By Becc Lester-Beam, Community Outreach Coordinator at Seminole Science Charter School
As we enter the much-anticipated summer break, many children are ready to relax and take it easy after what has been a demanding year for everyone. While students deserve time to rest and relax, it’s also important to stimulate their minds and keep them learning throughout the summer months. Summer is the perfect time to be creative and intentional with activities to teach children that learning can be fun and happen anywhere. Unlock your child’s curiosity with the following STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematic) activities this summer break.
Grow a summer garden.
There’s no better way to learn about scientific concepts and growing things than having your child plant and tend to a garden. This multisensory learning experience gives children of all ages the opportunity to build a strong foundation in STEM concepts – like studying plants and insects (science), utilizing weather and soil tools (technology), and planning and designing the garden – taking into consideration factors such as exposure to sunlight, proper drainage and other important elements (engineering). The learning opportunities are endless with gardening. The best part? Children will be excited to eat their crops once grown – encouraging a healthy and nourishing diet.
Science after dark.
During the summer, many children like to stay up later than usual. If you’re up for it, use this time to do some nighttime science activities. Take your child outside for some stargazing – pointing out different planets and constellations. If you are not familiar with astrology, there is aplethora of apps to help you navigate the night sky. Prepare for your stargazing session by downloading an app that offers information on the different stars and planets and discuss each one with your child as you go. You can even follow this up by crafting your favorite constellation that you spotted!
Create your own ice cream.
You’d be surprised how much chemistry goes into making ice cream. In a small and sealable bag, place one tablespoon of sugar, ½ cup of half-and-half and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. Seal both bags well. In a gallon-sized bag, add four cups of ice cubes and ½ cup of salt. Then, put one of the small bags you prepared into the large bag with the ice cubes. Be sure both bags are sealed shut. Next – shake it up! Using an oven mitt or small towel to protect your hands, shake the bag for five minutes. Feel the smaller bag every couple of minutes to check on texture. And just like that – perfect, homemade ice cream.
Try following the same process excluding salt in the larger, gallon-sized bag. What happens without the salt? What is the difference in temperature?
When your child complains of boredom this summer, consider one of these engaging and exploratory-based activities to keep them busy. Not only do STEM activities build critical thinking skills and encourage hands-on learning, but it allows you to learn as a family – and have fun doing it.