STEM @ Home

The STEM Center is committed to providing science, technology, engineering, and math activities to learners in southern Illinois whether you can reach us or not! Our STEM @ Home series is written for K-12 students in the St. Louis Metro East area, but these links and activities can be used by anyone who wants to learn. Each week we have a particular theme with activity options for different age groups, as well as multimedia resources to facilitate the type of learning that engages students. If you want to contribute a picture to our series or send questions to our educators, you can post to our Facebook page.

You can also connect with us on Instagram @stem.siue and on Twitter @siuestem

STEM @ Home activities are adapted from research-based curricula, so you can be sure you’re providing high quality STEM education for your family that is also fun and engaging. Designed to be done at home, materials needed for these activities are things that you likely have in your home already. You and your child can do each week’s lessons as independent activities, or they can be done throughout the week as continuous learning for an ongoing project. All of the activities need someone to help guide or get your child started, often children can work on the activities on their own without direct supervision. These activities are similar to cooking recipes; the activity may be an hour, but only 20 minutes might be “active” cooking time. As with all great learning, the majority of the effort and time should be on the student, not you, the teacher.

In 2020, the STEM Center developed 40 weeks of at home science activities for parents and teachers. This year, we are revising these activities and reintroducing them. If there is a topic you are interested in, let us know and we can let you know when we will feature that topic. Or, we might add it to our list of new topics to explore!

This week’s activities celebrate the seasons by helping kids explore changing weather patterns! Set up your own personal at-home weather monitoring station and prepare to have an everyday learning activity while you social distance and learn more about the world.

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!

Temperature and Solar Stills: In this activity, students learn to track weather and outdoor temperatures. They’ll use this knowledge to learn about precipitation, condensation, and build a passive water purification system.

Under Pressure: In this activity, students learn about air pressure and how it affects the weather. Kids will make their own barometer, track air pressure data, and then forecast the weather by both reading weather charts and using their barometer. Kids also learn how clouds are formed and make clouds.

Measuring the Wind: In this activity, students build their own weathervane and a tool to measure wind speed, called an anemometer. Students also explore engineering design skills and add to their home weather monitoring station.

This week’s STEM @ Home activities explore the wonders of eggs! Using eggs and household items, learn about diffusion, chemical concentrations, engineering, crystalline structures, and bioplastics! After what feels like an eternity at home, spice up those eggs sitting in your fridge and learn along the way.

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!

Egg Shell Experimenting: In this activity, kids use eggshells to learn about how foods can affect your teeth. After emptying an egg of its contents without breaking it, kids test the strength of the eggshell, then use egg shells to grow crystals from cleaning supplies.

Protect Your Eggs: In this activity, kids develop ways to protect hard boiled eggs. Using items found around the kitchen, kids will design and build engineered devices to protect their eggs for an “egg drop.” Alternatively, they can build a bioplastic helmet to protect their eggs when they roll them down a ramp. After putting their engineered designs to the test, kids learn where their egg cracked by dyeing them.

Bioplastic Helmet for your Egg: In this activity, students will learn how to build a bioplastic helmet that they can use to protect their eggs. Students will then test out the effectiveness of that helmet when they roll their egg, with their bioplastic helmet, down a ramp. After putting their helmets to the test, students learn where their egg cracked by dyeing them.

This week’s activities explore backyard ecology! Learn about the biological community of plants and animals living all around you while staying at home. These activities place students in the shoes of naturalists and botanists as they observe, record, draw, and investigate the plants, animals, and fungi living all around them. Take part in citizen science with the iNaturalist app and start an ongoing game of real world Pokemon Go as you collect all the living things you share your ecosystem with!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!

The Backyard Naturalist: In this activity, kids train their eyes to see nature’s details. Kids draw the details of the plants and animals that they see around them just as Charles Darwin did. After drawing plants and animals as a whole, kids dissect plants and/or flowers to get a detailed look at the inner workings and complex mechanisms of plants.

Backyard Bioblitz: In this activity, families explore the biological community around their homes, either from their yard or indoors. Every day we see plants and animals all around us, often without even noticing them. Observing the first robin of the year or a surprise lily can be exciting, but many other species play important roles in our ecosystems. Using identification resources and a citizen science app, track the community of plants and animals all around you!

This week, on April 22, we celebrate the 50th annual Earth Day! Earth Day is a unified response to environmental crises in the world, and this years theme is “Climate Action”. To commemorate Earth Day and Climate Action, this week’s activities explore the wonders of Earth and what you can do to help protect and sustain our environment!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!

From Trash To Soil: In this activity, learn how to build a worm composting bin. These compost bins can be constructed with mostly cheap supplies around the house with minimal tools, and they do a great job of created high quality compost relatively quickly. After building the bin, go on a hunt to find food appropriate to feed your worms.

Food Webs: Food webs are diagrams that show what organisms in an ecosystem eat. This shows the flow of energy, starting with plants then to the plant-eaters and finally predators. In this activity, you will create your own food web that reflects what’s going on in your backyard.

