How Do You Make STEM Fun? (14 STEM Projects that Rock the Fun Meter!)

If you’re a parent or educator, we know how important it is to make learning fun and engaging for kids. That’s why we’re here to show you how to make STEM projects an absolute blast!

The STEM projects and easy science experiments that make it to this list are super fun for kids. Imagine your child or students getting excited about building robots, designing cool experiments, or solving real-world problems. We’ll guide you through step-by-step instructions and provide ideas to ensure that STEM projects become a highlight of their learning journey.

From building balloon-powered cars to designing paper airplanes and discovering the wonders of the water cycle, the hands-on learning activities below are always a hit with kids.

Fun STEM Activities for Kids

1. Balloon-Powered Cars

Balloon-powered cars are a fantastic hands-on engineering activity that sparks the creativity and curiosity of kids. It offers an exciting combination of design, construction, and scientific exploration, making it an engaging project for children of various ages.

When it comes to fun, few things rival the thrill of designing and building your own car and then watching it zoom across the room powered solely by a balloon. Kids love the excitement of racing and experimenting with different designs to optimize speed and distance.

Through this project, kids learn about basic engineering principles, including propulsion and the transfer of energy. They gain valuable hands-on experience with designing, problem-solving, and understanding cause and effect.

Materials Needed:

  1. Empty plastic water bottle
  2. Balloons
  3. Straws
  4. Wheels (e.g., bottle caps or small plastic lids)
  5. Rubber bands
  6. Tape

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Attach the wheels to the bottom of the bottle using tape.
  2. Create a hole in the bottle’s cap and insert a straw through it.
  3. Use tape or rubber bands to secure the straw in place.
  4. Blow up a balloon and pinch the opening to keep the air inside.
  5. Attach the balloon to the end of the straw.
  6. Place the car on a smooth surface, release the balloon, and watch it zoom!

2. Paper Airplanes

Paper airplanes are a classic STEM activity that sparks creativity in kids. With just a sheet of paper, children can design, fold, and launch their very own flying machines. This activity combines elements of engineering, aerodynamics, and problem-solving, providing an entertaining learning experience for kids of all ages.

Materials Needed:

  1. A sheet of paper (preferably letter-sized or A4)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Start with a blank sheet of paper and orient it horizontally (landscape mode).
  2. Fold the paper in half lengthwise, aligning the edges to create a center crease. Unfold the paper.
  3. Fold the top edges down to meet at the center crease, forming a triangle shape at the top.
  4. Fold the resulting triangle down, aligning the bottom edge with the center crease.
  5. Fold the two sides of the paper inward along the center crease, creating diagonal edges that meet at the bottom.
  6. Fold the bottom edge up, aligning it with the bottom of the previous folds.
  7. Fold the paper in half along the center crease, trapping the previous folds inside.
  8. Create wings by folding down the top layer of paper diagonally on each side.
  9. Hold your paper airplane by the body and launch it gently, giving it a slight push forward.

Experiment with different folding techniques, wing sizes, and launch angles to see how they affect the flight of your paper airplane.

3. Paper Helicopters

Paper helicopters are a fun STEM activity that combines elements of engineering and physics. Kids can easily create these spinning marvels using paper, and they provide a great opportunity to learn about aerodynamics and gravity. With a few folds and a drop from above, children can watch as their paper helicopters gracefully descend to the ground.

Materials Needed:

  1. A sheet of paper (preferably letter-sized or A4)
  2. Scissors (optional)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Start with a square piece of paper. If you don’t have a square, you can trim a rectangular sheet to form a square shape.
  2. Fold the square diagonally from one corner to the opposite corner, creating a triangle.
  3. Fold the resulting triangle in half by bringing one corner to the other, forming a smaller triangle.
  4. Take the bottom corner of the triangle (the one opposite the folded edge) and fold it up towards the top point of the triangle, making a smaller triangle.
  5. Hold the triangle with the long folded edge facing down and the open end pointing up.
  6. Cut small slits along the long folded edge, leaving about an inch uncut at the top.
  7. Unfold the paper to reveal the slits.
  8. Roll the paper tightly from the top point downward, forming the body of the helicopter.
  9. Fold the flaps at the bottom outward to create the helicopter’s blades.
  10. Hold the helicopter by the body, stand on a higher surface, and drop it gently. Watch as it spins and descends gracefully.

Experiment with different blade sizes and shapes, as well as varying the length of the helicopter’s body, to observe how these modifications impact the flight and spinning motion.

