3 Fun Summer STEAM Activities to Try With Your Kids
Summer is all about exploring, adventuring, and having fun. That makes it the perfect time to indulge in STEAM activities! So we’ve put together a few super-fun easy-prep STEAM projects for summer to help your kids make the most of their vacation.
Sail the high seas with a homemade miniature raft
The best thing about STEAM activities is that they let your kids choose how to tackle a challenge. And with raft building, anything goes! It’s also a great excuse to get your kids out in the fresh air with their friends to find out what makes a vessel float.
What you need
- Scrap paper and pencils
- Craft sticks
- Empty egg cartons
- Kitchen sponge
- Plasticine balls
- Plastic passengers (like small toys or figures)
- Paints and brushes for decoration
- Any other materials you can think of!
1) Gather as many materials as you can from around the house that might be useful for building your raft. You could even take a trip to your local dollar store to get some ideas!
2) With all the materials to spark their imaginations, get your kids to think about how they can build a seaworthy raft. What materials would work well together? What should be on top and what should be underneath? What different sizes, shapes, and features could they use? Encourage your kids to share ideas and work together, and draw up some plans on scrap paper.
3) Start building! Be on hand to help your kids if they’re not sure how to secure or balance their creations. And prompt them to explore their creativity by painting their rafts and designing flags.
4) Decide where to test your rafts. It’s more fun to take your kids to a local stream or pond. But if you don’t live near a natural water source, blow up an inflatable pool in your backyard or even use your bathtub.
5) The moment has arrived… put your rafts in the water to see if they float! If they do, keep adding plastic passengers to see how much weight the rafts can take. And if they sink, work with your kids to figure out why.
6) Ask your kids what worked and what didn’t, and get them to think about how they could change their designs and improve their rafts for next time. This could be adding corks underneath to give the rafts more lift, or adding plasticine balls to the corners to improve weight distribution. Or perhaps they need more tape or tighter knots to keep their raft from flooding.
7) Go back to step 2 and start over again!
The science behind stick rafts
When an object is in water, two forces act upon it: gravity (the object’s weight) and buoyancy (the upthrust of the water). For it to float, the buoyancy must be equal to or greater than the gravity weighing it down.
The trick here is density. The less dense your raft (that is, the further its mass and weight are spread out) the more the buoyant force will push it to the surface. That’s why a wide, flat object might float while a narrow, thick object might sink, even if they’re equally heavy.
Score a bullseye with a PVC bow
If your child has ever dreamed of becoming Robin Hood, now’s their chance. And by turning your arts and crafts into an archery competition, this STEAM activity will keep your family out in the sun all day long! It’s a great way for young kids to practice their gross motor skills, while older children get a fun lesson in the physics of motion.
What you need
- PVC piping (around 38 inches long and 0.6 inches in diameter)
- Strong string
- 3 bamboo canes (around 21.5 inches) for each bow
- Elastic bands
- Large sections of strong cardboard
- Paints and brushes
- A drill
- A small handsaw
1) Drill a straight hole through both ends of the PVC piping, around 1-2 inches from the top and bottom.
2) Tie the string through the first hole and knot it very tightly. Then, pull it taught and tie it through the other hole. The PVC piping should be bent into an arc.
3) Now you have your bow, it’s time to make your arrows. First, tightly fold a piece of felt into a tiny square. Then, put it on the tip of your bamboo cane and secure it with plenty of tape. This makes the tip of your arrows very soft, so if an accident happens, nobody gets hurt!
4) Cut some more felt into a small oval shape with your scissors. Put the tip of your arrow in the center, then fold the felt over it and add an elastic band to keep it in place.
5) At the other end of your arrow, cut a notch in the center of the wood using your saw. This helps the arrow fit into the bow string, making it much easier to pull back.
6) Personalize your arrows by wrapping some small strips of colored tape around the shafts. If you’re making more than one set of bows and arrows, give each set a different color. That way, there’ll be no arguing about whose arrows are whose!
7) Cut your cardboard into large circles. Then, paint concentric rings in different colors to make a target.
8) Put a small hole at either end of your target. Feed some string through the holes and use it to tie the target to a tree at your kids’ shoulder height.
9) Nock an arrow, take aim, and go for the bullseye! You can even give each ring on your target a score and see who can get the most points with their three shots.
The science behind archery
As you pull back the drawstring on your bow, the tension gives it potential energy. When you let go, the potential energy in the drawstring becomes kinetic energy in the arrow. The more potential energy the drawstring has, the faster and further your arrow will fly.
Grow a gorgeous garden with seed bombs
DIY seed bombs are a great way to beautify your garden while teaching kids about nature and gardening. Not only do you benefit from gorgeous flowers, but your kids get a fulfilling long-term project to keep them going all summer!
What you need
- Air-dry clay
- Seeds (ideally for plants that are self-sufficient and native to your area)
- Work gloves to keep your hands clean!
1) Divide your clay into small balls. Then, press them into flat circles around three inches in diameter.
2) Put a thin layer of compost to the middle of your clay.
3) Add some seeds and a few drops of water.
4) Roll your clay circles back into balls to make seed bombs. Take care to keep the compost and seeds in the center.
5) Coat the outside of each seed bomb in a thick layer of compost.
6) Leave them to dry.
7) Plant your seed bombs in your garden or in some flower pots. You can water them if you like, or let them grow by themselves.
8)I t might take a couple of weeks, but eventually you’ll see your seed bombs sprout and flower! For an extra activity, take a photo every day until your seeds bloom and make a fun time-lapse video to post online.
The science behind seed bombs
Seeds need water and nutrients from the soil to germinate. But sometimes, they’re blown away by the wind or eaten by animals before they get the chance.
By wrapping your seed in clay and giving them water and compost, you make sure they have plenty of time to grow. When they do, the sprouts will push through the clay and soil until they reach the surface. Then, they use the power of the sun to mature and bloom.
Enjoy more STEAM projects for summer with easy-to-use iSprowt kits
Once you’re done with these three awesome activities for summer, you kids are sure to be hungry for more. That’s why we’ve prepared a whole range of STEAM learning kits to keep your kids going for their whole vacation!
Our range of iSprowt kits is perfect for helping kids aged 5-11 explore chemistry, biology, and geography. Each one uses low-mess, eco-friendly materials, and can be set up in less than 10 minutes. Visit our online store today to find iSprowt kits and other fun STEAM activities and get ready for a whole summer of fun!