Biodiversity Barriers: Biodiversity is an important part of the global ecosystem but threats like habitat destruction, fragmentation, and edge effects reduce populations of sensitive species. In this activity you will create a model of a habitat that borders areas of human activity and figure out how to reduce human impacts.

It’s not hard to see how important computer coding is, but they can be intimidating if you’ve never tried any coding. It might seem like the sort of thing that only experts can do but with a little help you can get started writing computer codes today! It’s just a different way of writing the ideas you already have so join us in learning the basics of coding using fun items you have around your house.

Make a Meme: Have you ever seen a funny photo with a caption on it that really resonated with you? This is a meme – an image created to express a point of view or generate a reaction out of the viewer. The key to an image becoming a meme as opposed to just an image is the ability of the meme to go viral – that is, to spread digitally across users and platforms. In this activity you will design a meme using pseudocode based on Java, one of many computer languages.

Lego Coding: In this activity, use any LEGO set to tie in concepts of code design and pique student’s interest, creativity, and use computational thinking. Each child has five minutes to create a figure for a video game. This character can be unique to each child. After creating their character, pass out the code block list. If you have children who are visually impaired, shape can be used instead of color. Each block has an action or task associated with it. Give the children 5 minutes to create a program that their character can execute. After creating the program, children can demonstrate to their parent or caregiver. If time, have them exchange codes and try someone else’s program on their character.

Card Sorting – Think Like a Computer: When you ask Google or another search engine a question, you are given items back in a sorted list. Google determines which item is most likely the answer you are looking for, although there are ways those answers can be assigned values based on the user and the search. In this activity you are the search engine and you are limited to serial processing – that is, processing based on one decision at a time. The challenge for this activity is to identify a procedure (or algorithm) to efficiently sort a suit of cards from lowest to highest value.

This week we’re going to space! Well, not really, but we are learning all about the science of space. It’s a big place and it might be hard to get to, but after this week’s activities you’ll be a little more prepared when the events of Star Wars become reality. Of course, that’s a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away so we’ll also have to figure out time travel as well as space travel. One thing at a time!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!

Paper Rockets: Learners will construct paper rockets from a pattern to experiment with thrust. They will then measure the distance the rocket traveled, recorded that distance, and calculate averages. For those who like to compete, the persons with the farthest launch and the best average distance will be rewarded.

Solar System Model: “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.” This quote from Douglas Adams really sums up the first important thing to learn about the solar system. In this activity, learners will see how vast our solar system is by constructing a scale model of the orbits in a long hallway or across their yard.

Lunar Phases Snacktivity: If you look at the moon daily, you will notice that the view of the moon changes. The changes are called “moon phases” and have been observed and recorded by humans for as long as we have been making calendars. When you complete this activity, you will have your own edible lunar calendar!

Learning about Genetics

This week’s activities explore the fascinating study of inherited traits that affect us all, Genetics. If you thought you already knew everything about your family members by staying at home with them for weeks on end, guess again. After this week’s activities, you will know each other on a genetic level!

Online Videos:Use these links to educate and entertain!

Create a Creature: Animals have a set of characteristics that helps it survive and succeed in an environment. This set of characteristics is called adaptations and include traits like body parts, body coverings, and behaviors. In this activity, you will use some of your favorite snacks to create a creature with adaptations that helps it thrive and pass along its genetic code to the next generation in one of the environments described.

Genetics with Rebops: In this activity, kids learn about the relationship between genes and inherited traits. Kids learn how genetic information is passed from one generation to the next by creating pretend creatures called Rebops.

Genetics Week – DNA: In this activity, kids first learn about how complicated information can be encoded using binary code and then the four DNA bases and use them to send and receive coded messages using DNA. They then extract DNA from cells in a form that they can see. Finally, explore the prediction of genetic traits using Punnett Squares in the final activity.

These days, many of us are spending more time in our kitchens cooking. Did you know that many of the things we do to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner involve chemistry? This week’s activities are designed to teach students more about the chemistry we encounter every day in the kitchen and elsewhere around the home. From acids and bases to dissolving solutions, kids can learn about chemistry just using everyday items in and around the kitchen.

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Which Will Rust? In this activity, kids will learn the chemical change that takes place when iron unites with oxygen to form iron oxide or rust. After making predictions for various household items, the student will determine that a steel nail (which contains iron) will rust more rapidly compared to other household metal objects.

Will It Dissolve? In this experiment, kids will discover that some substances dissolve in water and some do not. They’ll make predictions about what type of common cooking ingredients dissolve in water and how the temperature of the water impacts the amount of ingredient that can dissolve and the rate at which it dissolves.

Quick Bread Chemistry! In this activity, kids investigate how chemical leavening agents work by examining a quick bread recipe and experimenting with the quick bread leavening ingredients. Quick breads provide a very relevant application of acid-base chemistry to the production of food, and this is demonstrated by “baking” a quick bread using a lidded, nonstick skillet, and a hotplate or stove.

