4 Activities To Beat Summertime Boredom

The academic year is coming to an end.  Some children will head to summer camp; others will stay at home.  Whatever your STEMists are scheduled to do this summer, you should be well prepared for the time when you hear, “Mom, I’m bored!”  Here are four go-to activities when you hear these words.

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Make a Lava Bottle

Kids of all ages will love to watch the mixing of colors and the reaction caused by an Alka-Seltzer effervescent tablet.  And, this is a great time to explain why oil and water don’t mix.

You can discuss with your STEMists that the force of attraction between similar versus different molecules will create a different reaction.  Other concepts to define include mass, density and volume.

Lava bottle ingredients:

  • Baby oil
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Alka Seltzer or other effervescent tablet
  • Clear plastic or glass bottle

Fill 1/8 of bottle with water and the remainder with oil. Watch as the oil and water separate. Slowly add several drops of food coloring.  The drops pool together where the water and oil meet.  Ball bursts will form and gradually mix with water.  Add pieces of one Alka Seltzer tablet and enjoy the show!  Your STEMists can enjoy this for days—adding the Alka Seltzer anytime they wish to watch the magic in the bottle.  And, place the bottle in front of a small night light to get the full lava lamp experience!

Fun with a Balloon Hovercraft

Items you will need:

  • Balloon, any color
  • CD
  • Push-up water bottle top
  • Superglue

First, superglue the push-up water bottle top to the center of the CD. Let the glue dry.  Then, blow up a balloon and place it over the bottle top, which should be in the closed position.  Release the balloon and open the bottle top valve to watch the escaped air push your creation, causing it to hover over the floor (does not work on carpet). This activity will keep competitive siblings or neighborhood friends busy for hours while they race their homemade hover crafts.

TheTouchTomorrow Event

Jump in the car and head over to the TouchTomorrow – A Festival of Science, Technology & Robots for family fun! The TouchTomorrow event is held in Worcester Massachusetts from June 9-14.  This free event is hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in partnership with NASA.   TouchTomorrow – A Festival of Science, Technology & Robots is a celebration of the NASA Sample Return Robot Challenge.  The family-friendly event offers demonstrations, performances, hands-on activities and interactive exhibits for all ages.  The festival, held on the WPI campus, promises to be the highlight of your STEMists’ summer.

Be sure to check the TouchTomorrow website for an event schedule.  Spectators can watch teams compete through the various levels of the robot challenge.  The objective of the Sample Return Robot Challenge is to develop new technologies or apply existing technologies in unique ways to create robots that can autonomously seek out samples and return to a designated point in a set time period.  Your STEMists will be delighted to see team robots navigate over unknown terrain, around obstacles, and in varied lighting conditions to identify, retrieve, and return samples. Remember, all TouchTomorrow exhibits are free and open to the public – rain or shine.

Don’t Forget Groovy Lab in a Box

Another way to keep your young STEMists busy is to break out Groovy Lab in a Box.  You can order a subscription or single boxes anytime during the summer. Each box can accommodate up to four children for fun learning. Your STEMists can build an electric dance pad, launch a rocket, grow plants and much more.

Summertime does not have to equal boredom. With these STEM-related activites, your STEMists will have a blast being entertained my math, technology, engineering and science this summer!