Activities and Ideas to Celebrate National STEM Day

5 min to read
STEM activities to do with your children and students

November 8 is National STEM Day, which is an ideal time to spark students’ interest in an educational experience that will prepare them for the careers of the future. 

Individually, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are subjects that help shape the foundation of any traditional education. However, understanding how those subjects relate to one another will help students develop the necessary skills for academic, professional, and personal success.  

This diagram (located on page 3 of the document) illustrates how STEM as a whole is more than the sum of its individual subjects. For instance, math is used by scientists, and science is an integral part of the technology that engineers use to solve problems and design things. 

“It is important to acknowledge that no one of these [STEM] subjects can accomplish these goals by itself,” writes David D. Thornburg in his paper Why STEM Topics are Interrelated: The Importance of Interdisciplinary Studies in K–12 Education. “They are all interrelated, and it is important that these relationships are understood by students.” 

Your budding computer scientist, technologist, engineer, or mathematician may help build and code machines that process data 100 million times faster than today’s most powerful computers. They may solve climate change, colonize space, improve quality of life, or change today’s science fiction into the future’s scientific fact.  

More than all of that, STEM studies help develop critical life skills such as reasoning, problem-solving, critical thinking, curiosity, creativity, and conceptual understanding. Regardless of what direction your kids take after high school, those skills can guide them toward success.  

Talking to kids about STEM is important. STEM Day activities, in particular, help  students draw real-life connections to the concepts.  

National STEM Day Activities by Age

Talking about their hobbies and interests is a great way to start a STEM conversation. As they play, get them thinking about the various ways that STEM is  part of everything they do by asking: How are you able to ride a bike? How does your computer work? Why are musical notes different? How is ice cream made? 

You probably already know the nuts and bolts of the whys and hows, but the object of the exercise is to spark  curiosity that will lead them to finding the answers on their own.  

Which brings up a question: What’s the best age for kids to start learning STEM?  

Image of Connections Academy students with her Learning Partner working on a stem project

STEM for First grade through Fifth Grade

Hands-on learning actively engages students by encouraging them to ask questions: “What happens if … ?” and “Why did it do that when I  … ?” Simple at-home experiments essentially wire their fast-developing brains to solve problems and find answers.  

Other activities that stimulate a grade schoolers curiosity include:  


Games to Make Summer Learning Loss Prevention Fun

Build a paper airplane, see how far it flies, then see what effect folding it a different way has on its next flight. Why did it do that? What can I build with jellybeans? 

All you need for this activity is a pile of jellybeans and toothpicks. Start sticking them together and see what kind of imaginative structures emerge. How can I cut an ice cube in half? 

Ice Under Pressure uses an ice cube, a wire, and a few other kitchen items to promote kids’ scientific understanding and reasoning skills.   

These do-it-yourself investigations motivate kids to start thinking about STEM ideas and concepts and forming a growth mindset that is critical to their educational experience. 

Young middle school student taking part in a STEM activity.

STEM for Sixth Grade and Up

The transition from elementary school to middle grades can be tricky. STEM becomes more challenging and focused on its integral topics. This is also when it’s critical to keep girls engaged in STEM; census data shows women are underrepresented in the STEM careers of the future. 

How do videos work?

Make a stop-motion video. Make a pattern with some Legos, shoot it with a smart phone camera. Change the pattern, shoot it, and so on. Use a stop-motion app to stitch them together.  

How can I drop an egg without breaking it?

This staple of middle grade science becomes an effective STEM activity when it generates lively discussions about gravity and how to create a soft landing. 

How did this rainbow get in the bowl?

The Milk Rainbow Experiment motivates students to think like scientists by making a hypothesis and conducting an experiment to see if they’re right. 

Online Learning Provides STEM Units for All Grade Levels

This National STEM Day, take a minute to browse the Connections Academy® Resource Hub where you’ll find dozens of STEM activities by age in elementary, middle, and high school.

“My 11th grader was able to take classes like 2D Animation, 3D Computer Modeling ... [and] CS Discoveries where he learned to do coding. My son also loves all of the STEM-related clubs and extra activities/events that are offered. He really gets excited to be a part of these things.” — Connections Academy parent 

To learn more about how Connections Academy tuition-free online public school can help prepare your student for a successful future, request it’s a free eGuide or log on to join a virtual information session with educators, staff, and other parents. 

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