5 Fun STEAM Projects with Curious Jane
S is for Science: A Cloud in a Jar
This homemade rainstorm project teaches your child about weather systems and precipitation. Ages 3+
What To Do:
1. Fill the jar with water until it is almost full.
2. Squirt foam shaving cream over the top, so it completely covers the surface.
3. Fill a small cup with water and add plenty of blue food coloring.
4. Using a medicine dropper, have your child dribble blue water on top of the shaving-cream cloud, and watch the rainstorm form.
T is for Technology: Light-up LED Circuit Cards
By making a card with a light that blinks, your child learns how a basic electrical circuit works. Ages 6+
The word “circuit” sounds like “circle,” so a circuit needs to be circular. To start this project you’ll need cardstock, an LED ($3 for 20), wire, a brass brad, and a basic 3-volt coin battery.
Download our template and full directions here!
E is for Engineering: A Suspension Bridge
Your little architect can design and build a bridge, where the deck (usually a road) is supported by cables. The long suspension cables are anchored by towers (here, we used chairs) on either end. Thin vertical cables then are hung from the suspension cables. Ages 5+
What You'll Need: Six to ten 8”x 10” foam boards, duct tape, 2 chairs, heavy books, scissors, thick and thin cord.
What To Do:
1. Tape foam boards together lengthwise to form the deck. Punch holes at the end corners, as shown.
2. Span the deck from one chair seat to the other. Set heavy books on each end to weight the deck.
3. Cut two lengths of thick cord, about twice as long as the distance between the tops of the chairs; these will be the suspension cables. Rig the cables over the chairs as shown below, tying to punched holes at each end.
4. Cut a piece of thin cord for the center vertical cable. Tie it to the midpoint of one suspension cable. Loop it under the deck and up the other side; tie this to the midpoint of the other suspension cable so that the deck is supported.
5. Follow the same process as above, securing the vertical cables on either side of the center cable. Keep placing cables until they reach the towers and the deck is fully supported. Your child will need to tweak and adjust cord placement as she goes.
6. Have your kid test how much the bridge can hold—she’ll be amazed!
A is for Art: “Tie-Dye” Pillows
This project is a mini lesson in solubility (how much of a substance will dissolve in another substance). Ages 4+
Permanent marker (like a Sharpie) doesn’t wash away with water. However, the molecules in the ink are soluble in rubbing alcohol, so the ink spreads to make a pretty pattern. Have your kid draw with permanent markers on one side of a white polypropylene pillow insert (Inner cushions, $3 and up). Don’t forget to protect the work surface! The more ink she uses, the more the color will bleed. When she’s done drawing, have her use a medicine dropper to dribble alcohol onto the pillow and watch the magic happen. To finish, let it dry and run it through the dryer on high heat to seal in the design.
M is for Math: A Sand Pendulum
Create a pendulum, essentially a weight that hangs freely from a string (we used a sand-filled funnel). When you pull it away from its center point and let it go, it will swing back and forth until it reaches its resting point, or equilibrium. The sand trails left by your child’s pendulum are a visualization of the mathematical equation at work. Pendulums have been used in clocks, to keep time, for centuries. Ages 3+
What You'll Need: Yarn, scissors, sturdy rubber band, kitchen funnel, broomstick or dowel, poster paper (to catch the sand), craft sand.
What To Do:
1. Cut three lengths of yarn, each about 3’ long. Tie each piece to the rubber band, spacing them equally apart.
2. Slip the rubber band over the funnel so that it fits tightly under the lip.
3. Gather the strings above the funnel and tie them at the top so that the funnel hangs evenly.
4. Suspend the funnel from a broomstick or dowel (or just hold it). Place paper below to catch the sand.
5. Have your child fill the funnel with sand, blocking the small opening of the funnel with his finger as he fills it. Instruct him to remove his finger and give it a little push.
Curious Jane is an organization that runs workshops for girls that focus on science, design, and engineering. Learn more at CuriousJaneMagazine.com