Seven activities to inspire STEM learning

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STEM children’s publisher, QuestFriendz, have put together seven practical and fun STEM activities for GFS, that parents can use to help inspire children to love STEM learning and provide memorable experiences that ignite their curiosity.

Supporting girls to develop STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) skills, including critical thinking and computational skills has never been more important. As technology continues to evolve and changes the work landscape, it’s imperative that ALL children are provided with opportunities to develop core skills in these key areas.

The UK remains one of the worst regions in Europe when it comes to encouraging women into STEM roles. Currently,

SuperQuesters STEM book - credit QuestFriendz
SuperQuesters STEM book – credit QuestFriendz

only 24% of UK STEM roles are held by women (source: Wise).

One third of parents and teachers inaccurately perceive STEM discipline as more closely fitting boys’ brains, personalities and hobbies (source: Accenture Girls in STEM 2017 report) and even children as young as six can develop ideas that girls don’t like computer science and engineering as much as boys (source: PNAS Scientific Journal).

QuestFriendz is on a mission to embolden ALL children, and especially girls, to become super problem-solvers and curious creators through STEM adventures.  Not only do STEM skills equip children with a transferrable skillset, but they also help them to develop a love of learning and a sense of curiosity, promoting self-esteem as children learn how to problem-solve and view failure as part of the learning process.

Activities For 5–8 Year-Olds

Coding Unplugged

What you need: A4 paper, pens, two toys

Activity: Draw a 5×5 square grid on the paper. Place a toy in an ‘end’ square and one in a ‘start’ square on the grid. Children then write an algorithm  (a sequence of steps) for the ‘start’ toy to follow to reach the ‘end’ toy. For younger children, give them some arrow cards (simple arrows drawn on small pieces of paper) to place directly on the grid. Older children can write the algorithm on a separate strip of paper. You can extend the activity by placing objects in the way that have to be avoided.

Make Your Own Puzzle

What you need: Paper, pens, scissors

Activity: Children draw a picture on the paper and then draw puzzle outlines over the top, which they then cut out to form the puzzle pieces. Swap with a friend or family member to solve each other’s puzzle. Simplify by providing children with an existing picture for them to draw and cut out simple straight lines to create the puzzle pieces.

Freezing And Melting Toy Activity

What you need: Ice tray, food colouring, toys, water

Activity: Fill the ice tray with water, mixing in different food colouring colours. Add a toy in each compartment and freeze overnight. Once frozen, remove the ice blocks and then children explore how to remove the toys from the ice using water at different temperatures. They can experiment further by trying to melt some ice blocks using salt or sugar. Make predictions and test.

Activities For 8–12 Year-Olds

Cloud In a Jar

What you need: Jar with a lid, cup of hot water, ice and hairspray

Activity: Pour hot (not boiling) water into the jar and swirl it around. Place the lid upside down on top of the jar, with the ice cubes on top and leave for 20 seconds. Quickly, remove the lid and spray some hairspray inside the jar. Cover it with the lid and ice again quickly. A cloud will begin to form inside the jar. Once the jar is filled, remove the lid and watch the cloud escape!

Paper Roller Coaster

What you need: Paper, cardboard, toilet paper rolls, scissors, ruler, tape and a marble.

Activity: Children design a plan of a roller coaster, making sure it starts at the top of a hill. Use cardboard for the base, toilet paper rolls for the posts and create individual segments using strips of paper that are taped together. Children can experiment with different segment shapes and designs. Place the marble at the top and test out the roller coaster!

Design A Physical or Online Game

What you need: (physical game) cardboard, scissors, dice. (online game) free online coding website. Some websites to try include: Code Combat, Codewars

Activity: Create your own game. Start by brainstorming game objectives, number of players, characters. Decide on physical or online format. Design and build your game including a set of rules. Online game design provides a great opportunity to learn how to code. The websites offer different coding languages to choose from, as well as letting coders share their video games with others.

These activities are from “SuperQuesters: The Case of the Stolen Sun” by STEM experts Dr Thomas Bernard and Lisa Moss (illustrated by Amy Willcox).

Join the SuperQuesters on an adventure to discover what makes things go up! Along the way, your child will complete eight STEM quests, developing key STEM skills in fun, interactive games, with the reusable stickers. Available to purchase in paperback on 3 May from QuestFriendz. For further fun SuperQuesters’ activities, visit the publisher’s website

Image from the book featuring children looking at a treasure map.
Image credit: Amy Wilcox @QuestFriendz


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