Five Easy Activities to Support Project-Based STEM Learning with Resources from Science Fair Central 

As districts around the country begin to consider the specifics of back-to-school, it’s a great time to explore grab-and-go hands-on STEM projects that can be easily assigned to students whether they are in the classroom or learning virtually. Science Fair Central, developed in partnership with The Home Depot, features an entire portfolio of STEM projects to help students learn by doing! 

 The Maker Corner provides NGSS standards-aligned activities designed to encourage exploration and spark curiosity.  Check a few of our favorite activities below: 

 1. The Power of the Sun, Grades 6-8 

In this activity, students will learn about thermal energy and heat transfer by designing, creating, and testing a solar cooker. After considering how their solar cooker could help developing countries around the world, they will then be challenged to refine their designs in a way that could benefit people in these areas. This activity correlates to four out of the five stages of the Engineering Design Cycle and provides career connections several types of engineering careers. 

2. Destination: Space, Grades 6-8 

In an age when the possibility of living in space is becoming more and more of a reality, students will learn about the moon’s unique conditions in order to design a prototype of a lunar base. Students will perform research to help them understand how to overcome the obstacles that the moon’s surface provides. They will then use their research to build a prototype of a lunar outpost that uses resources wisely. Through this activity students are able to make connections between the increased interest in space travel among average people and the challenges that come with space exploration that must be solved. 

 3. “Up-Cycled” Lamp, Grades 6-8 

This activity focuses on the creating/prototyping and refining/ improving stages of the engineering design cycle. Students will create their own unique “upcycled” pendant lamp, and in doing so, will refine and improve the design by using recycled materials. This simple activity can be used as a catalyst for starting a conversation about the role students can play in helping to prevent recyclables from ending up in landfills. 

 4. Urban Planning for Our Community, Grades 9-12 

Give students a first-hand glimpse into a career as an urban planner with this critical thinking activity. After learning about the role of urban planners and the importance of planning when it comes to public and environmental health, students will examine a location in their community using mapping technology. They will propose how to improve upon this area’s design, and they will create a 3D model of this location with the improvement included. 

5. Protecting Our Pollinators, Grades 9-12 

In this lesson, students will learn about the ecological importance of species that pollinate flowers, such as birds and insects. Students will work to design a unique habitat that would attract these pollinators based on their specific needs. They will also build a product for their habitat that would fit into their design to help pollinators survive and thrive. 

Science Fair Central also features family activities that caregivers can do with homebound learners, and a searchable database of scientific and engineering projects that students can browse on their own. You can even complement Science Fair Central activities with more hands-on STEM explorations from The Home Depot! Check out Activities for Kids, learn to make a Solar Oven and plant your own Herb Garden! No matter the learning environment, project-based learning opportunities are key to keeping students engaged in STEM! 

These grab-and-go projects are also available on the Science Fair Central Channel in Discovery Education Experience!