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Once the buzz around the first day of school fade, it doesn’t take long for that excitement to turn into complaining. About two weeks into the new school year, they sorely miss the carefree fun they had all summer.
Two classes many students have a hard time engaging with once school ramps up again are math and science. For some kids, the connections between numbers and scientific concepts and the real world just don’t compute. And, honestly, the topics aren’t always taught in the most interesting ways at school.
The good news for parents struggling to find ways to inspire their kids to connect more with math and science is that you don’t need to be an expert to bring these unfairly maligned subjects to life in fun and interactive ways.
We found a number of at-home projects that can get your students engaged in science and math content that don’t require worksheets or tedious studying. In fact, all of these ideas should get your kids excited to keep working, despite the fact they are actively using math and science skills.
Use a 3D Printer
One tool that can spark some interest in science, math and engineering for everyone in the family is a 3D printer. These amazing machines take computer printers to the next dimension — literally! A 3D printer translates a three-dimensional model created on a computer and builds it, often out of a plastic resin, using a layering technique.
When they first came out, the best 3D printers had a hefty price tag. Thankfully, these days, you don’t have to invest a ton of money to get the best 3D printer for personal projects. You can even find them on Amazon! If you live near a large public library, there’s even a chance that it has a 3D printer that can be used by members.
So, how can a 3D printer be a gateway into the worlds of science and math for your bored student? When kids can see how an object is created from beginning to end and then hold the final product, it holds more meaning than just reading about it.
Many websites offer free designs that work with 3D printers. We love All3DP.com as a resource. They curate all kinds of projects from across the internet for all ages, including a wind-up bathtub boat. This project can teach about gears, water displacement and floatation, and even propulsion and motion!
Build Balloon Cars and Rockets
Almost everyone has balloons around the house waiting to be blown up and put to good use. Your young science explorer can build a balloon rocket with a straw, a balloon, two chairs, some tape and a long piece of string. You can get the full directions on how to make a balloon rocket as one of the 10 STEM activities you can do at home from Kiddie Academy.
Or, if you have more of a car enthusiast at home, how about taking the same principle and applying it to those?
Whether your child loves to build their own cars or already has a toy race car that just needs an “engine,” they can add a balloon and a straw to harness the power of air for movement. It’s a great lesson about air pressure, thrust and momentum that will get them thinking about how these principles are applied in bigger machines.
Create a Water Cycle in a Bag or Bottle
Kids can create their own weather or water cycle right at home to get a first-hand look at how the atmosphere gets its rains. We all remember the chart from our elementary and middle school classrooms that showed the water cycle, right?
But, wouldn’t it be better for kids to see how this process actually works?
Playosmo.com provides a simple water-cycle experiment that the whole family can do using just a few simple items. You’ll need a resealable bag or bottle, water, food coloring, and other things easily found around the house. The directions are a cinch to follow, come with worksheets and even discussion questions to help boost learning!
Learn Coding Basics With Beads or Legos
There is so much to love with this idea we found from Little Bins for Little Hands! It incorporates learning math skills and basic computing coding skills. And, even young children can do it! All you need to provide is either some colored beads or Lego bricks.
By combining the beads and bricks with the helpful handouts from Little Bins for Little Hands, your child can learn about the binary code, which is the mathematical language computers use to “read” our commands.
Builders can create their own designs based on this fundamental code and it can be the foundation for learning all sorts of new information about video game programming, computers, design and more.
A little curiosity and some quick online investigation to lead you to enjoyable and fun projects for the whole family!