4. Paper Chain

Paper chains are a creative craft activity that kids of all ages can enjoy. This simple STEM project involves connecting strips of paper together to form a chain. Paper chains offer an excellent opportunity for children to practice their fine motor skills while exploring patterns, colors, and spatial relationships. They can be used as festive decorations, countdown chains, or even as visual aids for learning concepts like counting and patterning.

Materials Needed:

  1. Colored construction paper or any other colorful paper
  2. Scissors
  3. Glue or tape (optional)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Begin by cutting the paper into strips. The width of the strips will determine the size of your paper chain links. You can cut the strips to be the same width or experiment with different widths for a varied look.
  2. Take one strip of paper and form a loop by bringing its ends together and gluing or taping them to secure the loop. Make sure the paper’s colored side is facing outward.
  3. Take the next strip of paper and thread it through the first loop before forming another loop and securing it. Repeat this process, continuously adding new strips through the previous loops, to create an interconnected chain.
  4. Continue adding loops until you achieve the desired length for your paper chain. You can use a single color or alternate between different colors for a vibrant effect.

Get creative with your paper chain by using different colors, and patterns, or even adding decorative elements like stickers or drawings on each loop.

5. Paper Cup Engineering

Paper cup engineering is an engaging STEM activity that challenges kids to develop problem-solving skills. By using simple materials like paper cups, children can design and construct various structures, encouraging them to explore principles of engineering, stability, and balance.

Materials Needed:

  1. Paper cups (multiple)
  2. Scissors
  3. Craft sticks or popsicle sticks
  4. Tape or glue
  5. Optional: additional materials like straws, string, rubber bands, or paperclips for added structural support

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Begin by brainstorming and planning the structure you want to build with the paper cups. It could be a tower, bridge, or any other design you can imagine.
  2. Use scissors to make small cuts or openings in the cups to allow for interlocking or connecting them together.
  3. Start constructing the base of your structure by connecting cups together. You can use tape or glue to secure them in place.
  4. Continue building upward by adding more cups, and stacking and connecting them as needed. Consider different ways to interlock the cups to ensure stability.
  5. Use craft sticks or popsicle sticks to reinforce and strengthen the structure. You can tape or glue them to the cups to provide additional support.
  6. Experiment with different arrangements and techniques to achieve the desired shape and stability of your paper cup structure.
  7. Once you’ve completed your design, test its stability and durability. Observe how well it withstands forces or weight.

6. Water Cycle Simulation

The water cycle simulation is a science experiment that allows kids to explore the process of the water cycle. By simulating the natural cycle of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation, children can gain a better understanding of this essential Earth science concept. This experiment provides a hands-on experience that is both fun and informative, making learning about the water cycle engaging and accessible. It’s a simple STEM project that makes it one of the easiest prek learning activities you can do with your preschoolers at home.

Materials Needed:

  1. Small bowl or cup
  2. Plastic wrap or a clear plastic bag
  3. Water
  4. Rubber band or string
  5. Ice cubes (optional)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Begin by filling the small bowl or cup with water, leaving some space at the top.
  2. Cover the bowl or cup with plastic wrap or a clear plastic bag, ensuring it is tightly secured around the edges using a rubber band or string.
  3. Place the bowl or cup in a sunny location, near a window or under a lamp. The heat will cause the water to evaporate.
  4. As the water evaporates, it will condense on the plastic wrap or bag, forming droplets.
  5. Observe the droplets of water that have formed on the plastic wrap or bag. These droplets simulate the process of condensation.
  6. Over time, the droplets will accumulate and eventually “rain” back into the bowl or cup, representing the process of precipitation.
  7. For an additional element, you can place a few ice cubes on top of the plastic wrap or bag to create a colder environment, which will enhance condensation.

As you observe and discuss the various stages of the water cycle, you can explain the importance of water for our planet and how this natural cycle sustains life. This simple and captivating science experiment brings the water cycle to life, allowing kids to witness firsthand how water transforms and circulates within our environment.

7. Vinegar Chemical Reaction

The vinegar chemical reaction experiment is a captivating way for kids to explore chemical reactions. By combining vinegar with a few common household ingredients, children can witness the transformation and understand the concept of chemical changes. This experiment showcases the reaction between vinegar and another substance, demonstrating the power of chemistry in action.

Materials Needed:

  1. Vinegar (white vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
  2. Baking soda
  3. Measuring spoons
  4. Small bowl or cup
  5. Optional: Food coloring, dish soap

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Start by pouring a small amount of vinegar into a bowl or cup.
  2. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to the vinegar.
  3. Observe the immediate reaction as the vinegar and baking soda combine. You will notice a bubbling and fizzing effect.
  4. For an added twist, you can experiment with additional elements:
    • Add a few drops of food coloring to the vinegar before adding baking soda to create colorful reactions.
    • Mix a drop of dish soap with the vinegar for enhanced foaming action.
  5. As the chemical reaction occurs, discuss with the children the gas that is being produced, which is carbon dioxide (CO2).

