4 Exciting STEM Activities for Elementary School Kids

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Have you ever gazed at an airplane soaring through clouds and wondered, “How does it stay aloft?” Or have you looked at your phone and been amazed it knows just where you are? The answers lie in STEM; the exciting fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. For elementary-aged kids, sparking curiosity in STEM starts with hands-on play. When learning is made fun via discovery and making, concepts stick readily in young minds.

The importance of hands-on learning can not be overstated, and teachers must fully understand this notion. Whether you’re pursuing an online master of teaching degree or an on-campus program, one thing is emphasized everywhere, and that is the significance of hands-on learning. This article will explore five STEM projects appropriate for elementary school classes that promote hands-on learning and fuel curiosity.

  1. Lemon Battery

Making a lemon battery is an effective way to introduce the concepts of chemical reactions and electricity.

Materials Needed

  • Lemons
  • Copper and zinc nails
  • LED light bulb
  • Copper wires


Start by rolling the lemon on a table so that all the juice inside it is released. Then, stick a copper and a zinc nail on one side of the lemon. Make sure that the nails don’t come into contact. 

Now, take the copper wire and connect one end of the wire to the copper nail and the other end to the longer leg of the LED. In the same way, attach the second copper wire to the zinc nail and the shorter leg of the LED. The LED starts glowing when the connections are made, creating a memorable learning experience for the children. 

  1. Making Plastic From Milk

Making plastic from milk sparks curiosity about concepts related to polymers, chemical reactions, and sustainable materials.

Materials Needed

  • Milk (1 cup)
  • Heat resistant mug
  • Vinegar (4 tablespoons)
  • Strainer
  • Paper towels


Start by heating the milk. When it starts steaming, carefully pour the milk into a heat-resistant mug. Then add 4 tablespoons of vinegar to the milk and stir the mixture for a few seconds. Remind the students that the vinegar will cause the milk to curdle. Proceed by separating the solid curds from the liquid milk with the help of a strainer. Allow the collected curds to dry by placing them on paper towels. After the curds dry, encourage the students to make different molds or shapes from the collected curds.

  1. Lemon Volcano

A lemon volcano can be used to pique students’ interest related to chemistry and fundamental concepts like acids and bases chemical reactions. 

Materials Needed

  • Lemons 
  • Baking soda
  • Spoon
  • Food coloring
  • Dish soap
  • Tray


Start by slicing both ends of the lemon so your volcano can stand upright. Roll the lemon on a table to release all the juice inside. Then, cut the lemon into two halves. Place the lemon halves in a tray and use a spoon to mash the lemon pulp to release more juice. Now, take another lemon and squeeze it to obtain extra juice. 

Set this extra juice aside for later use. Proceed with the activity by adding a few drops of food color to the lemon half. Add one spoonful of baking soda to the lemon and mix the mixture with the spoon.

As soon as you start stirring, the lemon will start to foam. For continuous eruption, keep adding the baking soda and lemon juice that you set aside earlier. Optionally, you can add some dish soap to everything if you want extra foam and bubbles. 

  1. DIY Thermometer

A DIY thermometer is an exciting project that can deliver concepts such as temperature, thermal expansion, and the construction of scientific instruments in an engaging manner.

Materials Needed

  • Jar
  • Straw
  • Clay
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Water
  • Food coloring


Take a jar and make a hole in its lid. Pour one cup of water and rubbing alcohol into the jar. Now add a few drops of food color to the solution. Then, make a hole in the lid of the jar and pass a straw through the hole so that half of the straw stays outside while the other half is dipped in the solution inside the jar. 

Use a piece of clay to fix the straw in place. With this, the DIY thermometer is complete and ready to be used. You can now encourage the students to observe the mark and the solution level inside the jar at different temperatures. 

For instance, children can observe varying solution levels if they put the jar in sunlight and afterward in the freezer. Students can construct the thermometer in class and take readings as a homework assignment so that they can discuss the reasons behind the differences in the recorded readings again during the next class.

Final Thoughts

STEM education has many benefits for children. When children get to learn through creative discovery rather than just reading from textbooks, it fires up their imagination. If schools provide more time for kids to experiment freely and follow their curiosity, it can plant a love of learning that endures for years. Giving young minds rich fuel for exploration can benefit them greatly now and in the future.

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