Staycation STEM Activities for Spring Break 2021

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Spring break in 2021 is shaping up to be a staycation for many families, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun! With these engaging activities, kids and parents can enjoy springtime with a STEM twist.

To get you and your family started, we've rounded up a variety of spring break STEM activities that are easy, educational, and inspiring! Choose from the different engaging activities at home, or head outdoors to show exciting and open-ended STEM fields can be. They'll discover fundamental skills and concepts that will stick with them long after spring break ends. How's that for a productive spring break?

1. Host a STEM Movie Marathon

Kick off the first night of spring break with a STEM movie marathon! Consider classics like Flubber, Back to the Future,  Hidden Figures or Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, or opt for something newer like Tomorrowland, Big Hero 6, The LEGO Movie, or Wreck it Ralph. These films cover everything from laboratory science and engineering to video game design and coding, so they are sure to set the tone for a week that's full of innovation, creativity, and adventure! Up your game by inviting the neighborhood kids and preparing STEM-themed snacks like these.

2. Build Your Own "Maker Station" at Home

Thanks to progressive toy companies like GoldieBlox, littleBits, Makey Makey, Roominate, Thinkfun, and many others, young boys and girls can expand their creative horizons and learn about engineering, circuitry, coding, and more in a fun, accessible way. This spring break, unleash your child's inner "Maker" by curating a collection of awesome tech toys. It's super easy to build your own "Maker Station" right at home.

3. Find a Virtual Spring Break Camp

You're probably familiar with the camp experience as it pertains to summer, but did you know there are virtual spring break camps, too? Sure, they're a little harder to find, and probably a little more difficult to align with your schedule, but it's worth the research. Just like summer camps, you can find a Spring Break experience that matches up with your students interest and needs.

4. Head to the Kitchen for a Science Experiment

The internet—specifically Pinterest—is overflowing with ideas for at-home, kid-friendly science experiments. The best part? Many of these experiments can be conducted using materials already found in your kitchen. Check out the following resources for some inspiration:

5. Embark on a Geology Scavenger Hunt

Looking for a simple but engaging way to spend an afternoon with your kids? Or how about celebrating Earthy Day from home?

Take a walk through your neighborhood or a nearby park and see how many different rock varieties you can spot, name, and classify. Snap photographs with your smartphone and take notes to keep track. Once you return home, visit geology.com/rocks/ to easily identify the rocks you discovered. This activity allows kids to get familiar with the local, natural landscape!

For added incentive, turn the activity into a friendly competition by outlining a series of prizes or rewards beforehand for a job well-done! (Here is a list of scavenger hunt clues for kids.)

6. Try an Online Tech Course

If your child is interested in learning to code, use Photoshop, or build a website from the comfort of home, there are a variety of powerful online STEM learning platforms.

Some are free and some require a subscription, so do a bit of research to determine what’s the best fit for your student. Get started with the free Code.org tutorials, or consider registering for Virtual Tech Camps or Online Private Lessons, our online learning platforms for kids and teens. 

7. Designate Time for Video Games

It's no secret that our Minecraft courses are among our most popular. But why all the hype? To start, educators around the world are touting the educational value of popular games, like Minecraft, that present limitless opportunity to explore, build, and problem-solve. With Minecraft, students can also create themes, storylines, mods, and new levels, discovering valuable coding concepts and game development skills along the way. Consider setting aside some time this spring break for your child to play Minecraft and experiment with story development, modding, and level design. It may very well open their eyes to a world of possibilities in STEM.

8. Experiment with Electrical Engineering

Products from littleBits and Arduino are perfect for fostering creativity and introducing kids and teens of all ages to electrical engineering. Kits from both companies start below $100 and provide hours of immersive fun and endless possibilities. Your child can create light-up projects, robots, and more, and kick-start a long-term interest in the ever-popular field of electrical engineering.

9. Enter a STEM Contest

For a focused spring break STEM project that lasts throughout the week, consider having your child enter a STEM contest. Browse the sampling of options below, or search the internet for additional possibilities.

10. Organize an Hour of Code Event

Thanks to Code.org, hosting an Hour of Code event in your own home this spring break is a cinch! Invite your child’s best friends, gather the neighborhood kids, and get programming! Code.org provides all the info, materials, and tutorials you need to get started right on their website. It’s fun for everyone involved!

11. Answer Kids' (endless) Questions

The ultimate cure to kids' boredom: answers to their stream of "why" questions! Mystery Science is a treasure trove of answers to questions like "why is the sky blue" and "how does hand sanitizer kill germs". Perfect for particularly curious minds, kids may find they have even more questions to investigate with science experiments.

12. Virtually visit an Aquarium or National Park

Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium, complete with Jelly Cam and accompanying STEM at home activity guides. For animals,  families can virtually visit the Smithsonian National Zoo and explore extension activities at home as well. And of course there's always the natural splendor of the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park; both sites offer educational enrichment activities.

13. Build a Bird Feeder

The littlest nature explorers will love this easy DIY birdfeeder activity. As a bonus, they will get to see the fruits of their labors literally flock to them! 

14. Code a LEGO Maze

Future engineers and programmers alike will love this activity. This code-a-maze activity offers the perfect hands-on introduction to basic coding concepts. A great way to create new knowledge is to support it with existing knowledge, and for many kids LEGO is exactly that kind of support. Coding can seem abstract at first, so it's a definite advantage to make tangible connections, especially for visual learners. 

15. Build Paper Planes with NASA

That's right: the ultimate source for flight expertise has a guide to building paper airplanes.  Kids will love competing to see whose plane flies the farthest through video or sibling competitions. 

16. Explore PBS STEM Challenges

There is no shortage of great ideas on this platform, and PBS Design Squad even offers a "Stuff Spinner", so kids can make something amazing with what's lying around the house. There's something for all ages, time-frames, and experience levels, and build options ranging from a confetti launcher to a hovercraft and more. 

17. Grow a home garden

Get growing! Plant herbs to learn about plants and nutrition and explore other STEM applications of everyday garden items. 

18. Blast off to outer space

The Challenger Center offers amazing ways to virtually explore space. Their website offers a number of cool STEM activities and ways to learn about what it's really like to be an astronaut. 

19. Film a stop-motion animated short

STEM and the arts combine as kids step into director's shoes to make an animated short. There's no doubt that creating a stop-motion animated film is time consuming, so why not make it a week's project? 

20. Build a catapult

Some talk about launching into STEM, this activity literally does so. Kids will love building a catapult and seeing laws of physics in action.

Looking to carry your child's enthusiasm for STEM through spring break, summer, or right now? Register today for iD Tech to secure your first choice of courses and dates!

A photo of Kendall

A San Jose State grad of Women’s Studies and Music, Kendall joined iD as a writer in 2013. She likes social equality and vegetarianism, and plays in an indie dream pop band.

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