This experiment demonstrates an acid-base reaction, where the vinegar (acid) reacts with the baking soda (base) to produce carbon dioxide gas. Encourage kids to observe and discuss the changes they witness, emphasizing the importance of safety precautions and responsible experimentation.

8. Lava Lamp

The lava lamp experiment is a mesmerizing way for kids to learn about density and the principles of liquid interaction. By creating their own lava lamp using household materials, children can observe the movement of colorful blobs resembling lava, providing a captivating visual display. This experiment combines science and creativity to engage young minds in an exploration of physical properties and chemical reactions.

Materials Needed:

  1. Clear plastic bottle or glass jar
  2. Vegetable oil
  3. Water
  4. Food coloring
  5. Effervescent tablets (such as Alka-Seltzer)
  6. Optional: Glitter for added sparkle

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Fill the plastic bottle or glass jar about three-quarters full with vegetable oil.
  2. In a separate container, mix water with a few drops of food coloring until you achieve the desired color.
  3. Slowly pour the colored water into the bottle, filling it almost to the top but leaving a small gap.
  4. Wait for the oil and water to separate into distinct layers. This may take a few minutes.
  5. Break an effervescent tablet into small pieces or halves and drop one piece into the bottle.
  6. Observe as the tablet reacts with the water, creating bubbles that rise through the oil, resembling a lava lamp-like movement.
  7. To enhance the effect, you can add glitter to mimic the appearance of floating particles.

Make it Fun:

As the effervescent tablet reacts with the water, carbon dioxide gas is released, creating bubbles that rise through the oil due to differences in density. This mesmerizing lava lamp-like effect provides a great visual experience while illustrating the principles of density and the interaction of liquids.

Encourage children to experiment with different colors, amounts of food coloring, or even the speed at which they add the effervescent tablet to observe the varying effects.

8. Endothermic Reactions

Endothermic reactions are chemical processes that absorb heat from their surroundings, resulting in a decrease in temperature. In this simple science experiment, kids can observe and experience an endothermic reaction firsthand. By combining specific ingredients, they will witness a reaction that absorbs heat and creates a chilly sensation, offering an engaging exploration of chemical reactions and energy transfer.

Materials Needed:

  1. Baking soda
  2. Vinegar
  3. Measuring spoons
  4. Small bowl or cup
  5. Optional: Food coloring, dish soap, ice cubes

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Begin by pouring a small amount of baking soda into a bowl or cup.
  2. Optional: Add a few drops of food coloring and a drop of dish soap to the baking soda for visual effects.
  3. Gradually add vinegar to the bowl, stirring gently and observing the reaction.
  4. As the vinegar and baking soda combine, they undergo an endothermic reaction, resulting in a decrease in temperature.
  5. For a cooler experience, you can add ice cubes to the mixture, intensifying the chilling effect.

During the endothermic reaction, the chemical bonds between the vinegar and baking soda are broken, requiring energy in the form of heat. As a result, the surrounding environment, including the mixture itself, feels cooler.

Encourage kids to touch the mixture and observe the temperature change. Discuss the concepts of exothermic and endothermic reactions, highlighting how energy is absorbed or released during chemical processes.

9. Weather Stations

Weather stations provide an exciting opportunity for kids to become young meteorologists, observing and recording weather patterns and conditions. By setting up their own weather station, children can develop an understanding of meteorology, learn about different weather elements, and gain insights into the ever-changing atmosphere. This hands-on science exploration enables kids to engage with real-time weather data and deepen their knowledge of the natural world.

Materials Needed:

  1. Thermometer
  2. Barometer
  3. Anemometer (wind speed measurement device)
  4. Rain gauge
  5. Weather vane
  6. Cloud chart or identification guide
  7. Notebook or weather log
  8. Optional: Internet access for accessing weather forecasts and satellite images

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Set up the thermometer in a shaded area away from direct sunlight. It should be mounted at a height that allows easy reading.
  2. Position the barometer in a location where it won’t be affected by heat sources or drafts. Ensure it is level and calibrate it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Place the anemometer in an open area, free from obstructions such as trees or buildings. It should face into the wind for accurate measurements.
  4. Install the rain gauge in an open space where rainwater can collect without interference. Make sure it is stable and level to obtain precise readings.
  5. Mount the weather vane on a high, visible location, preferably on top of a pole or rooftop. It should rotate freely to indicate wind direction.
  6. Encourage children to observe and record the weather conditions daily, including temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, and precipitation.
  7. Use cloud charts or identification guides to classify and track different cloud types, noting their characteristics and changes over time.
  8. Discuss the recorded data with kids, helping them understand the relationships between various weather elements and predicting future weather patterns.