Everyone you knew, know, and will know lives on Earth: our home. One of the reasons we are staying home these days is to protect the people we know. But how do we protect the home we all share? In this week’s activities students will open their eyes and minds to observe a small area of our world; find out how they might reduce, reuse, and recycle our trash; and use experiments to find ways to keep soil from contaminating the waterways. These activities will help kids understand sustainability and how they might make a difference in preserving our world.

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Micro-Habitat Study! Kids and their parents will take a close look at nature by examining what they can see within a selected area of the ground, both living and non-living.

Rethink Trash! In this activity, kids will investigate ways they can reduce, reuse, and recycle trash that their family generates while making dinner throughout the course of a week. Much of the trash we generate can be reduced, reused, and recycled after we identify and quantify the types of items we throw away.

Rip Rap: Controlling Run Off! In this experiment, kids will design their own landscape and erosion control to try and contain the most topsoil and prevent it from entering waterways.  If soil enters the waterways at a large volume it not only washes away habitat, but it also creates turbid and cloudy water for animals living downstream. One of the most common forms of erosion control is rip rap, which is large rocks set on the shoreline of lakes, rivers, and streams.

They’re everywhere! Insects are our neighbors just about everywhere on Earth and they’re pretty interesting neighbors. This week we’ll be looking at what makes an insect and what sort of lives they live. If you’ve ever wanted to practice being a bug or wanted to go on a safari in your backyard, then this is your chance!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Insect Senses – Insects view their world differently than we do, in part because of their unique sensory system.  In the following activity your child will pretend to be a bee or similar insect that uses antennae and compound eyes!

Make Your Own Insect – Insects come in all shapes and sizes but they share a number of body structures. Students will learn these features and design an insect of their very own.

Observing Insects – Insects are an extremely common type of animal on the planet but they often go unnoticed. Students will take some time to appreciate insects and see what makes them so special, learning about how insects function.

This week we’re taking a look at an approach to science topics rather than a specific topic. The theme this week is STEAM: Science, Technology, Art, Engineering, and Math.  Artistic expression is a powerful way to engage students in science. The activities we have today let you draw, paint, and tell stories while learning science concepts. From outer space to wild habitats and sidewalk art to composing music, we hope you have fun with our STEAM week!


Make an Alien – Animals have adaptations that allow them to succeed in their environment and get enough food to survive. Using some creativity and artistic skills, students will create an alien world and then invent creatures to fill it!

Design for Diversity – Kids explore what happens to plants and animals when habitats become fragmented: a process called habitat fragmentation. They will investigate possible solutions of habitat fragmentation and then design and build models that connect habitats and increase survival rates of species.

Exploding chalk paint – What’s more fun than decorating your walkways with chalk? Creating masterpieces and then making them fizz and foam, of course! In this activity you will use some basic kitchen items to create a chalk paint. For added chemistry fun, spray with a mild acid solution (like vinegar or citric acid) to create a fizzy reaction.

This week for STEM @ Home, we are taking a closer look at archaeology. Archaeologists are scientists who study how people in the past lived. Though many people might think archaeologists study dinosaurs, they actually don’t. Paleontologists study dinosaurs; archaeologists study people. You may also wonder what activities you can do with your kids to learn about people of the past without going to an archaeological site. Well, all the activities y’all dig into this week can be done in doors with everyday artifacts around your home to help get your kids thinking like an archaeologist!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


At Home Excavation Unit: Why do archaeologists dig, or excavate, in squares? What can an archaeologist learn when testing an archaeological site? In this activity students learn how archaeologists sample an archaeological site and use the Pythagorean Theorem. And, if you are interested in learning more about how to set up an excavation unit, check out this video by STEM Center graduate assistant, Clark Sturdevant.

Sandwich Stratigraphy: Stratigraphy is the science of layers – in the case of archaeology, scientists determine which artifacts are older or younger based on their position in the layers of dirt at an archaeological site. This fun “snack-tivity” is a great demonstration of how archaeologists study the layers of an archaeological site to determine how the site was formed and what people living there in the past did and when.

Everyday Artifacts: Archaeologists study objects made by people who lived in the past. Archaeologists call these objects artifacts. By studying artifacts, archaeologists are able to make interpretations about how people in the past lived and what these people did. In this activity, kids will explore objects around their homes, made by people, to make an interpretation about how their families live.

This week we are learning about STEM careers. Do you want to be an architect? A biologist? A computer programmer? An astronaut? These are examples of STEM-based careers. Science, engineering, education, medical, and technology careers require the skills learned through STEM. The activities this week have students explore what it is like to be a cartographer creating a digital map; an engineer designing a bridge; and a nutritionist planning a healthy, colorful, and tasty diet!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Be a Digital Mapper! Digital mappers are people who use maps with data to study an area. Many people use digital maps daily from finding directions online to looking at population maps or even just seeing which parts of the Earth are land and which are water! In this activity, students will learn this process and make their own digital maps on paper.

