5 Groovy Fall-Related STEM Projects

Crisp cool weather, spice-scented rooms, and fun fall-related activities are a sure sign of autumn.  Check out these five groovy STEM-related projects to kick off the start of your STEMist’s fall season.

5 Groovy Fall-Related STEM Projects

#1. Pumpkin Math

There are numerous activities that STEMists can do to hone their math skills.  STEMists can use estimation to compare pumpkins by weight.

  1. Gather three pumpkins that vary in size
  2. Lift each pumpkin and estimate the weight.
  3. Weigh the pumpkins on a balance.
  4. Record the actual measurements in a table.
  5. Graph the estimated weight versus the actual weight.

Are the estimated weights close to the actual weights of the three pumpkins?

Other groovy ways to build math skills with pumpkins: Measure the circumferences and compare them to the weights of the pumpkins.

#2. Metric Fun with Apple Crisp

Following directions to make a recipe is a tasty way to learn about units of measurement.

Metric Fun with Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp Ingredients – below the units of measure are given in both the Metric System (groovier) and the Imperial System.

      • 4 medium-sized apples, thinly sliced
      • 118 grams (1/2 cup) packed dark brown sugar
      • 30 mL (2 tablespoons) lemon juice
      • 80 grams (1 cup) Quick Oats
      • 188 grams (1 ½ cups) flour
      • 150 grams (3/4 cups) sugar
      • 2.84 grams (1/2 teaspoon) salt
      • 113 grams (1/4 lb. – 1 stick) butter, cold and sliced
      • 2.6 grams (1 teaspoon) cinnamon
      • 1.95 grams (3/4 teaspoon) nutmeg
  1. Mix apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice and arrange in a shallow baking dish.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, make a mixture of oats, sugar, flour and salt. Add cold butter slices and stir with a fork or use your hands to create a groovy crumb topping.
  3. Drop the mixture over apples in the baking dish. Melt a small amount of butter, then drizzle over the top. Sprinkle cinnamon evenly over the top.
  4. Bake the apple crisp in a 175 ºC (350 °F ) oven for 35 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown.
  5. Serve warm and top it off with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, for a groovy fall treat.

Did You Know…According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, there are three countries which have yet to adopt the International System of Units (SI/metric system) as their official system of weights and measures in the entire world!  They are: Burma, Liberia, and the US. It’s important to remember, STEMists always use the metric system when doing STEM! 

Countries that have yet to adopt the metric system: Burma, Liberia, and the US

Countries that have yet to adopt the metric system: Burma, Liberia, and the US

For more measurement fun, have your STEMist convert other imperial units to the metric system here.

#3. Impressionable Leaves T-shirt

Materials:

      • T-shirt (any type, any color but white)
      • Small spray bottle
      • Bleach
      • Water
      • 2 tall buckets (tall to avoid splash)
      • Piece of large cardboard
      • Leaves

Procedure:

  1. Collect different leaves from a nature walk, or your own backyard. 2.
  2. Discuss the various leaves you and your STEMists collect, acknowledging their color-changing properties that occur during the fall season.
  3. Fill a bucket with some cold water (approximately 1/4 full), enough to rinse a T-shirt.
  4. Place a piece of cardboard inside your T-shirt and lay on a flat surface.  Then place your leaves on the T-shirt to create an artistic design.
  5. With the help from a groovy grown-up while using bleach, spray a solution of 3-part water, 1-part bleach over leaves; spray enough to lightly saturate the design.
  6. Let the bleach solution set for a few minutes, then carefully lift leaves from the shirt. Note the pigment change of the T-shirt from the bleach solution.
  7. Hand rinse in a bucket of water, and then soak the shirt in your second bucket of water for approximately 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the shirt from the bucket and squeeze out the water.
  9. Use a laundry dryer on a hot setting to dry your t-shirt. Then, wear your T-shirt design proudly!

GROOVY NON-BLEACH OPTION: Instead of bleach, use fabric paints and markers, and have your STEMists trace the leave onto the T-shirt.

#4. Flying Ghost Rockets

STEMists will love this groovy activity from Growing a Jeweled Rose blog that demonstrates science at its finest.

Flying Ghost Rockets

Materials:

      • Safety goggles (can be found at any hardware store.)
      • Film canister(s)
      • Corn starch
      • Water
      • Black marker
      • Alka Seltzer
      • Stir stick

Procedure:

  1. Place canister(s) top down.
  2. Use the marker to draw two eyes and a nose on the canister to make a face for your ghost.
  3. Remove cap and fill canister 1/3 full of water, add corn starch and stir.
  4. Break the Alka Seltzer and drop a piece into the canister.
  5. Quickly put the lid on, flip the canister upside down onto the pavement and move out of the way.

STEMists can watch science in action as the ghost launches into the sky!

#5. The Vampire Population

In celebration of Halloweens’ cast of characters, check out Do Vampires Really Exist?, a math and social sciences activity created by Microsoft.  In this activity, students work with an Excel spreadsheet template to determine the vampire population over a period of time, considering the legend that vampires bite, in relation to the current human population.

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For more groovy educational activities, check out the Groovy Lab in a Box monthly subscription Your STEMists will receive boxes full of everything you need to learn about and do hands on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) experiments.