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Ideas for projects for STEM club?


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Kids will range from about 4th grade to early high school, with a few younger siblings. The idea would be to have projects that kids could research, do at home, and bring in to share/test. Projects would need to be things that wouldn't cost too much. I'm thinking things like toothpick bridges, marshmallow chunkin' (catapults, trebuchets....), anything we can do with legos in a couple of hours (we have a BIG lego collection), maybe balloon rockets? Any suggestions?

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Lego projects: build a boat that can float a one pound weight for 30 seconds. Build a bridge that can support a person. Tallest tower that can withstand an earthquake. Build a zip line (fishing line across the length of the room) and build gondolas.

 

Water rockets. So much fun. And they can build them at home or in class.

 

Egg drop challenge (build a contraption that would keep a raw egg safe from being tossed off the top of a building). To make this one harder, students need to "purchase" materials and have a limited "budget". We've paired this with a talk about NASA and the Mars rover

Edited by athomeontheprairie
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search 'webelos engineering projects'

 

My crew enjoyed catapults,block and tackle,water rockets, making rope, and making a simple electric motor

 

We stayed away from things done at school...here it is bridge competition and egg drop

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Cabbage vs. litmus paper and/or pH strips as an indicator, followed by soil testing.

 

Dissolving an egg shell from around the egg in vinegar.

 

Making rock candy with a super saturated sugar solution.

 

My inclination would be to do observational work in the coop setting rather than reports, and then send the reporting assignment home with the kids.  I'd probably start out with easy water-based experiments from "Awesome Ocean Science" or "Adventures with Atoms and Molecules" but then progress fairly quickly to using a GEMS book, maybe the one on rivers and water erosion/paths/effects.

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I used to teach science. A couple of fun ones we did....

1) variation on the egg drop. Give the kids 15 pieces (or some other set amount of copy paper) and a yard of masking tape. They have to make a contraption out of only those materials that will cushion the fall of an egg dropped on it. Who ever can drop an egg from the highest point before it breaks wins. You start out at a set height, drop the egg, then move the egg up a couple inches higher and drop it, etc. until it breaks.

 

2) soda boat races. Have the kids make a boat out of a soda bottle/water bottle (not 2-liter) that is powered by the reaction between baking soda and vinegar. I gave the kids pretty much free reign on how to design them. Some of the kids did a pretty complicated design, some of them were simple. I think there was a set amount of vinegar and baking soda they could use. You will have to make 2 tracks out of rain gutters, but that's always a fun one.

 

3) we also made water powered rockets out of 2liter bottles. You would have to purchase a launcher, because you fill the bottle partial with water, then attach it to a bicycle pump with a special stopper and pressurize it. Then you pull the plug and thing goes pretty high.

 

It's been years since I taught science, so all my stuff is put away somewhere. Sorry I'm not more specifics, but I'm sure that if any of these ideas strike your fancy you can find better directions on the Net.

Edited by KrissiK
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When I taught high school physics, a few of the challenges that I used were:

 

1) Egg Walk. Teams designed a pair of shoes that will allow one team member to walk across multiple dozen eggs in their cartons without breaking them. A grocery store donated the eggs that we used.

 

2) Fan-powered paper. Students were allowed a sheet or two of printer paper, a few toothpicks, and a length of tape. They needed to make something that they thought would travel the furthest when placed in front of a box fan.

 

3) Windmill. Students brought materials from home to build a structure that would use the wind to lift a particular weight (can't remember - 1 kg?). We brought the structures outside on a windy day to determine if it would lift it, and how quickly it did so.

 

4) Solar oven. Students brought materials from home to build a solar oven. We spent a sunny class period outside, with a certain amount of water in each oven, to see whose water reached the highest temperature.

 

5) Rube Goldberg machine. A university had a contest where they had a challenge for high school teams to build a Rube Goldberg machine with as many steps as possible to complete an ordinary task, such as opening an envelope, or turning on a light switch. The machine had to be contained on a sheet of plywood.

 

Erica in OR

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3) Windmill. Students brought materials from home to build a structure that would use the wind to lift a particular weight (can't remember - 1 kg?). We brought the structures outside on a windy day to determine if it would lift it, and how quickly it did so.

 

Erica in OR

They did this at a workshop we went to. They provided donated yard signs and cardboard. Kids needed to design wind turbine blades. They had a high powered shop fan set up to provide wind. How much weight? More blades? Fewer blades? Wide? Narrow? How does angle effect the effectiveness?

I want to do this with a group!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just double check allergies before you do an egg drop challenge.  I have a kid who is allergic and can't even be around eggs that are cracked.   

 

I do a 4-H STEM club but all of our projects are things that can be done in the hour long session.  Sometimes there are things that can be brought home but I don't ever have them work on something and bring it in because half the group would forget it, and I have some kids that only come to every other meeting (we meet two different week days).

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We've just found Rubber Band Engineer by Lance Akiyama. It has easy to hard projects. My older ds just built a working, movable hydrilic arm with paint paddles, a straw, some wooden shishcabab sticks, some tubing, and ten syringes (the kind used to give babies medicine orally). That was one of the harder projects. They have tons of easier ones.

 

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
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