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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).

10 ways to nurture children’s STEM skills this summer

10 ways to nurture children's STEM skills this summer

Here we are, just days into the holidays, a long summer with the family stretching out in front of you. One thought is beginning to weigh heavily on your mind: ‘How on earth am I going to keep my children entertained?’ It’s all very well leaving them to their own devices but it doesn’t take long before the novelty of lie-ins, endless screen time and lack of routine wears off and you hear them utter those dreaded words: ‘I’m bored!’

Keeping children amused in the holidays is a daunting prospect for many parents and keeping the cost down even more so. However, the summer holidays are a golden opportunity for children to explore, learn new skills and put their learning into a real-world context. What’s more, nurturing your child’s natural curiosity and creativity is an excellent way to broaden their horizons and shape their future aspirations.

Recent research by the charity Education and Employers shows that children form their perceptions about careers and jobs at an early age, developing their future ambitions from as young as seven. However, making a connection between primary school lessons and the jobs they might one day pursue is not easy. This research also shows that there is a major disconnect between the careers that primary-aged children are most interested in and those that the economy needs.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related industries are some of the fastest growing and demand for skilled workers is only set to grow. From robotics to caring for our environment, space exploration to the digital revolution, these disciplines have an impact that can already be seen in every aspect of our lives. Preparation for STEM careers is not just a matter of imparting hard knowledge, but nurturing ‘soft skills’ such as teamwork and problem solving. Fortunately, STEM activities and soft skills go hand-in-hand.

Here are ten quick, easy ways to nurture a love of STEM this summer. They won’t break the bank, and might just prevent those dreaded words… ‘I’m bored!’

Go on a nature walk

Nature walks are a fantastic way to unwind and appreciate the natural world outside. Spend time searching for minibeasts like beetles and ants in different habitats, using a magnifying glass to take a closer look. Alternatively, look for naturally occurring patterns, from the symmetry of a butterfly’s wings to the spirals in a snail’s shell or the tessellation in tree bark. The natural world is full of patterns!

blow some bubbles

Have a go at creating a 2D shape bubble wand by cutting straws into quarters and bending pipe cleaners through them to join the straw segments together. For more of a challenge, create a 3D shape bubble wand. Cubes and pyramid shapes work particularly well for this. Then dip your bubble wand into soapy water, take a good look at your bubble and then blow it away!

Enjoy a local adventure

Take a trip to a local museum or zoo. This is a great way to not only bring learning to life but also to meet experts in different fields. What’s more, many museums run free events and workshops for children throughout the summer holidays. Look up locations near you for more information.

Get puzzling

Play puzzles and games. Activities such as Sudoku and chess are great for developing logical thinking, an important skill in STEM subjects. Construction toys such as Lego help to develop spatial awareness. Anything involving dice is great for developing mathematical skills.

Make a stick raft

Challenge your child to create a raft out of natural materials. Sticks, joined together with twine are perfect for this and a leaf can make an excellent flag. Then test your raft in a bowl of water or stream to see if it floats!

Appreciate the night sky

Try your hand at a spot of stargazing on a clear evening. There are lots of free apps available for download to help you navigate the sky above you. For a closer look at the stars, locate a free star gazing event near you. The ‘Go Stargazing’ website is a great place to start.

Create a junk modelling masterpiece

It’s amazing what can be constructed out of the contents of a recycle bin. Cardboard tubes such as those found on kitchen and toilet roll can be taped to a wall to create a marble run. Vary the angles of the tubes to create different speeds of travel. Another idea could be to create a moving vehicle or boat out of junk modelling materials.

Fix something

Find out how things work. For example, try taking a simple mechanical toy apart and reassembling it again (steering clear of electrical items). As you do so, discuss the function of all the different parts.

Construct a newspaper tower

Challenge your child to create the tallest freestanding tower that they can out of newspaper. Sticky tape works best for joining the structure together. You could make this competitive by setting a timer to see who can build the tallest tower in the allotted time: you or your child?

Set off on a scavenger hunt

Give your child a list of ten things to find in the natural world. Ideas that work well are a list of colours, textures, shapes or smells. They can tick items off the list once found or even take a photo of them as evidence.

 

For each of these activities, you can discuss their relations to different sorts of jobs. For example, a newspaper tower could be connected to the role of a civil engineer or architect; the nature walk to the job of a biologist or forester; the junk modelling to the job of a design engineer. Plan these activities into your summer holidays and perhaps you might just plant some seeds for future ambitions in the process.

For more STEM activities and ideas, order your copy of 15-Minute STEM here.

