Whether you're heading out on the road for spring break or taking it easy at home, incorporating a little STEM fun can help keep your child's creativity flowing during the week off.
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 one or try them all, and show your child just how 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, 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. 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:
- Easy Science Experiments You Can Do at Home or at School (Science Bob)
- 15 Awesome Science Experiments For Older Kids (Lemon Lime Adventures)
- 24 Kids’ Science Experiments That Adults Can Enjoy, Too (Buzzfeed)
4. Take a STEM Day-Trip
Last month, we published a guide featuring the top spring break STEM destinations for 2016. Whether you live on the east coast, west coast, midwest, or somewhere in between, chances are good that there is a phenomenal science museum, tech center, or other awe-inspiring STEM attraction within a few hours of your home. Hop in the car and give your kids a day-cation to remember, marked by exploration, wonder, and fun!
5. Embark on a Geology Scavenger Hunt
Looking for a simple but engaging way to spend an afternoon with your kids? 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!
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 Tech Rocket, our online learning platform for kids and teens. With gaming tournaments, safe, collaborative forums, a massive Minecraft server, and an arcade, Tech Rocket makes learning fun during spring break and all year round.
7. Designate Time for Video Games
You read correctly! It's no secret that our Minecraft courses are among the first to sell out each summer. 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.
- The 2016 Young Scientist Challenge (For 5–8th grade students, submissions due April 20, 2016)
- The Star Trek™ Replicator Challenge (For ages 5-12 and 13-19, submissions due May 1, 2016)
- Engineering For You Video Contest (For middle school students and older, submissions due May 31, 2016)
- 2016 National STEM Video Game Challenge (For middle school and high school students, submissions due August 15, 2016)
10. Organize an Hour of Code Event
Parents across the U.S. are painfully aware that many public schools don’t offer computer science courses. However, 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!
Looking to carry your child's enthusiasm for STEM through spring break and into summer? Register today for iD Tech to secure your first choice of summer camp courses, locations, and dates. Find a location near you.