Autumn S.T.E.A.M, An Educational Trend

Easily done at home

by Parents and Kids | Mon, October 23, 2017

By Connor Bell

For those of you who don’t know, S.T.E.A.M. (or S.T.E.M. as it’s more widely recognized) is a hands-on approach to learning that is sweeping the globe and being used in many different schools and institutions worldwide. S.T.E.A.M. makes use of a variety of different subjects to provide students with a multifaceted method of exploration using Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math.

We decided to delve into this educational trend and offer you up some ideas to try at home.

Science: Fall Oobleck

Oobleck

The amazing thing about Oobleck is that it will act as a liquid when held loosely in your hand, yet miraculously transforms into a solid when moved quickly or hit firmly. You can form your Oobleck into a ball in your hands then watch in amazement as it turns to liquid when you drop it on the table. Be warned parents, this one is messy!

What you'll need:

  • Cornstarch
  • Water
  • Orange food coloring for a fall flair

What next?

1. Simply add one cup of cornstarch to a large bowl (big enough for your kids to get their hands in and play around). 

2. Stir a few drops of food coloring into a ½ cup of water (make sure the color is vibrant!)

3. Slowly add the water to the cornstarch and stir. The mixture should be goopy, not watery. Play with your measurements until you can grab clumps of Oobleck from the bowl.

Encourage the kids to experiment with hard/soft, fast/slow movements. 

Technology: Spooky Shadow Puppets

Shadow Puppets

Get into the Halloween spirit with a spooky shadow puppet play. Turn out the lights, place a lamp on the floor and let the little ones go nuts with simple paper puppets and their wild imaginations.

What you’ll need:

  • A few puppet templates (bats, cats, ghosts, pumpkins or vampires)
  • Thick cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Chopsticks
  • Tape
  • High powered lamp or light

What next?

1. Cut out the shapes/templates from cardstock.

2. Tape chopsticks to the back of each puppet.

3. Turn off the household lights and on the high powered lamp. Make sure it is directed at the wall. 

4. Allow the children to play, act and imagine with their puppets. Take turns telling spooky stories or acting out scary movies the little ones have seen.

Engineering: Apple Jenga

Apple Jenga

This is a fantastic skill-testing activity that will challenge your child’s creativity and understanding of simple structures.

What you will need:

  • Jenga blocks (can be purchased on baopals.com)
  • 1 apple

What next?

1. Instruct your child to build a simple tall tower out of Jenga blocks. The tower must be able to support an apple at the top.

2. Change course and have the kids build a tower where the apple can be placed inside and covered once again at the top.

3. For further extension, set up the blocks as a normal Jenga game. Place the apple on the top and continue with regular Jenga rules. The person who causes the apple to fall loses!

Arts: Leaf Paintings

Autumn Leaves

This art activity is really simple, but it’s a great excuse to go outside, collect pretty leaves and bask in all those lovely fall feels!

What you will need:

  • Red, yellow & orange paint
  • A variety of leaves collected from outside
  • White card
  • Paintbrush
  • Tape

What next?

1. Tape the leaves to the card in a random pattern.

2. Using the paintbrush (or your hands) paint along the outside of the leaves. For more drama, instruct the kids to paint broad strokes from the inside of each leaf extending to the outer edges of the paper, creating a leaf silhouette. 

3. Let dry and then carefully remove the leaves. 

4. Hang that wonderful piece of artwork for all to see!

Get the kids using their math brain and measuring out all of the ingredients for this recipe. For an extra challenge, have them weigh and convert the ingredients from pounds and kilograms. 

Maths: Pumpkin Spiced Playdough

Pumpkin Carving

Get the kids using their math brain and measuring out all of the ingredients for this recipe. For an extra challenge, have them weigh and convert the ingredients from pounds and kilograms. 

What you will need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup salt                    
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar (can be found on baopals.com)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice (mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves)
  • Red, yellow, orange & brown food colouring (all the colours of autumn!)

What next?

1. Combine all ingredients except the food coloring in a large oven pot.

2. Stir ingredients over medium heat until a ball forms – it should not be sticky.

3. Allow the dough to cool enough to knead by hand.

4. Divide the dough into different sections and work the food coloring in, using a few drops at a time.

5. Enjoy creating some amazing playdough models!

 

Want to know more about S.T.E.A.M? Read Integrating the Arts with STEM, and find out about those working in education and technology who are now striving to include the arts in this grouping, advocating for an interdisciplinary and inclusive approach to quantitative subject matter.