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A-Z of STEM Resources

When you think STEM education, what kind of resources come to mind? The chances are it’s this kind of equipment…

Expensive stuff basically! Granted, this kind of kit is amazing and you can do some fantastic STEM activities with it. But don’t be disheartened if you don’t have access to these kinds of resources.

STEM doesn’t have to blow the budget.

It can also look like this…

The kind of stuff we have lying around our homes and classrooms. The kind of stuff that fills up our recycle bins and the kind of stuff that we’re turning to particularly at the moment, when it’s harder to get to the shops.

So here’s my A-Z of everyday ‘must-have’ STEM resources, along with some tips and activity suggestions for each!

A4 paper

From recording your observations to creating the longest paper chain you can from just one piece of A4 paper, this is a staple resource for most STEM activities.

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No matter how good you are at re-using carrier bags, it’s hard to avoid having a few single-use bags lurking around. Re-use them for egg parachutes or create a kite or a windsock.

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This is my absolute top recommendation. Cardboard has so much play potential! Don’t believe me? Check out the book ‘Not A Box’ for inspiration. You never know when a few flat-packed boxes will come in handy!

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Wooden dowel or sticks collected from the natural environment can become valuable building tools. For example, they could form the mast of a boat or the chassis of a car.

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  • Recycled Boats

Elastic bands are a useful way to create flexible joins between materials. A great example is a lolly stick catapult. Safety note: this resource requires supervision.

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…because you’ve got to make your STEM project look good! Beyond the aesthetics, felt tips are an important resource for chromatography based STEM activities.

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Give them a wash and these jars can be transformed into all sorts of exciting STEM projects. Safety note: this resource requires supervision.

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Place an outdoor hula hoop on the ground outside and use a magnifying glass to explore the minibeasts within the hoop. Or use string to turn your hula hoop into a spiders web!

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Ice cubes are a very cheap resource that can be used for a range of activities. Use them to explore properties of materials or to test thermal insulators.

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Not only is this resource a lot of fun, you can use it to explore some important real-world scenarios. For example, ’15-Minute STEM’ Book 2 contains a jelly based activity called ‘Earthquake-Proof Structures’.

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(Computer) keyboards are central to developing technology skills in young people. We can use them to code, research, create design simulations… so many options!

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Lolly sticks form a great building material for lots of different projects. For example, you could use them to build bridges, create catapults or to design a marble maze.

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This is one of my ‘must-have’ resources for outdoor, nature based activities. It’s fascinating to take a closer look at the world around us and the plants and creatures within it.

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From paper mache volcanoes to newspaper towers, this cheap, easy-to-source resource is worth having in abundance. For more details about the ‘newspaper towers’ activity, see ’15-Minute STEM’ Book 1.

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Adding olive oil to water creates some interesting results which can be used as a starting point to exploring density. Drop in an alka-seltzer tablet and you’ve got yourself a lava lamp effect!

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 I don’t know about you but these kinds of things often scream ‘stem potential’ to me. For example, a plastic tub lends itself brilliantly to becoming a plastic recycled boat. Note: re-use plastic rather than buying it specifically for an activity.

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  • Recycled Boats

Can you tell I was struggling with the letter ‘q’?! Quarters (or coins) can be used in a variety of ways. Explore chemical reactions by adding acidic liquids to dirty coins. Or use coins as weights in a tin foil cargo boat.

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Natural materials such as rocks are fun to collect and can be used in a variety of ways. See how many different ways you can sort them or use them as the hour markers on a homemade sundial.

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This simple ingredient makes a great building material. You can use it to create structures such as towers or pyramids. Use marshmallows, plasticine or gummy sweets to create the joins between the spaghetti strands.

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A measuring tape comes in handy for most STEM activities and is a great way to develop some measuring skills.

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Utensils: measuring jugs, cups, bowls, spoons etc. These kinds of household items come in handy again and again for STEM activities.

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This acidic substance creates interesting chemical reactions when added to a base such as baking soda. See an example of this in the ‘Volcanic Eruptions’ activity in ’15-Minute STEM’ Book 2

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A staple household item, adding a squirt of washing liquid to another liquid such as milk or water breaks the surface tension and creates some interesting results.

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Again, can you tell I was struggling with this one?! Forgive me the slightly tenuous link to electrical circuits… Having a simple electrical kit of lightbulbs, crocodile clip wires and a battery is a useful basis for many STEM projects.

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From the ‘speakers’ of a string telephone to the container of a salt pendulum, yoghurt pots can take on many different creative forms.

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And finally we’ve made it to the letter ‘Z’. Zips can be sewn or glued into your STEM creations to add interest and functionality.

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Summer STEM Guide

Welcome to the Summer edition of our seasonal STEM guides! It contains:

  • STEM related summer events and themed days/weeks
  • Quick, easy website and activity suggestions for how to get involved (click on the pictures to find out more)
  • Summery STEM resource recommendations

Diaries at the ready! The events listed below are a really good way to help theme your STEM activities and help children to make real-world links. We anticipate lots of outdoor, nature-themed STEM activities over the next few months while the weather is mild and the natural world is alive with colour and activity.

30 Days Wild (throughout June)

This annual nature challenge is organised by the Wildlife Trust. They want you to do one wild thing a day throughout the whole month: for your health, wellbeing and for the planet. That’s 30 simple, fun and exciting Random Acts of Wildness.

How to get involved…

National Dinosaur Day (1st June)

National Dinosaur Day takes place on both the 15th May and the 1st June. It’s a great one for any budding young palaeontologists! Celebrate all things dinosaur by finding out some cool dinosaur facts and taking part in some dinosaur activities.

How to get involved…

World Environment Day (5th June)

World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June every year, and is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Learn how all living things on Earth are connected in the web of life and how we can act for nature.

How to get involved…

World Oceans Day (8th June)

On World Oceans Day, people around our blue planet celebrate and honour the ocean, which connects us all. By working together, we can — and will — protect and restore our shared ocean. Join this growing global celebration on 8 June with continuing engagement year-round! To view the education resources on the World Oceans Day website click here.

How to get involved…

Women in Engineering Day (23rd June)

The 23rd of June celebrates the outstanding achievements of women engineers throughout the world. It is is an international awareness campaign which raises the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry.

How to get involved…

The Big Butterfly Count (17th July – 9th August)

The big butterfly count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world’s biggest survey of butterflies. Over 113,500 people took part in 2019, submitting 116,009 counts of butterflies and day-flying moths from across the UK.

How to get involved…

National Marine Week (25th July – 9th August)

This event is the Wildlife Trusts’ celebration of all things marine. Despite the name, it lasts 15 fun-filled days to allow for the variation in tide times around the country. During this time, Wildlife Trusts all around the UK put on a jam-packed programme of events and activities.

How to get involved…

Summer STEM Resource Recommendations

Here are a few of our ‘must have’ summer STEM resources. We think you’ll come back to them year after year with your children! Click on each picture to view it on Amazon.

Have we missed off a summer STEM event or a ‘must have’ summer STEM resource? If so then add it to the comments below. (note: this is a UK based website so some events have a UK focus).

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