Be an Engineer! Engineers often work to construct huge things like buildings and bridges, but these are just the most noticeable things engineers work on. The concepts of engineering can be applied to anything big and small, and they can work with any material! In this activity, students will build bridges out of paper and see that, with engineering, they can get them to hold some pretty impressive weights.

Be a Nutritionist! A nutritional counselor works with clients to achieve specific wellness goals. The overall foods we eat, our “diet”, greatly influences our physical and mental well-being. A balanced, nutrient-rich diet is a preventative form of medicine and nutritionists play a critical role in improving an individual’s health. Nutritionists study the chemical and biological properties of foods to understand how they react in our body. Using this knowledge, nutritionists can create a diet plan that incorporates healthy foods for a person to eat throughout the day.

Did you know that scientists need your help? Sometimes researchers collect so much data they can’t even begin to look it all by themselves. That’s where you come in! Researchers can use citizen science to have future scientists (like you!) comb through mountains of data that otherwise would be impossible to analyze. This week’s activities turn students into citizen scientists. Scientists need your help to discover antibiotic resistant tuberculosis strains, count and track beluga whales, and examine seasonal changes on Mars!


Here are links to three amazing citizen science projects:

Using Bash the Bug, you help scientists comb through photographs of tuberculosis samples to see which ones are unaffected by antibiotics. This is real research that scientists do, there are just too many photos for one research team!

With Beluga Bits you help researchers count whales visiting a sanctuary. Spot individual whales, look for family groups, and generally help biologists understand beluga migration while looking at photos of amazing whales! (Note for families: this project does involve looking for whales’ sexes based on visible organs).

Explore Mars with Planet Four! The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter provides NASA with many images in extreme detail showing the seasons at Mars’ south pole. You can help astronomers looking through the photos to identify seasonal changes and help them better understand Mars’ climate and atmosphere.

Nutrition, agriculture, and fermentation, oh my! This week for STEM @ Home, we are taking a look at the science behind the food we eat: how is it made, what’s in it, where does it grow, and more. Food is not merely a tasty part of life, food involves science. Perhaps you’ve wondered how a cake bakes, or why we have to shake salad dressings, or if honey really is bee vomit! Our at-home food activities can help answer those bizarre questions and get you doing science!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Make an Emulsion: An emulsion is a mixture of two liquids that don’t dissolve in each other, one just disperses into the other. The liquid that disperses is referred to as being in a dispersed phase while the other is referred to as being in the continuous phase. Emulsions are temporary unless you add an emulsifier. Emulsifiers are molecules that help liquids bind together. Some common emulsifiers found in food science are honey, egg yolks, and mustard.

No Knead Bread: In this activity, kids learn about the complex ecosystem and chemistry that leads to a baked loaf of bread. This recipe helps deliver a delicious loaf of bread without kneading, allowing even children to do most of the work to create their own bread.

Denaturing Egg Proteins: Egg whites cook fastest with heat, but that’s not the only way to cook an egg. In this activity, kids learn about the complex chemistry of proteins by studying how different methods of “cooking” eggs with heat and chemicals affect egg whites.

This week we’re talking all about geology! (Insert “This rocks!” pun here…) We’ll be looking at ways to make crystals, how to find and identify rocks around your community, and how to make rocks you can eat. Since geology is literally the study of the entire planet we can only cover a fraction of what this field includes but we hope it gets you excited!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Rice Krispie Rocks: Rock identification in geology involves examining rocks and following flow charts or detail. Does this rock have more of mineral A or more of mineral B? What shape are those pieces and how did they come together? Once you have a name, it can tell you a lot about how the rock came to be there, but identification can take practice and patience. Luckily in this activity you can identify rocks and get a sweet snack too!

Make a Candy Agate: Agates form when water enters the cavities of igneous rocks. The water leaves behind small grains of silica in layers around the inside walls of the cavities. Many agates you see are brightly colored by dye. Minerals deposited by groundwater form the natural color variation of agates. Looking at a natural agate slice is looking at the history of the rock!

Geologic Time: Saying things like “dinosaurs lived for 186 million years” or “the Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago” involves numbers that humans really have no context for. These values are so unbelievably big that they can be hard to imagine. This activity creates a physical model that can drive home exactly how huge a scale we’re talking about when we discuss geologic time.

It’s easy to observe electricity in nature, particularly in the rolling thunderstorms the summer brings. Electricity and energy are present in less visible ways as well – in our bodies and in the circuits that control our lights. With this week’s STEM @ Home we are experimenting (safely) with electricity! Join us as we create circuits from recycled materials and our own drawings, and up your slime game with a charged goo that’s fun to play with!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Recycled Circuits – Create a light up house or picture using materials you might find in your recycling bin! With help from an adult you can create a circuit using old holiday lights, tape, and AA batteries. Turn trash into treasure and learn a little about electric circuits!

Graphene Circuits – Electricity is something that most of us use and see daily, but it might seem like a mystery. Even more mysterious is how another everyday object, the graphite in pencils, can be used to create a circuit seemingly out of nothing! In this activity, students will draw circuits on a piece of paper.

