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Kids love to create, and summer is a perfect time to work on all those fun STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math) projects you haven’t had time for during the busy school year. These STEM activities can also help prevent the summer slide and keep your kids learning during the summer. STEM projects for kids are infinitely more fun with interactive elements like electricity. However, electricity can be a complicated element, and even a little scary to work with, especially with younger kids. When kids are working with power, you want to make sure the projects will be safe.
We went to Walgreens to pick up some Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries to power up our STEM projects. The main reasons we picked Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries are because they are lighter than regular batteries, which is especially helpful for these projects when weight could be a factor in making the project fail. The Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries also have leak resistant construction, which is definitely important when you are working with them in these kinds of STEM projects. You can learn more about Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries on the Walgreens website
The Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries can be found with the rest of the electronics near the front doors of the Walgreens store we go to in Lehi, Utah.
From now until 6/30/2018, you can earn 5,000 loyalty points when you buy an 8 pack or larger of Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries with Balance Rewards at Walgreens. The Balance Rewards program is free to join and you can do it in-store, online, or by downloading the Walgreens App. The program allows you to earn points every time you shop and turn points into dollars off future purchases.
STEM projects for kids #1: Buzzy Bug
Buzzy Bug is probably the most creative of all of these projects. Once you have the basic parts in place you can decorate it with all sorts of materials. Ours spins in a circle because of the large tail attached to the motor. If you use something smaller your bug will move differently. You can unfold the paper clips to make more stable legs with feet, or use many different materials for legs. After my daughter created her bug, she named it “Bubble Butt”.
This project will allow your kids to let their creativity fly. It also teaches science concepts like balance (to make sure the bug can stand on its own), and how electricity moves through a battery to power an object. All of these projects will teach the second concept.
- 1 Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ battery
- 1 motor
- 1 small piece of foam board
- 1 small cork or another form of offset weight
- 2 small covered wires
- decoration materials (eyes, poms, pipe cleaners, etc)
- hot glue gun and glue sticks
- thick electrical or duct type tape
Step 1: Cut a small piece of the foam board that will fit on the motor. Use the hot glue gun to glue the motor to the small piece of foam board.
Step 2: Glue the Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ battery to the foam board. Attach a cork or another kind of material to the motor that will not spin evenly as an offset to make the bug “buzz” when attached.
Step 3: Twist one end of each wire to the motor.
Step 4: Cut a small piece of tape and take one of the wires and tape the other side to one end of the battery (doesn’t matter which one, but I prefer to tape it to the positive side to make a nose)
Step 5: Cut another small piece of tape and attach it to the other end of the wire. Touch it to the other side of the battery to test the motor. Keep this wire off of the battery to complete the project. You will use this as your on/off switch. Attach to the battery when you want your bug to buzz, and remove when you want it to stop.
Step 6: Use hot glue or tape to attach legs to the motor. Then decorate the rest of your bug however you prefer. You can add decorations to the offset weight (we used a small cork) to make it buzz or spin differently. The offset weight is the main factor in how the bug will move.
Step 7: Once the bug is decorated, let it dry for a little while and then use the wire and attach it to the other end of the battery to turn your bug on and watch it go!
STEM projects for kids #2: Propeller Car
The propeller car is a really fun project that teaches how wind moves through an object to move it forward (Newton’s Law of Motion). You can also use it to teach your children how weight can slow down an object and removing weight can speed it up. The kids can also decorate the car however they want, and use different objects to see which one would be faster, then do races with the finished STEM projects.
- 2 Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries
- 1 battery pack
- 1 motor
- 1 propeller (usually comes with a motor)
- 1 empty can or bottle for car body
- 2 skewers
- 4 round objects for wheels (I used large opening bottle caps from sports drinks)
- 1 straw
- thick tape
Step 1: Use the pointy end of the skewer to poke a hole in the round objects. If the object is too thick, you can use a drill. Move “wheel” down the skewer until it is the correct distance from the end. Use the empty can or bottle as a guide to judge how far away it needs to be.
Step 2: Cut a piece of the straw to fit the distance between each wheel. It should have a little bit of space between each wheel, so don’t cut it exactly the distance.
Step 3: Add the straw to the skewer, and then add the second wheel. Cut the extra pieces of the skewer off so they aren’t poking too far out of the wheels.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 for rear wheels
Step 5: Tape both sets of wheels to the can or bottle. Be sure not to tape where the skewer is, only tape where the straw covers the skewer.
Step 6: Attach the wires from the battery pack to the motor by twisting the ends onto the motor.
Step 7: Attach the propeller to the motor, and then tape the motor to the body of the car. Make sure not to obstruct the motion of the propeller.
Step 8: Place the batteries in the battery pack, leaving one battery slightly out on one end (pushing the battery in and pulling it out will be your on/off switch). Tape the battery pack to the car leaving space for you to push the battery in and take it out when necessary.
Step 9: Push the battery in and watch it go!
STEM projects for kids #3: Scribble Bot
A warning on the scribble bot is that it is the hardest of the projects to control once the batteries are in place. Make sure you have a large sheet of butcher paper or run the bot outside or in the garage where it won’t matter if it leaves the paper. You can experiment with weights and offset sizes to see how they affect the patterns the bot will follow.
- 2 Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries
- 1 motor
- 1 battery pack
- 1 offset weight object (cork, glue stick, etc)
- 1 cylinder (plastic cup, can, cardboard roll, etc)
- butcher paper
Step 1: Attach battery pack to the motor by twisting the wires onto the motor. Tape or glue battery pack or motor to the top of the cylinder. Make sure not to obstruct the part of the motor that spins.
Step 2: Use glue (super glue or hot glue) to attach the offset to the motor. We like using different sized corks for offsets since you can poke the end of the motor into the cork.
Step 3: Use rubber bands to attach the markers around the cylinder. The caps of the markers should be placed below the bottom of the cylinder.
Step 4: Place the bot on the butcher paper and remove the caps to the markers.
Step 5: Place the batteries into the battery pack. To turn it off, simply remove one side of one of the batteries. Good luck catching your bot to get the battery out though, it moves FAST!
Let’s see what YOU create!
Through these fun STEM projects for kids, your family can learn so much about how physics, electricity, and gravity work. It also gives them a chance to get super creative as they decorate their new STEM projects. Your children will also get a chance to experiment. These basic STEM projects for kids have so many variables, you can keep making them with different materials and decorations and have completely different results!
If you do make some of them, make sure to share it on social media with the hashtags #PowerYourSummer and #FTZ so I can see your projects!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.
Sarah Kimmel has spent the last 16 years of her career as an IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com