STEM Challenges to Try With Ages 6+

STEM Challenges with ink and beakers

STEM education is wildly popular for good reason. It combines science, technology, engineering, and math to connect concepts and introduce your little one to the world around them. This kind of education focuses on integrated learning that emphasizes practical applications of theory, and prompts students to find solutions for existing real-world problems, often through project-based learning.

Through STEM, kids get to engage their thinking by connecting different subjects and using them to problem solve. STEM also encourages children to take advantage of the resources they see around them. This results in fun and creative projects they can do almost anywhere. 

Here are some ideas for STEM challenges you can try out for your kids six and older - in the comfort of your own home!

Candle Experiment

@inspired_little_learners has an easy experiment (with adult supervision) that will ignite your child’s curiosity. You’ll need: a candle, a clear glass container, water, a dish with sides and food coloring. 

Simply place the water in the dish with sides, place a candle in the water (she used a little Play-Doh at the base to keep it upright), light the candle before adding a jar over it. Ask your child what their hypothesis is as they wait to see what happens. 

@inspired_little_learners explains the science in her Instagram post

She suggests extending the experiment with different types of candles or varying neck widths of glass jars to observe different outcomes.

Life-Size Building Blocks with Cardboard Boxes

Life size building blocks with cardboard boxes

Cardboard boxes, scissors, tape, and a stapler are the materials and tools your little one will need to engineer a box building at home! Kids love forts, hideouts, and castles - so they can have fun creating a structure of their own while honing their STEM skills. To start, deconstruct cardboard boxes, and then pair them back together to create a building securing the sides with tape or staples. Add on as many boxes as you like to increase the height and strength of your structure. Help your little engineer out by giving them ideas on how to balance the weight of the building or make the structure more secure with different reinforcements. Soon, you’ll have a mini skyscraper right in your living room!

Magnet Powered Car Experiment

Magnet-powered car experiment

Try out this quick and fascinating activity to introduce your child to the concept of magnetic forces. To start, tape a small magnet bar onto the top of a toy car, then grab another magnet. Hold the free magnet above the car and watch as it either repels or attracts it, pulling the car closer to the magnet or pushing it away. Try building a fun pathway for the car to travel using paper towel or toilet paper tubes. You can also get a friend involved and race the magnet powered cars to see who wins the!

Hydraulic Launcher

Skillmatics Buildables: Hydraulic Launcher

If you want to go an extra step to get your kid into STEM projects, then our Skillmatics Buildables Hydraulic Launcher is a unique, exciting project to do just that! After your child constructs the launcher, let them practice hitting the included targets using the hydraulic force of the launcher. In doing so, they’ll learn about scissor mechanisms and folding supports, hydraulics, and projectile motion. They’ll also get to practice using the problem-solving skills necessary to build something from start to finish.

Build the Pyramid

Paper cup pyramid

If you want your child to build fine motor skills and coordination, all you need are paper cups. Prompt your little ones to build a tower as high as possible and make sure that the pyramid doesn’t topple. Once kids begin to come up with their own ideas and designs, you’ll find them using the cups in new and creative ways. You can even nudge your children, if they show interest, to try and create a doorway at the front. Such projects are a great opportunity for children to discover and express their creativity. Once they’re familiar with the basics of this activity, you can also engage them with limiters like using minimal cups or building a tower as tall as their own height. 

DIY Parachutes

DIY parachute

Looking for a high flying activity to introduce your little one to aerodynamics and gravity? All you need for this experiment is disposable cups, a plastic garbage bag, a string (or some tightly twisted yarn), a holepuncher, scissors, and a tape measure or yardstick. Punch four holes at the rim of the paper cup at an equal distance. Now, cut one plastic kitchen garbage bag into a 14-inch square along with four 14-inch lengths of string. Using the string, tie the cut bag to a different hole in the cup, making sure that the tail ends of the sack are equal to prevent a lopsided parachute. Now all you have to do is launch this parachute from a height and see your efforts take flight! 

Spin Art Station

Skillmatics Buildables Spin Art Station

Use centrifugal force to make a great work of art! Building our Skillmatics Buildables  is a fun way for kids eight and older to  practice various scientific principles like mechanical advantage, interlocking gears, and pattern making. A unique feature of this art station machine is that it can be built, disassembled, and built again. This feature helps children to come up with multiple artworks and designs for the station, leading to endless masterpieces.

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