Engaging with weather stations allows children to develop scientific observation skills, data collection techniques, and an understanding of how weather impacts our daily lives. By nurturing their curiosity about the atmosphere, kids can gain a deeper appreciation for the science behind weather forecasting and become keen observers of the world around them.

10. Roller Coaster Physics

Roller coaster physics offers an exhilarating and educational exploration of the principles of motion, gravity, and energy transfer. By designing and building their own mini roller coasters, children can delve into the exciting world of engineering challenges while learning about key concepts in physics. This hands-on activity sparks creativity and critical thinking as kids experiment with different track designs, slopes, and loop-de-loops to create thrilling rides.

11. Building a Wind-Powered Car

Building a wind-powered car is an engineering project that introduces kids to the power of wind energy and the principles of motion. By designing and constructing their own wind-powered cars, children can explore the concepts of aerodynamics, energy transfer, and propulsion. This engaging project encourages creativity, problem-solving, and scientific inquiry as kids harness the force of the wind to propel their vehicles.

Materials Needed:

  1. Lightweight materials such as balsa wood, foam board, or recycled materials (e.g., cardboard)
  2. Wooden skewers or dowels
  3. Plastic or foam wheels
  4. Craft supplies (scissors, tape, glue, etc.)
  5. Balloon or sail material
  6. Optional: Decorative materials for customization

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Begin by designing your wind-powered car. Consider factors such as weight, balance, aerodynamic shape, and the placement of wheels.
  2. Cut the lightweight materials to create the body and base of the car. Ensure it is sturdy and lightweight for optimal performance.
  3. Attach the wheels to the car’s base using tape, glue, or by creating holes for inserting skewers or dowels as axles.
  4. Construct a sail or balloon attachment at the back of the car. This will capture the wind and provide the driving force.
  5. Secure the sail or balloon to the car using tape, glue, or by attaching it to a wooden skewer or dowel.
  6. Test your wind-powered car by placing it in a windy location or by using a fan to simulate wind. Observe how the car moves and makes use of the wind’s force.
  7. Experiment with different designs, sail shapes, or balloon sizes to optimize the car’s performance. Make adjustments and refinements based on observations.

Encourage kids to think critically about how their car’s design affects its ability to harness wind energy and move efficiently. Discuss the concepts of force, drag, and momentum as they relate to the wind-powered car’s motion.

Building a wind-powered car not only offers an engaging engineering experience but also promotes scientific inquiry, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Let the power of wind propel your imagination as you embark on this exciting journey of wind energy exploration!

12. Designing Water Filters

Designing a water filter is a science experiment that allows kids to learn about filtration and water purification. By creating their own water filter, children can explore the importance of clean water and understand the process of removing impurities. This activity encourages problem-solving, critical thinking, and scientific inquiry while promoting an appreciation for clean and accessible water.

Materials Needed:

  1. Plastic bottle (empty and clean)
  2. Sand or gravel
  3. Activated charcoal or carbon
  4. Fine cloth or coffee filter
  5. Scissors
  6. Rubber band
  7. Dirty water source (such as tap water mixed with dirt or impurities)
  8. Optional: Additional filter media (e.g., cotton balls, pebbles, or activated alumina)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Prepare the plastic bottle by cutting off the bottom, creating a funnel-like shape. Make sure to smooth any rough edges.
  2. Layer the filter media in the bottle in the following order:
    • Place a layer of fine cloth or coffee filter at the bottom to prevent the passage of larger particles.
    • Add a layer of activated charcoal or carbon to help remove chemical impurities and odors.
    • Add a layer of sand or gravel for the physical filtration of larger particles.
  3. Optional: Include additional filter media layers, such as cotton balls or activated alumina, to enhance the filtering capabilities.
  4. Pour the dirty water through the filter into a separate container, allowing it to pass through the layers of filtration media.
  5. Observe the filtered water as it collects in the container. Note the clarity and cleanliness compared to the initial dirty water.
  6. Discuss the effectiveness of the filter and the remaining impurities in the filtered water.
  7. Reflect on the importance of water filtration and the significance of clean drinking water.

