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Summer STEM Ideas

Summer STEM Ideas

The days are getting lighter, the weather is getting warmer: Summer has finally arrived! Here are 4 Summer STEM activities and 4 Summer STEM books to keep you busy over the next few months.

4 Summer STEM activities

Shadows and Sundials

How did people tell the time before clocks?

All you need are twelve rocks and a stick! Begin at midday, placing the stick in the middle of your sundial and a rock to represent 12 o clock. Return each hour to place a new rock. Children will be able to investigate how the length of the shadow changes throughout the day and will enjoy using their clock to tell the time.

Bottle Rockets

How do rockets launch all the way into space?

Gather together a bottle, a cork, baking soda and vinegar. First decorate your bottle, ready for its launch. Then place baking soda and vinegar inside, stand well back and watch the launch! I recommend wrapping the baking soda in a small piece of paper towel to delay the launch long enough for you to get safely out the way. Then investigate how real life rocks launch all the way into space.

Animal Safari Walk

How do animals protect themselves from predators?

Create pipe cleaner animals. Some will need to be camouflaged to the environment you are hiding them in while others must stand out. Then challenge the children to find them all. What did they notice? Discuss how some animals use colour as a defence against predators. Extremely obvious colourations such as the red of a ladybird are called ‘warning colourations’. Hoverfly avoid predation by mimicking more dangerous animals such as a bee. Other animals blend into their surroundings using ‘camouflage’ to avoid predation. Research animals from other countries with warning colours such as poisoned dart frogs or skunks.

Tissue Paper Hot Air Balloons

How do hot air balloons fly?

Create a hot air balloon envelope out of tissue paper. Glue the pieces together and then hold over a hair dryer. Observe the gases keeping your balloon afloat in the air. Does your balloon fly better if the envelope is bigger or smaller? Further areas to investigate include forces, gravity, flight and density.

4 Summer STEM books

How to Code a Sandcastle

Pearl and her trusty rust-proof robot, Pascal, need to build a sandcastle before summer vacation is over, and they’re going to do it using code. Pearl breaks the big we-need-a-sandcastle problem into smaller steps, then uses sequences, loops, and other basic coding concepts to tell Pascal exactly what to do. There are a lot of humorous mishaps along the way, but just when it looks like the sandcastle might never get built, Pearl uses her coding skills to save the day and create something even better: a gorgeous sandcastle kingdom! Click here to purchase from

Swirl by Swirl

What makes the tiny snail shell so beautiful? Why does that shape occur in nature over and over again–in rushing rivers, in a flower bud, even inside your ear? With simplicity and grace, Sidman and Krommes not only reveal the many spirals in nature–from fiddleheads to elephant tusks, from crashing waves to spiraling galaxies–but also celebrate the beauty and usefulness of this fascinating shape. Click here to purchase from

Shaping up Summer

As young readers journey into the natural world, they will discover that numbers, patterns, shapes and much more can be found in everyday plants and animals. What if animals and plants knew maths, just like us? Would spiders draw pictures in their webs? Would narwhals sort blocks of ice by shape? Would insects know what’s above and what’s below? In Shaping Up Summer, the final title in the Maths in Nature series, nature comes to life to help children grasp concepts of geometry, symmetry, and spatial sense. Click here to purchase from

Bees, Snails and Peacock Tails

Come explore the hidden shapes and patterns in nature. The peacock’s flashy tail is a masterpiece of colour and shape. A buzzing beehive is built of tiny hexagons. Even a snake’s skin is patterned with diamonds. Poet Betsy Franco and Caldecott Honor winner Steve Jenkins bring geometry to life in this lively, lyrical look at the shapes and patterns that can be found in the most unexpected places. Click here to purchase from

Share your Summer STEM ideas and experiences in the comments below or by getting in touch on twitter @howtostem.

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