Static experiment – Who doesn’t like a good slime to play with? This activity can help you charge up your slime play by using the power of static electricity to make your slime jump and dance. Just be careful to not slime your hair!

Dihydrogen monoxide? Sounds risky, are you sure at home activities using this chemical are safe? Well yes, of course there are! That’s H2O, more commonly referred to as water! This week for STEM @ Home, discover the chemical properties of water. These unique properties mean we can live! It also means fish do not become popsicles in the winter, massive trees can get water to reach their tallest leaves, and nutrients travel throughout our body. For such a simple molecule, made of just two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, there sure is a lot to learn about water. 

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Properties of Water – Water exhibits unique properties critical to life. These properties can be attributed to its polar nature and ability to form bonds. Throughout this activity you will see the various properties of water. Choose to do all three activities or select a few favorites!

Water Filtration – In this activity, kids learn how to make water safe and clean by making a water filter. The filter’s layers mimic those found in natural water cycles. This parallel both makes the filter work and helps kids understand how water is cleaned.

Saltwater Freezing and Boiling – Water is an amazing substance that regularly boils and freezes at temperatures that we can easily observe and recreate. However, saltwater has different properties than freshwater so adding salt to water changes how it behaves. Can you predict what will happen?

Things moving, stuff staying put, buildings standing tall or falling down… All of this is the work of forces.. This week we’ll be looking at different forces and how they affect the world around us. From launching catapults and going down water slides to spinning buckets and simple machines, knowing about forces and how they work is essential to understanding our world. Come with us as we look at pushes, pulls, and spinning forces!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Build a Catapult – This activity tests your physics skills! A catapult is a simple machine used by many different groups of people throughout history. It relies on Newton’s laws of motion. When you pull down on the lever arm, potential energy is stored up. Release the arm, and this potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. Gravity also pulls your projectile (a pom pom) back to the ground.

Centripetal Force – Why do you seem to get pushed against the car door when you take a sharp turn? Why don’t you fall out of a roller coaster when going upside down through a loop? The answer to both of these are centripetal force—a force that’s all around but often not well understood!

Magnetism – In this activity, kids learn about the Earth’s magnetic field and magnetizing objects by making a simple magnetic compass. They then explore the relationship between electricity and magnetism by making and testing small electromagnets.

Light is one of the first things babies are able to perceive, and it’s one of the most surprising and complex aspects of our universe! From the earliest writings of scientists, humans have wondered what light really is and how it works. This week, you can be part of that process with our activities and videos exploring light. Join us on this bright and exciting journey!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Making a Ripple Tank: In this activity, kids make a ripple tank that serves as a model to demonstrate light waves. This simple, interactive model makes wave properties visible for kids. These properties are shown with water waves, but the properties are similar for light waves.

Optical Illusions: Everyone loves a good cartoon. How do drawings become animated? Before animators used computers to code movement, illustrators created hand-drawn images that used persistence of vision or flicker fusion. Give these optical illusion activities a try and see if you can create a thaumatrope and a Newton Disc!

Solar-Powered Cooker: Our sun is a source of electromagnetic, radiant energy. This energy can be harnessed for many applications from photosynthesis to electricity to solar heating. In this activity, students learn about solar energy and design a cylindrical solar cooker to test, evaluate, and improve.

Patterns are all around us, especially in math and science. This week’s activities explore finding patterns, figuring out how the patterns work, and teaching kids of all ages the basics of functions. Functions are important to understand the world around us at every age and in every field, but learning how to understand the patterns at the core of functions is accessible for all ages.

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Pattern Games and I/O Machines: Below is a collection of games to play that help teach pattern recognition. After that, the basic steps of how a function works are covered with the “Input/Output” machine game. These are fun for all ages!

Pentominoes: Pentominoes are a set of shapes that can be rearranged like a puzzle with dozens of solutions. This low-cost, high-fun activity is great for entertaining while learning and for helping young students expand their ability to visually process and imagine solutions.

Functions and the Road Coloring Problem: This activity is adapted from the Algebra Project’s Road Coloring Curriculum that introduces middle and high school kids to the concept of “function.” This research-based experiential math curriculum, developed by SIUE’s Dr. Greg Budzban, leads students through a long researched problem in mathematics to develop their understanding of what functions are and how they work.

Prior to the pandemic, you likely experienced a hectic weekend shopping trip. Stores become “madhouses” with cars “packed like sardines” in the parking lots and the aisles “bustling” with shopping carts. Although dangerous in the midst of the pandemic, crowded places help us visualize density. Density measures the compactness of an object, or the amount of matter in a given space. Hundreds of people shopping within one mall or store create a dense, crowded environment in the same way that a brick is much denser than a pile of feathers. A pound of bricks and a pound of feathers weigh the same, but the bricks take up much less space than the feathers because bricks are denser; there are more molecules of brick than feathers in a given space. This week, you will learn how to measure density and discover some cool applications and examples of density in our world. 

