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What Makes a STEM Activity Great?

A successful activity sparks the imagination and gives kids creative skills they can use daily.

The right STEM activities possess a unique set of characteristics that help enhance the learning experience. If you’re looking for new ways to connect with your students, learning how Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math better them as individuals and scholars is key. The lessons that you teach to the kids you’re in charge of today can significantly benefit the world in the future as many young students grow up and work in positions where the skills come into play.

Characteristic #1: Real-world issues and challenges are emphasized.
Whatever is going on in society, the economy, and the environment is explored through STEM activities. Students learn how they can affect these areas positively.

Characteristic #2: The engineering design process guides the lesson being taught.
Children learn to identify problems as well as create and develop solutions. They get to experience big picture thinking and directly influence the outcome of a situation.

Characteristic #3: Students get to ask questions and get fully immersed in a hands-on experience.
Students collaborate to come up with the best solution. They get to see how things work personally by having a hand in the creative thought process.

Characteristic #4: Teamwork is key to the lesson’s success.
Kids work with their classmates to build upon one another’s unique ideas and skills. This facilitates faster and better solutions overall.

Characteristic #5: Students get to apply the math and science lessons they’ve already learned to the STEM activity.
Taking knowledge that they already possess, children get to apply it to STEM lessons. They see why the information was important in the first place.

Characteristic #6: There is no one right answer and failures are seen as yet another step to learning.
Kids learn that there are many outcomes with each lesson. They also learn to see failure as a part of the learning process.

Now that you know what characteristics make a STEM activity great, you’ll be better able to plan activities for your own classroom. You’ll be able to add value to your students’ day by sparking meaningful discussion following a successful science, technology, engineering, and math event. The skills that the kids in your class learn are ones they can use in everyday situations.

How Magnetic Slime Teaches Kids About Science

This fun STEM activity can be created in large batches for classroom settings.
If you want a STEM activity to do in the classroom that appeals to your students, don’t overlook slime. It’s pliable so it can be squished and stretched repeatedly. It can also be made to be magnetic which ties into your science lesson about polarity. This activity is one that can be done relatively inexpensively but it does require advanced preparation so make sure to allow enough time in the school day to prep materials.
Ingredients Needed to Make Slime
The ingredients needed to make slime include liquid starch, Elmer’s Glue, Iron Oxide, a neodymium disc magnet also known as a rare earth magnet, disposable mixing bowls, wooden popsicle sticks for stirring, and a box of plastic gloves to keep children’s hands clean and safe.

To prepare the slime for use, you’ll need to do the following things:
·      Take out the bowls and give each student one along with a pair of gloves and a popsicle stick. Pour the liquid starch into a bowl. You’ll want to use ¼ of a cup per student.
·      Add the iron powder. Two tablespoons are enough per bowl. Get the kids to put their gloves on so you’ll have less mess to clean. Then, have the children stir it until it is mixed with liquid starch.
·      Put the glue in and mix. Students will need ¼ a cup of white glue each. They’ll need to continue stirring it because at first, it won’t look like anything.
·      Take the slime out and continue squishing and mixing it. This is where the gloves help most. They’ll keep your students’ hands from being stained by the experiment.
·      Pat the slime dry. Then pull out the magnets and start experimenting with the creation.
If you’re concerned about expense, you could easily have children work in groups to reduce the number of supplies needed for the STEM project.
What Students Learn from Experiments Involving Magnets
Students learn a lot from magnets. By making the slime magnetic, you accomplish two things. You teach children how to create their own science experiments using common household items, and you provide them with memorable lessons that they can share with others.

Slime is wildly popular among elementary-aged students and pre-teens. It’s easy to make and is magnetic when made according to the recipe featured on the Frugal Fun 4 Boys website. Although the recipe is intended to be made in small batches, it can easily be adapted to fit your unique classroom’s needs.