15 Superb STEM Building Challenges for Kids
These STEM Building Challenges for Kids are great for building skills in Math, Technology, and Engineering, & they’re super fun for all age groups!
The word STEM has been around for quite a while, and it’s being adopted into more schools across the world, especially in developing countries. Most of us have a rough idea about what STEM is, but it’s one of those things we’re afraid to ask about, wondering what others will think. Don’t worry – we’re here to clear your doubts today!
What is STEM?
STEM is an abbreviation of ‘Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. It is an educational approach that combines the teaching of all these subjects through activities. A more recent version is STEAM, which also includes art as an important component of educational development.
You’re probably wondering what the big deal is since we’ve had all these subjects at school for generations now. However, that’s different from STEM; STEM doesn’t teach these subjects separately, it creates an integrated learning approach combining all these concepts together.
That’s not all, STEM isn’t about reading textbooks or rote learning; it is all about learning through doing and seeing how these concepts apply in everyday lives.
What are the Benefits of STEM?
Here are some of the benefits of STEM learning for children:
- Encourages children to gather information and make their own inferences
- Helps kids put their knowledge into practice through activities
- Encourages natural scientific curiosity
- Improves logical reasoning and problem-solving skills
- Shows kids how scientific concepts connect to events in our daily life
- When done in collaboration with other kids, STEM inculcates skills like teamwork & communication
- Encourages more children to pursue higher studies or careers in STEM fields
Is there a National STEM Day?
National STEM Day is celebrated every year on Nov. 8 to encourage kids to explore their interests in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
Now that you know what STEM is, it’s time to put that learning into action – staying true to the spirit of STEM! Here are some amazing STEM-building challenges for kids of all ages, which can be done with things lying around the house.
15 Superb STEM Building Challenges for Kids
1. Build the Tallest Tower Challenge
Right from the time they’re babies, children start building towers with stacking cups or building blocks. As they grow older, make it a little more challenging by asking them how high a tower they can build with pencils. Get the free printable for this activity from Elementary Island Blog.
2. Animal Homes STEM Challenge
If you’ve got some toy animals lying around, bring them to the table and ask your kids to build a home for these poor homeless creatures – but there’s a catch! Tell them they can only use one or two different materials, and let’s see what they do! Get more instructions over at Teaching Ideas.
3. Gumdrop Bridge STEM Challenge
The next time you find a gumball machine, get a bag full, so that you can come home and try out STEM building challenges like this one from Little Bins for Little Hands! Build a bridge and eat a gumdrop or two while you work!
4. Button STEM Activity Challenge
Can you build a structure with buttons? It seems a bit strange, but when you add play dough to the mix, you realize that the possibilities are endless! The Educator’s Spin on It shows us how to have fun with these two materials and learn a few lessons along the way.
5. The Elevator Challenge
Everyone rides elevators, but few of us know how they work – something that can be remedied with STEM building challenges! For more details on building an elevator, check out Teachers are Terrific.
6. Marshmallow Engineering STEAM Building Challenge
We love STEM building challenges that give us multiple opportunities to build structures of various shapes. Take a clue from Creative Family Fun and see what you can do with marshmallows and toothpicks.
7. Kindergarten Bridge Building STEM Challenge
Did you think that STEM building challenges are only for high schoolers? Well, think again! Even kids as young as 3 can get involved STEM, as this simple project from How We Learn shows. Extra points for including dinosaurs!
8. Life Size Newspaper Fort
You’ve seen kids build forts out of pillows and blankets, but can you build one out of newspaper? According to Modern Parents Messy Kids, turns out that you can, and a sturdy one at that too!
9. Paper Building Blocks
The most common building blocks kids come across are ones made of wood or plastic, but did you know that you can make your own blocks out of paper? Well, Babble Dabble Do shows us that it can be done, and it makes for a fun addition to this list of STEM building challenges!
10. Craft Sticks and Clothespins Tower
One thing STEM building challenges show us is how the strength of seemingly weak objects increases manifold when combined in the right form and manner! For example, consider this project from Frugal Fun 4 Boys and Girls where you can build a tower using clothes pegs and craft sticks.
11. Shadow Towers STEM Challenge
Now this is a STEM challenge that teaches many different concepts in one! No Time for Flash Cards shows us how to teach kids about shadows, using a simple flashlight, Lego bricks and some sticky tape.
12. Paper Cup Building Challenge
When you think of building a tower out of paper cups, you may think of piling them one on top of the other. That is certainly one way, but when you add craft sticks, you get a much more complex and interesting structure, as shown in Teaching Ideas!
13. Da Vinci Bridge with Pencils
The da Vinci bridge was created by artist Leonardo da Vinci, and it is a genius invention that features a bridge that is held together by it’s own weight without the need of connections. iGame Mom shows us how to create our own bridges with pencils, and it is sure to be a hit with kids.
14. STEM Playdough Building Challenge
Play dough is something that offers kids a wonderful sensory experience, but it can also help when it comes to STEM building challenges like this one from Hands on Teaching Ideas! Use craft gems or similar objects to show how you can create structures of various shapes and heights.
15. Strictly No Elephants STEM Challenge
Kind Little Explorers brings us a STEM challenge based on the book, ‘Strictly No Elephants’. While the book itself teaches us some important lessons about interpersonal relationships, it can also be use to learn some STEM in the process!
You’ll find that these STEM building challenges are appropriate for a variety of age groups, and even young kids will enjoy building even if they don’t know the exact scientific concept they’re working with. With Skyscraper Appreciation Day on 10th August, we think these projects will be the perfect source of ideas to build your very own super high skyscraper!
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