Encourage kids to experiment with different filter media and layering techniques to optimize the filtration process. Discuss the concept of filtration, as well as the challenges and considerations involved in designing effective water filters.

Designing a water filter provides a hands-on experience that promotes scientific exploration and environmental awareness. Through this experiment, children gain a deeper understanding of the importance of clean water and the methods used to ensure its accessibility.

13. Constructing a Solar Oven

Constructing a solar oven introduces kids to the concept of harnessing solar energy for cooking. By designing and building their own solar ovens, children can explore the principles of solar power, heat transfer, and sustainable cooking methods. This STEM project combines science and environmental awareness while providing a practical and enjoyable way to cook food using renewable energy.

Materials Needed:

  1. Cardboard box (with a lid if possible)
  2. Aluminum foil
  3. Black construction paper or paint
  4. Clear plastic wrap or a transparent oven bag
  5. Scissors
  6. Tape
  7. Optional: Thermometer, cooking rack or wire mesh, cooking pot or tray

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Start by selecting a suitable cardboard box and ensure it is clean and sturdy. Consider the size and shape based on the food you intend to cook.
  2. Line the inner walls and bottom of the box with aluminum foil, shiny side facing inwards. This helps reflect and retain solar heat.
  3. Cover the inside of the box lid with black construction paper or paint. Black absorbs more heat from the sun’s rays, enhancing heating efficiency.
  4. Create a clear window on the top side of the box using clear plastic wrap or a transparent oven bag. This allows sunlight to enter and trap heat inside.
  5. Cut a flap on one side of the box to act as an opening for placing and removing food. This should align with the window for maximum heat retention.
  6. Use tape to secure all seams and edges, ensuring the box is well sealed to minimize heat loss.
  7. Optional: Insert a cooking rack or wire mesh inside the box to elevate the food and allow hot air to circulate evenly. Place a cooking pot or tray on the rack to hold the food.
  8. Position the solar oven in direct sunlight, preferably on a flat surface. Adjust the angle of the box to maximize exposure to the sun’s rays.
  9. Place food inside the oven and close the flap tightly. Monitor the temperature using a thermometer if available.
  10. Allow the sun’s energy to heat the oven, gradually cooking the food inside. Cooking times may vary based on weather conditions and food type.

Engage in discussions about renewable energy, sustainability, and the advantages of solar cooking. Encourage kids to record and compare cooking times and results with traditional cooking methods.

Constructing a solar oven provides an exciting opportunity for children to explore alternative energy sources while learning about heat transfer and sustainability. It’s a wonderful blend of science, environmental consciousness, and delicious culinary experiences.

14. Creating Electrical Circuits

Creating electrical circuits introduces kids to the fundamentals of electricity and circuitry. By designing and building their own circuits, children can explore the flow of electric current, understand the components of a circuit, and witness the effects of different connections. This interactive project fosters problem-solving, critical thinking, and a deeper understanding of how electricity powers our daily lives.

Materials Needed:

  1. Batteries (AA or AAA)
  2. Battery holders or battery packs
  3. Assorted electrical wires with alligator clips or jumper wires
  4. Light bulbs or LED bulbs
  5. Switches (push-button or toggle switches)
  6. Optional: Resistors, capacitors, diodes, or other electronic components
  7. Insulating tape or electrical tape

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Begin by selecting the electrical components you wish to include in your circuit. Start with a simple circuit consisting of a battery, wire, and light bulb.
  2. Connect the battery holder or battery pack to the light bulb using electrical wires. Ensure the polarity is correct, matching the positive (+) and negative (-) terminals.
  3. Attach alligator clips or jumper wires to the ends of the wires to facilitate easy connections.
  4. Create a closed circuit by connecting the ends of the wires to the corresponding terminals on the light bulb. The light bulb should illuminate when the circuit is complete.
  5. Experiment with different configurations, such as adding a switch in series or parallel to control the flow of electricity.
  6. Optional: Incorporate resistors, capacitors, diodes, or other electronic components to observe their effects on the circuit.
  7. Use insulating tape or electrical tape to secure connections and prevent short circuits.
  8. Reflect on the different components and connections, discussing how they affect the flow of electricity and the brightness of the light bulb.

Encourage kids to experiment with various circuit designs and explore the effects of different components. Discuss concepts such as open circuits, closed circuits, conductors, insulators, and the importance of safety precautions when working with electricity.

Creating electrical circuits provides a hands-on experience that promotes scientific inquiry, problem-solving, and a deeper understanding of the principles of electricity. Spark your curiosity and illuminate your knowledge as you embark on this exciting journey of circuit exploration!