As a teacher and parent, I am always, always on the hunt for free, hands-on STEM activities for kids and teens.
It’s always been my goal to raise confident, curious kids–children who question the world around them and want to learn how and why things work the way they do. So whenever we’ve had questions about things, we researched the answer together.
I was recently introduced to an incredible resource that I’m thrilled to share with parents and educators–it’s totally free, it’s hands-on, and it’s seriously a celebration of all things STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
It’s the 4-H STEM Lab, and when the great people at HughesNet and 4-H asked me to share the 4-H STEM Lab coolness with you, I was totally game.
HughesNet and 4-H teamed up to bring STEM Lab to life, and the partnership is awesome:
- HughesNet and 4-H serves the same small, local communities across America which are passionate about STEM education, building future leaders, and the role they will play in advancing our country’s competitiveness in the global economy.
- The goal is to inspire the next generation of leaders in STEM because access to quality STEM education shouldn’t be determined by where you live.
- Read more about the HughesNet and 4-H partnership here.
Oh, how I wish something like this existed when my kids were home with me all day! The great news? No matter how old your kids are, I’m betting there’s something on this site for you.
Really and truly, it’s awesome.
Here’s the skinny. . .
STEM Lab — Free, Hands-On STEM Activities for Kids & Teens
STEM Lab is an online hub offering fun, hands-on STEM activities developed by top public universities and 4-H groups to spark kids’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
STEM Lab is
- found here —4-H.org/STEMLab;
- geared toward students age 4-16 years old;
- full of projects that include easy-to-follow instructions, discussion questions, and supply lists (many supplies you’ll have at home!);
- for use in home or classroom or club — each project comes with a “Messy Meter” ranging from “clean” to “mega mess”;
- preparing youth for the future, opening doors to exciting potential careers in STEM fields;
- making sure that all children, no matter where they live, have access to hands-on, experiential STEM learning.
How do you use STEM Lab?
1. Visit 4-H.org/STEMLab.
2. Fill out the Search Bar — decide on a topic and grade range.
3. Search for a project that appeals to you.
4. Have fun and learn!
We put the 4-H STEM Lab to the test, and it was a blast.
My nieces gave the Fizzy Foam Fun activity a go, and it was perfect for these two preschoolers.
They could not wait to have some Fizzy Foam Fun! It was a gorgeous day, so we took the girls to the store in the morning to purchase the items.
Luckily, we only needed items that are readily available at the grocery store.
The activity was very easy for the girls to participate in–and they loved it!
They even learned simple things like how to make a funnel out of a paper plate in order to more easily put the ingredients into the water bottle. The funny thing is that later that day, they wanted to do the same thing on the sand, on their own!
Great skill transfer if you ask me!
We tried the experiment with red and blue food coloring, and the girls were Ohhhhhh-ing and Ahhhhhhh-ing each time.
They were surprised at how different the bubbles felt than how they looked.
I think they expected it to feel more like a thick shaving cream-like foam. Lots of important learning!
And my own kids learned a ton by making their own Rubber Band Car.
We definitely learned that we should have used a flatter container; the website uses an empty mustard bottle–which we didn’t have on hand–so we went for a peanut container. (Easier to clean and empty for us!)
However, our container was more round, so it made making holes for the front and back axels more tricky.
Of course, I supervised the whole activity–especially the poking with a knife and using the hot glue gun!
Getting the hang of making the knots and tightening the rubber bands took a bit of time for us, but with a little patience and deep breathing, we got it.
What was helpful for us was to print out the directions for our activities and use them along with the online directions.
You know that we’re not super science focused over here; however the reading to learn is an important skill emphasized quite often. I loved the practice it gave all of us!
And what really interested Owen and Cora was the fact that the Rubber Band Car distance is a challenge in the Guinness Book of World Records–and the site helps you through timing, recording, etc. I think it’s definitely something that my kids will go back to and try.
Watch out, world!
I’ll be the first to admit, we’re not Guinness World Record-ready with our Rubber Band Car, but we tried! And boy–did we learn a ton about physics!
This was a super activity for us to try because my 9th grader is in AP Physics this year. Perfect way to spend a weekend afternoon!
What do you know about 4-H?
4-H is a community.
- the nation’s largest youth development organization which grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow;
- the youth development program of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System and USDA, and it serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3,000 local Extension offices;
- active globally, where it collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries.
- grows young people who are 4x’s more likely to contribute to their communities, 2x’s more likely to make healthier choices, 2x’s more likely to be civically active, and 2x’s more likely to participate in STEM programs;
- where kids complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, AGRICULTURE and citizenship, in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles.
- Hughes Network Systems is the global leader in broadband satellite technology and services for home and office.
- Its flagship high-speed satellite Internet service is HughesNet®, the world’s largest satellite network with over 1.2 million residential and business customers across the Americas.
- HughesNet Twitter: @HughesNet
- HughesNet Instagram: @HughesNet
- HughesNet Facebook: HughesNet
- Hughes LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/
What do you think?
Who will you share this awesome, free resource with? I’d love to know!
fyi: This post was written as part of a partnership with HughesNet and 4-H, but as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.