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Manifest Density: Density is dependent on the mass and volume of matter. This derived function describes an object’s compactness. Although a kilogram of bricks and a kilogram of feathers have the same mass, they take up much different volumes. Bricks are much denser than feathers. In this activity, students will learn how to measure density by calculating mass and volume.

Sink or Float: Garden Edition! There are amazing varieties of food in your garden or pantry. In this activity, students design an experiment, test variables, and come up with conclusions on what sinks and what floats.

Water Acrobatics: Water density depends on temperature and mixing cold and hot water together creates some interesting flipping. With some food coloring you can watch this happen and this demonstration shows just how waters of different temperatures behave when mixed together.

The distinct units of matter or compulsive liars? Atoms are teeny tiny particles and they make up everything in our universe. Scientists have been able to discover or create 118 different atoms thus far, which are represented in the periodic table of elements. Atoms, although tiny, are impressive displays of the forces of nature. Learn more about the periodic table, early understanding of atoms, and more with STEM @ Home this week!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


The Half-Life of Candy: Candy is always awesome, but what if it can be used to teach students about the half-life of radioactive elements? In the activity, you can use Skittles or M&M’s (or for a non-food option pennies) to simulate radioactive decay. Scientists use the rate of decay to determine how old organic materials are within a few hundred years.

The Periodic Table of Glucose: Many scientists helped make the periodic table. When they did this, they had no understanding of subatomic particles like protons, neutrons, and electrons. Even so, scientists made incredible predictions of the periodic table we use today. In this activity, students will think like Newlands, Mendeleev, and others as they sort “elements” in a periodic fashion.

Rutherford’s Pillow: The modern understanding of the atom with its small nucleus and cloud of electrons was supported by an early experiment by a group of scientists. It involved throwing subatomic particles at a very thin sheet of gold and noticing that the particles mostly flew through because of the empty space. Students can set up their own experiment at home to repeat this and have some fun too!

Chemical reactions occur all around us every single day, and some reactions even occur within us! This week, we take a closer look at chemical reactions. Learn about a chemical reaction that makes old pennies shine, a reaction to form a precipitate, and how to make both an endothermic and exothermic reaction. 

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Cleaning Pennies – One sign of a chemical change is a change in color. In this experiment, you’ll see a change in some everyday items. This experiment shows how chemistry exists everywhere and lets students try chemistry at home.

Cloudy with a Chance of Precipitate – Precipitates form in aqueous (in water) solutions when positively and negatively charged molecules, called ions, crystallize and form solids. These solids are insoluble in water: they do not dissolve well. In this activity, two soluble ionic compounds—sodium carbonate and magnesium sulfate—are combined in water. While the separate solutions appear clear, the combination of both results in a solid precipitate.

Cool Reactions, Hot Reactions – How do you know when a chemical reaction is taking place? One way is to look for a temperature change and there are two great examples in your kitchen and the laundry!

We have an attractive STEM @ Home for your students this week! This week’s activities involve magnetism. Students will observe how different media and viscosity affect magnetism, perform a tug of war between magnetism and the force of gravity, and improve upon their previous experiments in electromagnetism. You won’t be able to pull yourself away from STEM @ Home this week!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Magnetics vs. Viscosity – You likely observe magnets at work daily. Generally, these magnets are working in the ambient air. Can a magnet still work through water, milk, or viscous (thick) liquids? That is to say, do these liquids interfere with magnetic fields? In this activity, the student will design an experiment that can answer that question! The student will begin with a hypothesis, design and experiment, collect data, and draw a conclusion.

Magnets vs. Gravity – Students will learn about magnetism and about its strength relative to another fundamental force that we feel all the time: gravity. Through experimenting, they can see how magnetism and gravity interact and better understand their world.

Stronger Electromagnets – Building off the earlier experiment of making your own electromagnets, here students see how to make stronger magnets with different design choices.

What do bridges, towers, and musical instruments have in common? They are all items that people designed, tested out, and then went back to the drawing board to redesign. This week, we’ll explore engineering design by having you build and redesign a paper bridge, a tower, and musical instruments. 

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Paper Bridges – We’re used to seeing bridges of stone or metal but can you make a bridge out of something flimsy like paper? How much could that bridge actually hold? If you build it right, a paper bridge can hold quite a lot of weight! Students will explore the engineering design process as they find the most effective way to use paper in bridge-building.

Design To Avoid Disaster – In this activity from the STEM Center’s MOSAIC series, students create a tower that can hold a decorative “moon” at the top. This tower needs to stand at least 1.5 feet high and withstand a heavy wind so students will work with the materials available to them to meet those challenges!

Musical Instruments – Test out your engineering design skills and create some musical instruments. Create maracas, tambourines, kazoos, and then change the design to get the most consistent sound.

