STEAM activities is not a modern-day concept. Before we get into some creative STEAM activities for kids, let’s look at the history of STEAM activities.
Albert Einstein once said, “The greatest scientists are artists as well.” Einstein, himself, played violin and piano.
Like the renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci, who painted The Last Supper in 1498, many scientists were also accomplished artists.
Sir Frederick William Herschel was an astronomer and composer. Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, the existence of infrared radiation, and he wrote 24 symphonies.
Fast forward to today, and we find many ideas for blending art with our science in what we now call STEAM. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)
So, how do science and art blend? Both disciplines involve experimenting. Scientists use the scientific method to observe what will happen when variables are changed or kept the same. To create a new work, an artist may experiment with different media, lighting, color, etc.
Art experts also use scientific methods to authenticate paintings, determine the rate of deterioration, and identify the best ways to preserve a piece of art.
How Can We Give Our Children a STEAM & STEM Foundation?
STEM sounds almost intimidating, and many of us think “high level physics, advanced chemistry, computer programming”, which is part of STEAM and our children will need the academic foundation before they graduate high school, but in any STEM or STEAM career a person has to have the confidence to think creatively.
They need to know how to discover, ask questions, test ideas, and run with an idea. How to own that process of discovering. Because a big part of any STEM job is being able to problem solve–a lot of it is problem solving.
We say we want our children to be independent learners. Well, part of learning is having the confidence to test ideas and discover what happens.
So, that’s where we start – we need to provide a learning atmosphere that allows our children to ask questions and then discover the answers.
Plus, to plan STEM and STEAM activities for kids, we need to have a few supplies on hand.
STEAM Activities for Kids – Ideas for Supplies
We have always kept a stash of art supplies, recyclables containers, scrap wood, flattened shipping boxes of various sizes, old gears, bike chains, scrap PVC, and probably more things we didn’t need to keep!
We’ve used dedicated cabinets, old book cases, plastic storage bins, and an old dresser as storage.
STEAM activities for kids use supplies that fall into one of three categories: low-tech, medium-tech, and high tech.
- crayons, colored pencils, pencil sharpener
- craft sticks, wooden skewers, paint sticks, pompoms, foam pieces
- various types of paper – construction paper, scrapbooking paper (We use this to make pinwheels.)
- straws, pipe cleaners/chenille sticks, empty paper towl rolls
- glue gun, packing tape, masking tape, cellophane tape, electrical tape
- rubber bands, brads, string
- recyclables that are cleaned out – plastic bottles, cereal boxes, plastic containers with lids
- glow sticks, old toy cars
- pony beads
Medium-tech supplies include:
- phone camera and stop animation app or software
- computer and printer
- Easy robot kits, like Bristle Bot
- Building toys like Pix-Brix, K’Nex
- power tools
- Snap Circuits kit
- Basic clectric circuit kit, copper tape
High-tech supplies include:
- 3D printer
- glow forge
- more advanced robot kits – Lego 3V3
When planning a STEAM activities for kids, I like to incorporate a book of some sort, typically, I prefer biographies. However, for preschool-second grade, there are lots of STEM and STEAM-related picture books.