starting this understanding at a young age helps students to create a strong foundational understanding of science concepts, curiosity about the world around them, and confidence in their abilities. 

STEM Activities for Third to Fifth Grade Students

  • Paper Airplane Challenge:

Supplies: Construction paper, tape, and glue.

The Task: Each student will be given the supplies they need to build their own paper airplane. Once they are done, each student will throw their airplane, competing to see which flies the farthest. 

The benefit: This interactive group activity turns students into engineers who are working within the engineering design process (EDP). Based on how their plane does versus others, students begin to see which design is most effective. Following the activity, you can have a group discussion about the best design and why it was the most aerodynamic. 

  • Fire Snakes:

Supplies: Sand, baking soda, sugar, small bowl or plate (not plastic or paper), small cup, lighter fluid, measuring spoons, a bucket of water, and matches.

The Task: In small groups with adult supervision, students will combine sand and lighter fluid. Then, on top, students add 1 tbsp of baking soda and 4 tbsp of sugar in a small pile. After the setup is complete, an adult will use a match to light the sand/lighter fluid. The reaction will slowly take place, resulting in the fire snake created by a chemical reaction. 

The benefit: This introduces students to chemical reactions and can be a great addition to learning about the periodic table. 


  • STEM Sports® Football Kit:

Supplies: STEM Sports® curricula are turnkey and do not require any additional supplies to implement.

The Task: The curriculum includes eight (8) modules covering various areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. The lessons use football to give real-world examples of what students are learning in an interactive, hands-on environment. For example, in the Technilogical Advancements and Improved Quarterback Play lesson, students collect data and display it in a bar graph. Students then use a bar graph to make a claim

about the effectiveness of gloves.

The benefit: STEM Football® aligns with NGSS, CCSS, and K-12 Physical Education Standards. This makes the curriculum the perfect addition to a classroom, afterschool, or homeschool curriculum.

STEM Activities for Sixth to Eighth Grade Students

  • STEM Sports® Basketball:

Supplies: STEM Sports® curricula are turnkey and do not require any additional supplies to implement.

The Task: The curriculum includes eight (8) modules covering various areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. The lessons use basketball to get students to interact with STEM in a way that has proven increased engagement and retention. In the Velocity and Acceleration lesson, Students calculate the acceleration of a basketball by using data collected in a controlled experiment. Students then draw a diagram of a

basketball pass and label the forces acting on the ball.


The benefit: STEM Basketball® is a great way for educators to engage left and right brained learners. This hands-on approach allows sports lovers and STEM lovers to engage with the curriculum in a way that increases understanding, confidence, and interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.   

  • Baking Soda Bottle Rockets 

Supplies: Safety glasses, empty 2-liter soda bottle, 3 tbsps baking soda, 3 cups vinegar, measuring spoons, duct tape, 3 pencils, construction paper, cork, and paper towels.

The Task: Students will build their own bottle rocket using chemical reactions. Students have the ability to customize their rockets before finishing the project, introducing STEAM concepts! After everyone is done, host a launch party to allow students to see their rocket and other rockets launch.   

The benefit: This hands-on activity introduces chemical reactions and the EDP process to students. This is a great project to implement during field day or as an end-of-year send-off for sixth, seventh, or eighth-grade students.

STEM Curriculum with STEM Sports®

Looking for a more detailed STEM curriculum? Check out sports-related STEM curricula like STEM Baseball® or STEM Volleyball®.

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