15-minute STEM

The Big Blog of Seasonal STEM Books

If you’re looking for real world inspiration for your STEM activities then the seasons are a great place to start. We’ve recommended our favourite seasonal STEM books, dividing them between Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Within each category you will also find STEM books linked to seasonal events such as Easter, Halloween and Christmas. Our big blog enables you to look up books linked to the current season or plan your book order ready for the next one.

Click on each image to find out more about the book including the age recommendation, key concept and an Amazon link.

We’ll keep adding books to this blog as we come across them so do check back!

SPRING

SUMMER

AUTUMN

WINTER

Have we missed a great seasonal book? Comment below and we’ll add it on.

6 summery STEM books

Summer is truly upon us now and what better way to mark the season than with some summery STEM books! We’ve focused on texts that celebrate nature and have suggested activities linked to each book that will get children outside, exploring their surroundings. Enjoy!

6. Shaping up For Summer

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Maths in Nature is a lovely four book series, which explores seasonal and natural beauty through maths concepts, which are made engaging with energetic and colourful paper collage illustrations, poetic language and thoughtful questions. Each book also includes nature notes at the end, which give more information about the animals and plants featured in the seasonal scenes. Colourful, cut- paper collage art uniquely evokes the natural world, while two levels of text – one a lyrical story, the other asking children to problem-solve – bring the reader to a full understanding of the maths concept being covered. The engaging “What if?” format of these informational picture books is sure to delight five- to seven-year-olds.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES: This book is all about spotting the mathematics in nature so where better to start than by heading outside and looking for natural shapes. Provide each child with a table depicting each shape along the top and encourage them to draw or write down their findings for each shape.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

5. It Starts With A Seed

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: In gentle rhyme, It Starts with a Seed evocatively explores the growth of a tiny sycamore seed. Taking a journey through the seasons and years, we follow the seed as it transforms from a seedling to a sapling, then a young tree, until it becomes a large tree with its branches and roots filling the page. As the tree grows, it is joined by well-loved woodland creatures – squirrels and rabbits, butterflies and owls – who make it their home. Beautiful and evocative, It Starts with a Seed is a factual story that will touch children with its simple but enchanting message of life and growth. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES: Today we find the seed as a fully grown sycamore tree. Go outside and see what trees you can find in the school grounds. Then make your own paper spinning seed from a strip of paper! Check out our 15min STEM section to find out how.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

4. A Nest is Noisy

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: From the award-winning creators of An Egg Is Quiet, A Seed Is Sleepy, A Butterfly Is Patient, and A Rock Is Lively comes this gorgeous and informative look at the fascinating world of nests. From tiny bee hummingbird nests to orangutan nests high in the rainforest canopy, an incredible variety of nests are showcased here in all their splendor. Poetic in voice and elegant in design, this carefully researched book introduces children to a captivating array of nest facts and will spark the imaginations of children whether in a classroom reading circle or on a parent’s lap.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES: Start by discussing what animals build nests. Children may be surprised to know that it’s not just birds. For example, alligators and orangutans build nests too! Then go on a sound walk around your local area, recording the different noises that can be heard and looking for evidence of nests. Finally, create your own nests or bird boxes, gathering up natural materials to place inside them.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

3. Swirl By Swirl: Spirals in Nature

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: 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, Krommes and Sidman not only reveal the many spirals in nature – from fiddleheads to elephant tusks, from crashing waves to spiralling galaxies – but also celebrate the beauty and usefulness of this fascinating shape.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES: Create your own spirals outside using natural materials such as sticks and sand. Then think about what animals have spirals or are able to curl their bodies into spirals. Explore the outside area to see how many of these creatures spirals you can find.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

2. Wild Fibonacci

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34. . . Look carefully. Do you see the pattern? Each number above is the sum of the two numbers before it. Though most of us are unfamiliar with it, this numerical series, called the Fibonacci sequence, is part of a code that can be found everywhere in nature. Count the petals on a flower or the peas in a peapod. The numbers are all part of the Fibonacci sequence. In Wild Fibonacci, readers will discover this mysterious code in a special shape called an equiangular spiral. Why so special? It mysteriously appears in the natural world: a sundial shell curves to fit the spiral. So does a parrot’s beak. . . a hawk’s talon. . . a ram’s horn. . . even our own human teeth!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES: This book works well with older children who will be able to understand the pattern behind the fibonacci sequence. Once they have got this, encourage them to go outside and take pictures of natural objects that follow the fibonacci sequence such as flower petals and fir cones. Children could take this further, researching examples of this sequence in humans and animals.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

1. Bees, Snails and Peacock Tails

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: 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 Honour 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES: This book is a great introduction to shapes and symmetry in nature. Younger children will have fun spotting examples of this in their natural surroundings. Meanwhile older children may be able to make links between the amazing patterns in nature and the fibonacci code.

For Amazon.co.uk click here

For Amazon.com click here

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