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STEM Activity Spotlight: New Year's

By Francesca Vidal


As the year ends and a new one begins, a fun resolution for kids of all ages can be to learn more about STEM! A great way to engage kids in STEM is through fun and creative STEM activities. This New Year, enjoy the three New Year-themed STEM activities compiled by the Imagining Team!



Glitter Slime

photo courtesy/ Little Bins for Little Hands

Making slime is an activity that has become widely popular among children of all ages in recent years. However, did you know that making slime is considered a STEM activity? This STEM activity is fun yet simple, requiring some adult supervision for younger children.


Materials:

  • A bowl

  • A spoon

  • Clear glue

  • Liquid starch

  • Water

  • Glitter


Steps:

  1. In a bowl, pour ½ cup of water and ½ cup of glue

  2. Using a spoon, mix the two substances well

  3. Add as much glitter, in any color(s) of your choice, as you want into the bowl and mix

  4. Pour ¼ cup of liquid starch into the bowl and mix until the slime starts to stick together

  5. Knead the slime until it no longer sticks to your hands


How It Relates to STEM:

Slime relates to STEM because making slime requires a chemical reaction to occur. The reaction between the glue and the slime activator turns the liquid into slime, a stretchy and sticky substance. Slime is considered to be a non-Newtonian liquid. This means that the resistance of the slime changes as a greater force is applied. A reason why the slime is a non-Newtonian liquid is that glue is a polymer, meaning it contains long threads of molecules. The borate ions in the slime activator cause the molecules in the glue to connect together, causing the original liquid mixture to have a higher consistency and become stretchy.



Spaghetti Bridge Experiment

photo courtesy/ Little Bins for Little Hands

This next STEM activity is an experiment that older and younger children can enjoy. The experiment consists of building a bridge out of spaghetti noodles in order to support the weight of a cup filled with the Times Square Ball, or marbles. This experiment requires little to no parental supervision.


Materials:

  • Spaghetti noodles

  • Rubber bands

  • Books

  • String

  • A paper clip

  • A styrofoam cup

  • A pencil

  • Marbles


Steps:

  1. Using a pencil, poke a hole on each side of the upper side of the styrofoam cup

  2. Threading a string through the holes

  3. Bend the paper clip so it makes an “S” shape and knot the string around the lower loop of the paper clip

  4. Create two stacks of books of equal height (make sure that the stack is high enough so that the cup does not touch the ground)

  5. Experiment by placing a different number of spaghetti noodles across the stack of books and connecting the upper loop of the paper clip to the spaghetti noodles. Also, experiment by placing a different number of marbles into the cup.


How It Relates to STEM:

The spaghetti bridge experiment teaches kids about the forces present in a bridge: compression and tension. When engineers design a bridge, they need to make sure that the bridge is able to handle mass amounts of weight without succumbing to compression and tension. The more marbles in the cup, the more compression and tension are placed on the spaghetti noodles. As more spaghetti noodles are added with the same amount of marbles in the cup, less compression and tension are present.



Jar Fireworks

photo courtesy/ Little Bins for Little Hands

What better way to celebrate the New Year than with fireworks? The jar fireworks activity consists of using oil and food coloring to mimic the colorful explosions caused by fireworks. This activity is simple, entertaining, and satisfying for kids of all ages, and requires little to no parental supervision.


Materials:

  • Warm water

  • 4 colors of food coloring

  • Vegetable oil

  • A jar

  • A bowl

  • A spoon


Steps:

  1. Fill the jar ¾ of the way full of warm

  2. Add 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 4 drops of each food coloring into the bowl

  3. Use the spoon to further separate the droplets apart from each other

  4. Slowly pour the mixture of food coloring and oil into the jar of water

  5. Watch as the oil and food coloring fall into the water


How It Relates to STEM:

Water has a density of 1g/cm^3. Vegetable oil has a density of approximately .93g/cm^3. Vegetable oil has a smaller density than water, causing it to float. Objects and substances that have a lesser density than water tend to float in water, while objects and substances that have a higher density than water tend to sink in water. That is why a penny will sink in water and a feather will float.


Works Cited

McClelland, Sarah. “Easy New Years Eve STEM Activities Kids Will Love to Try!” Little Bins

for Little Hands, 29 Dec. 2022, littlebinsforlittlehands.com/new-years-eve-stem-

activities/.

“Slime.” Www.chm.bris.ac.uk, www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2002/anderson/

slime.htm#:~:text=Slime%20is%20a%20non%2DNewtonian.





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