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STEM Activity Spotlight: Holiday

By Francesca Vidal


With the holiday break approaching, engaging in STEM activities can be a great way to exercise kids’ minds, and creativity, and encourage them to explore a different aspect of STEM. Included below is a list of engaging holiday-themed STEM activities for kids of all ages to enjoy!



Snowball Shooter

Photo courtesy of the Team Cartwright website

The Snowball Shooter is a simple yet fun activity consisting of a small catapult to launch marshmallows. Kids from ages 7-11 would most enjoy this activity. Adult supervision is not needed but kids might need help securing the fork onto the popsicle sticks using rubber bands.


Materials:

  • 5 popsicle sticks

  • Rubber bands

  • A plastic spoon

  • Marshmallows


Steps:

  1. Place three popsicle sticks on top of each other and secure the ends using rubber bands.

  2. Place two popsicle sticks on top of each other and secure one of the ends using rubber bands.

  3. Place the stack of three popsicle sticks perpendicular and inside the stack of two popsicles.

  4. Wrap rubber bands around the spot where all the popsicle sticks touch one another.

  5. Place the plastic spoon on the top, vertical popsicle stick, and secure it to the same popsicle stick using rubber bands.

  6. Place a marshmallow on the spoon, push the spoon downwards, release it, and watch the marshmallow fly in the air!


How It Relates to STEM:

The snowball shooter teaches kids about projectile motion and Newton’s Third Law of Motion as the more force that is applied to the spoon, the higher the marshmallow will fly. Kids can experiment with pushing the spoon down at different angles to see how that affects the marshmallow’s maximum height, distance, and speed.



Fake Snow

Photo courtesy of the Team Cartwright website

Playing with fake snow is both amusing and mesmerizing. Believe it or not, creating fake snow is actually really simple. While kids of all ages would enjoy this activity, adult supervision is recommended for younger kids as creating fake snow can easily turn into a messy project.


Materials:

  • Baking soda

  • White hair conditioner

  • A container to place the fake snow in


Steps:

  1. In the container, place 3 cups of baking soda and ½ cup of condition and mix them together with your hands.

  2. Mix until the desired consistency is achieved.

  3. Have fun with the fake snow! Make designs, patterns, objects, and shapes with the fake snow.


How It Relates to STEM:

The fake snow feels cold when touched because of the endothermic reaction of mixing the baking soda and condition. In the reaction, heat is absorbed. When you touch the fake snow, the snow absorbs the heat from your hand. This causes your hand to feel cold.



The Grinch’s Heart

Photo courtesy of the Team Cartwright website

This STEM activity mimics the Grinch’s heart as it grew bigger towards the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas using a balloon. As the balloon is placed on the water bottle, it expands in size. Kids ages 4 to 9 may enjoy this activity the most. Parent supervision is recommended as pouring vinegar and baking soda into the water bottle can be very difficult for younger children.


Materials:

  • Green balloon

  • A marker

  • Empty plastic water bottle

  • Baking soda

  • White vinegar


Steps:

  1. Draw a heart on the green balloon using the marker.

  2. Put 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda in the plastic water bottle and pour ¼ cup of white vinegar.

  3. Place the balloon on top of the plastic water bottle.

  4. Watch as the balloon grows.


How it Relates to STEM:

The Grinch's heart activity teaches kids about states of matter and chemical reactions. The chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar causes carbon dioxide, a gas, to be formed. The resulting carbon dioxide floats to the top of the balloon. Gasses tend to move more than liquids and solids because their particles move at a quicker speed as compared to the particles in solids and liquids. The carbon dioxide pushes on the balloon, causing the balloon to grow and grow.


Works Cited

Kim. “Christmas Science Experiments: 5 Minute Holiday STEM Activities.” Team Cartwright,

12 Nov. 2018, team-cartwright.com/christmas-science-experiments/.



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