STEM Activities to Help You Deal with the “Summer Brain Drain”

I’m so amazed by how much my daughters have learned this past year. My middle girl is soaking up words like a sponge while my older girl is mastering math problems like crazy. And while we are so psyched for summer (ice cream on the daily!), the two-month break is also known to lead to loss of all of that learning where students can lose up to two months of their reading and math skills. Yikes!

To keep that “brain drain” at bay, we’re sharing a list of Summer STEM Activities from Project Lead The Way (PLTW), provider of STEM curriculums whose model is based on learning by doing. Cool! Read on to check out a few of their suggestions:

STEM Activities for Summer

  1. Design and build a car out of cardboard. Families can park their cars in the living room and enjoy a family night watching a movie in their own drive-in!
  2. Design an arcade game! Get some inspiration from a nine-year-old boy named Caine who created his very own cardboard arcade.
    SUMMER from PLTW’s 2016 Teachers of the Year
  3. Take a field trip to your local wastewater plant or water treatment facility. Typically, tours are free but need to be scheduled in advance. This is a great way for the entire family to learn about city infrastructure, water management processes, and what we can do to help conserve water and properly care for our water resources.
  4. Visit a local science museum or STEM-based museum. Most have daily activities and lots of hands-on displays as well as an I-MAX theater.
  5. Make an inventor’s box! Fill a box with common household items: boxes, cardboard tubes, empty butter tubs, glue, paper clips, string, construction paper, etc. Kids can use their imagination and natural curiosity to design and build all summer long. A couple of rules: if it’s in the box, use it. If you need something not in the box, ask for permission. One fun activity for the tinker box is to design a boat that can hold 10 to 20 pennies and then try to float it in the sink, bathtub, or small pool.
  6. Design your own toothbrush. What do you wish could be better about your current toothbrush? What issues do you see with it? Design a better version and test it. Record the steps you took to identify the problem, design a new toothbrush, and your final observations in a notebook.
  7. Robot Virtual Worlds – Expedition Atlantis! Download this fun activity to learn how to code, incorporate math skills, and expand on your proportional reasoning skills.
  8. Books are great ways to learn more about STEM and find your inner inventor. Here are a few recommendations: The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Sprires, What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada and Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
  9. Watch the TED Talk from Debbie Sterling, inventor and CEO of GoldieBlox, about her journey as a female engineer and her quest to inspire young girls to pursue engineering.
  10. Try your hand at the various tutorials on the MIT AppInventor website. Basic tutorials are great to start, and once you have a basic understanding, try the QuizMe tutorial to better understand the concept of List and how to use indexes to iterate through them.

What are some of your go-to boredom activities for the summer?

Thanks for spreading the word!
WeekendJaunts

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