Waves are more than just things you can find at the beach. Lots of materials move in waves from water and light to sound and traffic! Waves have amplitude and patterns, repeating minimum and maximum values that show you how the material is moving. They also interact with interference, refraction, re, and other phenomena that are different from most objects in the world. Check out the activities and videos this week to learn more!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Wave Reflection and Absorption – Waves are all around us in the form of light waves, radio waves, and sound waves to name a few. One wave that many of us are familiar with is energy waves that travel through water. In this activity, we are going to take a look at how waves behave by examining waves as they travel through water.

Crazy Refraction – Refraction is just as important as reflection, but it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves! Try out this demo and experiments to learn more about refraction and discover some of its effects firsthand.

Wine Glass Resonance – In another STEM @ Home activity, you had the opportunity to make musical
instruments out of recycled material. For this activity, you can become the maestro of the
kitchen using wine glasses and water. Learn a little about sound waves and resonance as you
try and match frequency and create music!

How do scientists know all these cool facts and how things work? They use the scientific method. Observation, experimentation, formulating and testing hypotheses, that is the scientific method! This week for STEM @ Home, students use the scientific method by thinking critically, testing their skills of observation, and experimenting with different techniques to improve a design! Have fun and remember the scientific method is a powerful tool to empower you with knowledge!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Correlation NOT Causation: The amount of mozzarella cheese consumed in the United States is correlated to the number of Civil Engineering degrees awarded. Does that mean that the more string cheese you eat the more likely it is you will want a career building bridges and roads? Try this activity to learn more about correlation and causation!

What Does a Candle Look Like: Students will have chance to test their observation skills by drawing a lit candle. Observation is an important skill in science and needs to be practiced like any other skill.

Far Flying Variables: In this experiment students create a paper airplane and test to see what variables impact the distance their airplane can fly. Students control the type of paper, method of creation of the airplane, amount of force used in deployment, and the size of the airplane to create the farthest flying airplane.

Each day we use our five senses—sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing—to understand the world around us. But, how much do you know about your senses? Try out this week’s STEM @ Home activities to learn more about how you sense the world!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Where Do You Stand?: An Activity on Proprioception – Proprioception, often described as our “sixth sense”, describes our body’s sense of spatial awareness. Proprioceptors are specialized nerve cells within our musculoskeletal system (including joints, muscles, and tendons) that allow us to understand our body’s position in space. For instance, upon closing your eyes, you can still touch your nose with the tip of your finger because your body is able to sense the location of your nose and finger without seeing the body parts.

Sense of Touch Activities – Our skin is not only the largest protective organ we have, it is also the largest sensory organ that helps us keep safe and healthy. The sensory signals are received by receptors in the skin and translated through nerve cells to the brain. In this experiment, you can test a friend or parent’s sensory reception and sensitivity!

Sorting Smells – Human brains are hardwired to identify smells, helping us find food and detect danger. You smell many different things all day long and it’s probably easy for you to know what you’re smelling, but have you ever put it to the test?

The Sun is an essential part of our lives. Without the sun, the Earth wouldn’t have an orbit, the Moon couldn’t orbit the Earth, and there wouldn’t be life on Earth! But, how much do you know about the Sun? Learn more about the Sun’s light and how the Earth orbits the Sun in this week’s sunny STEM @ Home. 

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Cereal Box Spectroscopes – Much like the human fingerprint, which is unique to the individual, every source of light has a distinct and identifiable spectrum that is observable. For example, when looking at a rainbow in the sky, sunlight is being broken down into a continuous spectrum: the visible light spectrum. If a light source is not white light, however, the spectra will only consist of small pieces of visible light. An emission spectrum displays the light given off by a particular compound or atom. In fact, scientists concluded that the sun’s light is the result of hydrogen fusion, to produce helium gas, because of helium’s unique emission spectrum. In this activity, you can view the emission spectra of various household light sources by creating your own spectroscope.

Penumbras, Umbra, and Shadows – We cannot talk about the sun without talking about shadows! In this activity you will use two balls and a flashlight to create a penumbra, umbra, and simulate types of eclipses.

Build a Sunspot Viewer – The Sun might look constant but its surface is a constant churn of storms and swirling energy. It’s impossible to safely view with just your eyes but a simple device can show you the darker spots on the Sun’s surface where energy is flowing.

We talk about averages and probabilities all the time. We ask ourselves questions like “How well did I do on that test compared to the average?” or “What are the odds my team will win the game?” Although we talk about averages and probabilities a lot, do you know how averages and probabilities work. How they are calculated, and what factors contribute to uncertainty in these numbers? This week, we have some above average activities to help you explore averages and probabilities!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Dice Bell Curve – What you get depends on what you put in! This activity looks at averages and probability to see how the results of a die roll in your favorite board game is affected by how many dice you’re using.

Sampling – An average is a single number that represents a list of numbers or measurements. But, how do we know the average of extremely long lists of numbers, like the height of all 12 year old kids in the United States? In a case like this, we would need to sample the population. But, how do we know how to sample? When is our sample large enough to represent the population? Learn the importance of sampling in this activity.

