The demand for STEM careers continues to grow in the Technology Age. Yet, companies struggle to find qualified engineers and scientists to fill the jobs openings. I decided to research why there isn’t a pipeline of engineers for the available jobs, and found that kids lose interest in STEM careers around middle school age. I try to inspire my boys with STEM projects at home to both inspire and connect with them. As parents, we need to support our educators to inspire the next generation of Engineers, and do our part. If you have a middle schooler, I would encourage you to do these 15 middle school STEM projects with your kids this year. Not only will you encourage them to pursue STEM, but you will also bond with them during one of the most difficult seasons in their lives.
15 Middle School STEM Projects to Connect with your Middleschooler
STEM challenge: Design a bridge-Adventures in Mommydom
Can you build a bridge strong enough to hold 100 pennies? Adventures in Mommydom reviews a book full of STEM activities by trying one of the activities in the book.
“We have entered full summer funschooling mode here and that means I’m on the lookout for projects that I can use for some fun hands on learning, and in this case I wanted some fun science lessons. Enter Kim from Learning Hypothesis. She told me she had a new ebook coming out full of science challenges and STEM activites, and I knew this might be what I was looking for.”
Ancient Greek Architecture STEM Challenge & Activities-Preschool Powol Packets
Using Ancient Greek Architecture styles, Preschool Powol Packets challenges kids to build a strong building with items around the house!
“We had SO much fun with out Ancient Greek Day that I am postponing my other scheduled posts to share these with you first! I absolutely loved them! The first activity we did was an Ancient Greek Architecture STEM Challenge!”
STEM Challenge: Sedimentary Rocks Model– Preschool Powol Packets
Preschool Powol Packets creates a yummy model of sedimentary rocks, and explains how they are formed.
“This STEM Challenge is inspired by a geology class I’m teaching for kindergarten – 2nd grade homeschoolers in our area. Last week we learned about sedimentary rocks, and I realized my plans for a model could easily be adapted to a STEM activity that kids of all ages (from preschoolers to adults) would love!”
Law of Inertia Experiment using a Fidget Spinner!-From Engineer to Stay at Home Mom
Explore what happens to a fidget spinner when you add or take away weight, and learn about inertia at the same time!
“In my last post I shared a simple experiment with my son that taught him about Center of Mass. While we were doing the experiment, we were also playing with another physics concept; the Law of Inertia. Inertia is an object’s resistance to change it’s state of motion. For example, if a ball is rolling on a surface with ZERO friction (a force that causes moving things to stop), the inertia of the ball would keep it moving at the same speed forever! But in the real world, we have friction, so the inertia of an object is its resistance to being stopped.”
Paintbrush Engineering STEM Challenge-Preschool Powol Packets
“This was the most perfect book-inspired, team-building, back-to-school STEM project we’ve done!”
How to Build a Toothpick Bridge with Pitsco Education!-Look! We’re Learning
Learn about building a bridge, then test how strong your bridge is! A perfect hands-on STEM activity to introduce kids to Civil Engineering.
“STEM education is a huge priority in our homeschool these days. We’ve got a busy middle schooler and I want her to get a good introduction to science, technology, engineering, and math during these years. That way, as she goes on in her schooling, she won’t be intimidated by these subjects later. And who knows? Maybe she’ll become an engineer herself!
So I jumped at the chance to try the Toothpick Bridges Maker Project from Pitsco Education! See how this curriculum helps kids learn how to build a toothpick bridge and learn about design and engineering at the same time!”
Work in teams, and see which team can build the tallest spaghetti tower!
“Have you ever tried building a tower using raw spaghetti noodles? I love this fun twist on the traditional Spaghetti Tower STEM Challenge for Kids.”
Simple Machine Bird: Levers, Gears, and Birds! Oh My!-From Engineer to Stay at Home Mom
Using two different types of simple machines, build a bird with wings that actually move!
“Have you ever heard of simple machines? Simple machines are in every piece of machinery in a factory. They’re in your car, and many toys. But what are they? Simple put, simple machines are a way to make things move easier. For example, try pushing a heavy box full of textbooks from one end of the room to another. It takes a lot of work, hu? But give your box 4 wheels and two axels, and its a lot easier to move! My son’s recent Tinker Crate used two kinds of simple machines to make a bird fly!”
Layers of the Earth Bowls-Red Ted Art
Red Ted Art provides great instructions on modeling the layers of the earth by creating some useful and super cute bowls!
“We have another fun and hopefully easy science fair projects to have go at today – Layers of the Earth Bowls. We made a papier mache solar system many moons ago, and this solar system craft is inspired by it.”
Stick Raft Building STEM Project-Kids Craft Room
Another great project to practice the engineering design process! Go for a walk with you kids, and collect some sticks on your way. Then go home and try this STEM challenge!
“If your kids are anything like mine then you’ve probably got a constant hoard of sticks leaning up by your back door! What is it with kids and sticks? Natural magnetism to be sure! Why not put some of them to good use with this Stick Raft Building STEM Project? (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) It’s a great way for kids to engage with Nature, learn new skills and have fun!”
Lego Pendulum Painting-Kids Craft Room
Build a pendulum using Legos, and create a beautiful piece of art! Plus you’ll find even more creative ways to use Legos!
“Swing, spin, drip, splatter…we LOVE this LEGO® Pendulum Painting activity and just know that you will too!”
Learn Color Mixing with Computer Coding-iGame Mom
A great introduction to coding using something all kids are familiar with: COLORS! This activity allows kids to code no matter what level they are at.
“Color mixing is always a fun activity for kids. Now adding computer coding and electronic engineering into the play, it will be more fun and more challenging. Today we share fun coding activities for kids to learn about colors and light.”
Design and build the Da Vinci Bridge using common school supplies and no glue!
“A while ago we visited a Da Vinci exhibit. There was a demo of building Da Vinci bridge with wood logs. We were fascinated by the genius mechanical engineering design and decided to try one ourselves.”
Making the Layers of the Ocean-A Density Activity-From Engineer to Stay at Home Mom
Learn about density and the 3 major layers of the ocean! A fun STEM activity that only requires water, food coloring, and sand.
“In second grade, my oldest studied the layers of the ocean. As a fun activity at home, I thought we could bring what he learned alive by modeling the layers. As it turned out, making the layers of the ocean was also a great simple activity to teach density for kids!”
It’s so important for us to find ways to connect with our kids as they grow up. My sons often open up when we’re doing a project or experiment. Make it a point to try these STEM activities with your middle schooler this year. Do one a weekend, or even on a month. It may make all the difference in their school year!
If you liked these projects, you’ll love some of my other ones!
How to Make Ice Cream Quicker using Heat Transfer!
Angular Momentum Experiment with Beyblades!
Easy Beyblade Science Experiment: Explore Different Types of Beyblades
Easy and Fun Garden Preschool Science Experiment
Rainbow Crayon: a Crayon Melting Point Experiment
The Science Behind Melting Crayons
Solar Energy for Kids: Reverse Engineering a Solar Toy!
Make a Light up Card with a Simple Circuit!
Tensile Strength Experiment: Find the Strongest Spider Web!
30 STEM Activities for Kindergarten