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5 Half Term STEM activities

It’s half term week already and it only feels like they’ve been back to school for 5 minutes, so how are you going to keep them occupied this week? If your half term plans have been postponed due to local Covid restrictions, the weather looks like it’s going to keep you indoors or you’re just in need of some inspiration then look no further. I have some half term STEM fun for you to try out at home, using simple and easy to find materials from around your house. It’ll keep your small people occupied and will save you time finding new and fun things to do with them.

Toilet Roll Conker Run
Tallest Towers
Ball Launchers
Autumn Boats
Exploding Halloween Characters
Toilet Roll Conker Run

You will need masking tape, toilet rolls tubes and conkers

This is a fun, simple STEM activity that will keep your children occupied for ages. It’s great for building resilience, designing, refining and creating new solutions to the problem. Your children will be able to get really creative with this, making runs that merge, split or race against each other.

Simply provide a space where you’re happy for them to tape the toilet roll tubes to, go outside and gather some conkers and leave them to it!

Tallest Towers

You’ll only need cocktail sticks and midget gems for this one. Set your children the challenge of building the tallest free-standing structure they can. Another great activity for developing resilience, thinking creatively and working collaboratively.

You can spend time talking about 2d and 3d shapes and their properties with younger children too. Remember triangles make for the strongest shapes, and so do pyramids (wider bases to narrow tops). For an extra challenge why not see if the structure you’ve built can withstand an earthquake by shaking the table!

Ball launchers

This simple activity explores potential and kinetic energy, probably a little advanced for our primary school children conceptually speaking, however, with such a fun and simple way to demonstrate energy transfer in action you’re building the foundations for the future.

You’ll need a strong walled paper cup, a balloon, scissors and some tape. Follow the video instructions for how to make your ball launcher. Once you’ve made it have a competition to see who can launch their ball the furthest or the highest!

Autumn Boats

It’s time to get outdoors, even if it is a bit wet, get those wellies and waterproofs on and go for an explore. Gather as many leaves, seeds, sticks and berries as you can. If you want to try to identify what you’ve found I can email over a free nature identifier guide.   

Once you’ve identified your leaves, seeds and berries you can turn them into nature boats, you might need some string too. See if you can make a boat that floats, and as an extra challenge see if it’ll float with a load.

Exploding Halloween Characters!

It’s October half term so a list of STEM activities wouldn’t be quite complete without a Halloween themed chemical reaction. Anyone who has been following The Virtual Explorers Club for a while will know that the simple mixing of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda creates a fun, fizzing reaction that delights children and adults alike!

You will need: zip lock sandwich bag (small), cornflour, vinegar, food colouring, sheet of toilet paper, bicarbonate of soda, spoon, permanent marker pen

First thing you need to do is draw a monster, ghost, witch or other Halloween character onto your sandwich bag with a permanent marker. Then add vinegar (about 1/3 of a bag full), 2 teaspoons of cornflour and a couple of drops of food colouring into your bag. Seal it up and give it a good mix. Leave the bag to one side and create a parcel of bicarbonate of soda by putting a spoonful into the middle of your sheet of tissue paper.

Fold the corners in making sure the bicarb doesn’t escape. Carefully pop the bicarb parcel into the bag, keep hold of it while you seal the bag up so it doesn’t get wet with the vinegar mixture. When you’re ready, drop the bicarb parcel into the vinegar, give it a shake and step away. It’s probably worth popping it onto a tray to make clean up easier.

Watch as your character explodes!

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