Virtual Parent Workshop: Inexpensive and Fun STEM Activities

Access the video from our workshop and some highlights from the Q&A!

Thank you to everyone who tuned in to our first virtual Parent and Educator Program! We hope that you learned something from following along with our demos and are ready to some yourself. You can download the video here. If you are looking for more resources, we have a curated list of some of our favorite videos, activities, and more here

For everyone just tuning in, we’ve included answers to some of the questions that showed up in the chat during the call for anyone else who might have the same question! We’ve included some helpful suggestions from the attendees, as well.

Questions about specific resources

Do you know a good online resource for a middle school student to learn how to use an Arduino?

We highly recommend the the adafruit site that one of the participants mentioned. The SpinWheel is also programmed using the Arduino interface, so is another way to learn.

What are some great outside STEM activities?

We highly recommend anything that involves exploring and discovering the world outside, some great suggestions from our workshop include:

  • Look for tiny bugs and other living things with a magnifying glass
  • Press leaves and flowers onto white fabric to create STEM related art
  • Journal what you see over the coming days and weeks!
  • Take a cutting from a plant, put it in water using a CD to hold it up, and watch the roots grow over a few weeks.

What about if I live in a city?

One option is to grow things in a window. For instance, one of our participants suggested growing scallions, onions, and other veg with roots that you may have left over from cooking. If you have access to a park, then you can also do most of the activities listed above!

And definitely keep in mind this piece of advice from our audience!

Some of the most important things to do with any of these activities is to have kids write down a prediction (and why they think their prediction is true) then have them try to figure out the “Why” of the results. If kids are trying to explain what’s happening (writing, talking, drawing), that’s where the learning takes place.

Questions about the particular demos we chose

We chose these to illustrate some of the questions that were sparked during our demos. The specific details here are not important for the overall goal of finding great STEM activities, rather they are just a reminder of how everything can be questioned.

Why doesn’t the dirt just sink in the dish soap and pepper demo?

The dirt floats because it is less dense than the water. The soap pushes the dirt away and the water keeps holding it up.

What is the difference between different soaps (dish soap vs hand soap, for instance)?

In short, while all soaps contain some sort of detergent, the type various depending on the use. For a great discussion of this, check out this NPR feature

If you have more questions, contact us at or ask a question on our facebook page. We’ll do what we can to help!

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