I believe most people over-think STEM supplies. They look to technology to fill STEM classes, and have the best tablets and apps available for kids to learn. But the truth is, you don’t really need all the fancy technology to explore STEM. To me, STEM is about improving problem solving, and thinking creatively. Some of my kid’s favorite STEM activities have come from things we already had at the house, or saw one day during a visit to the store. Today I’d love to share with you the top 5 STEM supplies you need in your home or classroom to make STEM happen everyday!
STEM Supply 1: Empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls
We’ve had a lot of fun with plain toilet paper rolls in our house. We’ve build seesaws, buildings, and ziplines with them. My son even learned about being a project engineer with toilet paper rolls!
STEM Supply 2: Coding robot
Even as a mechanical engineer, I was introduced to coding in college. A coding robot makes it fun to learn to code! All 3 of my sons have enjoyed coding with Cosmo, and my son has played with Sphero at school.
STEM Supply 3: Baking soda, Vinegar, and Cornstarch
I know…that’s more than one item. But with these three ingredients, which are probably already in your kitchen, your kids will be able to explore the field of chemistry and chemical engineering in tons of fun ways! Need some ideas? Sign up for my free Engineering ebook to explore Chemical engineering with just cornstarch and one other ingredient!
3 Engineering Activities!
Explore the fields of Mechanical, Chemical, and Electrical Engineers with this 3 day email course about engineers!
Or explore the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar with some of these experiments!
Fizzing Alphabet Eggs
Magic Color Changing Oobleck
Hatch Baking Soda Dinosaur Eggs
Blow up a Balloon
Valentine’s Day Science – Chemical Reaction
Fizzy Drip Painting-Art Meets Science
Baking Soda Magic Potion
Bubbly Fire Science Activity
Celebrate Love with the Valentine Bears!
Fizzy Dinosaur Sensory Play
B is for Baking Soda and Vinegar & Bubbles
Baking Soda Art
Fizzing Green Eggs Science Experiment
Sparkly Fizzing Rainbow
Fizzy Snow Dough!
Fizzy Exploding Hearts
How did Mount Saint Helen change the landscape of Washington?
Valentine’s Day Volcano Science Experiment with Free Valentine Cards
Watermelon Science Activity
Pumpkin Volcano for Kids
Fizzling Slime Volcano
Valentine’s Day Activities
Mud Sensory Volcano
Baking Soda Letters in the Water Table
Jumping Apple Seeds from Ten Red Apples
Halloween Science Witch’s Brew Potions
STEM Supply 4: Building materials
Hammers, screw drivers, nuts, bolts, and screws are all essential for STEM! You’d be amazed at what kids can make when given just these simple materials. Plus they learn how each of the construction material works, which is important if they decide to go into engineering. Hands-on building experience is always helpful when designing anything, be it a building, a street, or a car.
STEM Supply 5: Non-STEM Toys
Ok. So that’s a bit confusing. Hold on with me for a little. I think we do a disservice to kids by not pointing out to them that their favorite toys are perfect for exploring engineering and science concepts. Here are just a few examples:
Beyblades are big with elementary kids! My 3rd grader plays with them everyday after school with his friends and his brothers. Why not use the popular toy to teach kids physics? Try weighing each part of a Beyblade Burst, and kids will explore why each Beyblade is classified the way it is. Or time how long it takes each type of Beyblade to stop, and explore angular momentum. Or challenge kids to build their own Beyblade stadium, allowing them to repurose things in the room as an option as well!
Hot Wheels and Tracks
I love Hot Wheels tracks! My boys have explored potential and kinetic energy with them, as well as Newton’s first law of motion. They built and tested new track setups, and experimented with how far they can a car to jump.
That’s it. Only 1 of the items on my list is expensive, or requires technology. STEM is so much more than learning to code and apps (though an important skill to work on!) STEM is about hands-on learning about the physical world around us. The best STEM supplies for kids are ones that help them to see STEM in THEIR world.
What do you think about my STEM supplies list? What do you think I’m missing? I’d love to see your ideas in the comments!