Holiday STEM Projects for All Ages

ornament in black and whiteEspecially for kids or parents with school-age children, the holidays bring a relaxing break from the usual hustle and bustle of the academic year. Holiday movies, outdoor activities, and time with family and friends are often on the docket when it finally comes time to take a break. However, after the presents are unwrapped and the delicious food has been eaten, there’s sometimes a lull, and maybe even boredom!

If you’re looking to fill a few hours or just complete a fun family project, we rounded up a few ideas to toss some STEM skills into the mix—after all, learning never stops! Other games are fun too, but it’s sometimes nice to complete a project with others or produce something that you can be proud of, while picking up valuable skillsets along the way.

So whether you’re an adult working on a new skill, a family looking for some winter break activities, or a kid looking to hone skills that will come in handy when chemistry starts up again in January, here are a few STEM activities that will catch your attention and keep it.

Baking Soda Science: This “Christmas Tree Baking Soda Science Sensory Play” experience is designed to use everyday supplies to get kids talking and thinking about how they can experiment with different materials. All you’ll need is paper plates, baking soda, vinegar, water, and sequins (food coloring, squirt bottle, and bowl and spoon optional). Once you make the baking soda trees, use vinegar to dissolve them! Game creator Sarah says that she and her child “talked about the senses, feeling the cold vinegar water and the fizziness from the gas that was created on our fingers. We also experimented with stirring it to see if we could make it fizz more!”

3D Print Ornaments: Christmas has come and gone, but if you still have some free time and like to plan ahead, Thingverse has designs for hundreds of ornaments that you can download and 3D print at your local library, school, or at home! We love this Snowflake Ornament that you can decorate further with gold sharpie for extra bling, this funny DIY ornament from Papa John’s that’s either a pizza slice shaped like a tree or vice versa, and this funny design for a family truckster.

3D Printing Workshop: The holidays are an important time for many maker spaces to showcase what they have to offer to the general public. For example, the Nebraska Innovation Studio hosted a gathering just last week to show kids and adults fun activities at the Holiday Maker Extravaganza! There was button and ornament making, along with other fun tours of the facilities. Check out the programming at your local library or other local maker spaces to see if they are hosting any fun workshops or tutorials over the break!

No matter which activity you decide to do, take advantage of the free time to both rejuvenate and prepare for 2016. Especially for manufacturing, 2016 is going to be an incredibly important year, and we look forward to seeing where it will take our technology, science, engineering, and more. If there are any fun holiday STEM projects we missed, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the section below!

photo credit: still waiting for the epiphany (11087 B&W) via photopin (license)