The Average Birthday – People use “average” to mean something in the middle of a group. There are actually three types of averages that scientists use, though, and knowing which one will help the most is an important skill!

What has three vertices and three edges and happens to be a simple, but mighty shape? Well, the answer is triangles! Triangles are a basic shape in geometry, but if you look around, you’ll probably see triangles all around you. From the height and shadow of a tree to the supports of massive bridges, triangles are everywhere! In this week’s STEM @ Home, learn more about the amazing properties of these three-sided shapes.

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Measuring Height with Triangles – Have you ever wanted to measure the height of something that is very tall? This is a handy trick involving triangles that will make this daunting task into a simple and easy activity!

Observation Squares – In this activity students will learn how set up their own 1 by 1 meter square using triangles and the Pythagorean Theorem. Then, they will try their hand at making observations like a scientist!

3D Triangle Art – Candy corn may not be everyone’s favorite candy, but it is certainly shaped like the most loved shape in geometry! Use your noodle (or pretzel, or licorice, or candy cane) and experiment with making 3D sculptures using triangles! This activity will have you daring to build the largest triangle-based creation you can while ensuring stability and durability—at east until you eat it!

Understanding animals is an interesting aspect of science. There are millions of animal species living on Earth today, not to mention the millions that lived on Earth hundreds of thousands and even millions of years ago. Many of these animals live in extreme conditions and do amazing things. This week we explore different types of animals!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


Bird Beaks – Birds compete for seeds and often have specialized beaks to get their favored foods. Darwin’s famous trip to the Galapagos Islands included a study of native finches and their specialized beaks to show how populations on different islands developed from common ancestors. This was essential to learning about how evolution shapes species. In this activity, students can learn the same lesson through foods and tools found in the kitchen.

Classifying Critters – Sometimes it is hard to organize your toys so they are easy to find and not a huge mess all over your room! Try these activities and you will be able to sort and classify your toys just like scientists do for living things!

Handy Hands – People have hands. These amazing structures with five digits allow us to open jars, scratch our noses, and create amazing art. There aren’t many other mammals who are able to do all these things. But unlike other mammals, we aren’t able to walk on all four of our limbs for a long period of time, we aren’t very good at digging with our hands, and we can’t use portions of our hands to help us fly or glide. In this activity, you will explore variation in the many types of hands mammals have!

Scientists use models to understand how systems, processes, and events might play out in the real world. Scientists might develop models to simplify real-life situations and gain greater control over selected variables. Other times, scientists may develop models to add complexity and simulate how systems change if variables change. Either way, models are handy tools that you can try using yourself!

Online Videos: Use these links to educate and entertain!


3D Modeling – In this activity, students will explore the steps necessary to model an object. 3D models are used during the engineering design process to communicate the design, test the design, and improve the design before constructing full-scale objects. Models can be created by 3D printers, by hand, or digitally. Students will create a model out of any household object (or otherwise!) using clay.

Edible Atoms – Splitting the atom is easy when you create it from candy and toothpicks! For this activity students can create a model of an atom and then model a molecule like water or serotonin.

Modeling Erosion – Erosion is a problem for many people, from yards washing away to roads being undermined by eroding slopes. Controlling erosion is an important step for engineers and home owners alike, and in this activity, we’ll see how some of those measures at work.

We are also producing nature walk videos with things to find during your trips outside. Check out these short videos as easy prompts of things to watch out for during your walks.

The STEM Center also has other resources that you could enjoy with your child:

  • Our Curriculum hosts M.A.S.H. kits that can be done as independent activities. These kits are separated by age group, and the topics focus on:
    • Bodily senses
    • Chemistry of colors
    • Dinosaurs and fossils
    • Exploring aquatic environments
    • Gardening
    • Static Electricity
  • Our teaching with primary sources page has sample curriculum that parents could use to teach their children about the following subjects:
    • The Dust Bowl
    • Maps
    • STEM Notebooks

The STEM Center staff also approved resources from other sources that you could do with your child:

  • Codecademy is free for the rest of the year, and a great tool to learn how to code. Some of the coding languages taught through Codecademy are Python, JavaScript, HTML, and CMD Line. Users are able to choose what they want to learn, learn by doing, receive instant feedback, and put learning into practice.
  • is another free coding resource, leading the efforts to get Computer Science in lower education classrooms. Students in grades K-12 can use for self-led projects at home.
  • Khan Academy is providing daily schedules for children ages 2-18. Students can utilize Khan Academy to study Math, by subject and grade; Science & Engineering, Arts & Humanities, Computing, Economics & Finance, Test Prep, and more. There’s also a Khan Kids app to teach students ages 2-7 about Math, Reading, and Social skills, and emotional learning.
  • SciStarter is a resource that provides Citizen Science projects that students can do at home. With over 1300 projects, you and your child can search their website to find any range of Citizen Science project to get started on.
  • The Library of Congress provides access to millions of historical documents, photos, videos, and audio recordings. Access primary source items from history and learn about various topics and events from artifact collections.