When time is limited and the budget is small, we have AWESOME-ly cheap and quick STEM activities the kids will love testing out. Whether you have 30 mins or all day, these budget friendly STEM challenges are sure to please everyone. Give them a spin in your classroom, at home, or with any group of kiddos. You will love all of our science and STEM projects with ease and budget in mind.
CHEAP AND QUICK STEM ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
Some of the best quick STEM activities , projects, and challenges are also the cheapest! When you are introducing STEM activities to young kids, it’s important to use familiar materials, keep it fun and playful, and not make it to complicated that it takes forever to complete!
You need STEM activities that can be set up easily, kids will find engaging, and provide plenty of opportunities for hands on learning with our STEM design process.
I think you will love our Quick 5 Day STEM Activities Challenge Pack filled with useful printable materials that will take you well beyond the 5 activities we have chosen to share with you.
You are also going to want to check out our NEW Science Standards Series for NGSS! See how NGSS and STEM go hand in hand. Use the printable materials below in your classroom, group setting, or at home!
PRINTABLE QUICK STEM ACTIVITIES PACK INCLUDES
- STEM Design Process: Steps To Success
- 5 Quick and Easy STEM Challenges
- STEM Journal Pages
- Materials Master List
- How To Get Started Instructions
We have included 5 of our favorite easy to set up and quick STEM activities and challenges for you to share with your kids! Build their confidence with simple materials, fun themes, and easy to understand concepts.
Read through our NGSS and STEM series to better understand how these awesome STEM ideas still fit into your new standards!
Your kids will love using our Steps to Success STEM Design Process page during their activities. This will help reduce the need for your constant involvement because each step provides great information for the kids to think about! Build their STEM confidence!
The STEM journal pages include plenty of room for writing notes, drawing diagrams or plans, and collecting data! These are perfect to add to projects for older kids to expand the lesson. Younger kids will love to draw their plans too.
You will also find my master list of cheap STEM materials and a quick how to get started guide for using the STEM activities pack! Also make sure to check out our dollar store engineering kit.
GET STARTED WITH QUICK STEM ACTIVITIES
We know STEM time is fun time! We want you to be able to easily share quick STEM activities with your kids. These ideas aren’t high tech so no circuits or motors in sight, but they will get your kids thinking, planning, tinkering, and testing with easy to use STEM supplies.
If you are short on time, set time limits for each phase of the design process and make that part of the challenge.
Or if you have multiple short sessions to work on these STEM challenges, choose one or two parts of the design process at a time so as not to rush the activity. Having kids use the journal pages to keep detailed notes will help them from session to session. Maybe day 1 is planning, researching, and drawing designs.
My best tip for these quick STEM activities is to always be collecting found materials. You should always keep a bin handy for storing cool items that might come in packaging materials, your recyclables and non recyclables, and all those other random bits and pieces.
FUN STEM CHALLENGE IDEAS!
The first 5 quick STEM activities or challenges below are included in the printable pack, but you will also find a few more fun ideas to add to your STEM time. All of these quick STEM activities and challenges can start with designs on paper.
Design and Build a Catapult STEM Activity
There are a variety of materials and methods you can use for building a catapult! We have several designs you can use for inspiration if you click here.
Build a Boat That Floats STEM Challenge
We have two ways you can go about this challenge! One is to dig into your recyclables (and non-recyclables) and build a boat that floats. Set up a tub of water to test them when everyone is finished. You can take it further by testing their ability to float under weight! Try a soup can. Will your boat float while holding a soup can.
Alternatively, you can give each kid a square of aluminum foil to build a strong boat that floats. Go ahead and test these with added weight too. Remember to pick one type of item like pennies to test the flotation of the boat. Otherwise you will have inaccurate results because you can’t compare the results.
Design a Paper Bridge STEM Challenge
This quick STEM activity uses a couple stacks of books, pennies, paper, and a couple pieces of tape. Challenge your kids to build a paper bridge that spans the gap between two stacks of books. Test the weight of the bridge with pennies.
Additionally, you can challenge the kids to make bridges out of similar sized material like aluminum foil, wax paper, cardstock, etc. This is a fun way to extend the STEM activity for older kids too.
Engineer the Classic Egg Drop STEM Challenge
Here’s one of our recent egg drop challenge designs! Where’s the egg? Did it break? Another great STEM activity that uses whatever you can find for materials.
Build a 100 Marshmallow Tower STEM Challenge or 100 Cup Tower Challenge (or Combination of Cups and Index Cards)
Do you love structure building challenges? They make for a quick STEM challenge or a long STEM challenge depending on the time you have available. Plus there are so many materials you can use. Here we have added the 100 item challenge to the mix.
If you want to check out more structure building ideas and materials click here.
Build a Car That Goes STEM Activity
There are a few ways you can go about this challenge with a group of kids and it really depends on the time available and level of difficulty you want! If you have confident builders sending them to design their own cars that move may be the way to go!
If you have less time or less confident builders, providing the means for the “go” might be more helpful. For example, building a balloon car might be a good choice. Or have the kids brainstorm as a group how they want to make a car “go”. It could be as easy as setting up a fan or more complicated like a rubber band motor. You can see both a balloon car idea here or a rubber band car idea here.
Design and Engineer a Marble Run or Paper Rollercoaster STEM Challenge
Use a box top or the entire wall. You can set this challenge up for whatever your space and time allow. Or try a 3D paper rollercoaster kids build on the table top. This is where that stash of cardboard tubes comes in handy. You can see a pool noodle idea or a cardboard tube idea here.
Set Up a Balloon Rocket STEM Activity
Challenge the kids to balloon rocket races from one end of the room to the next. You can see how we set up a simple balloon rocket here (along with some other fun physics activities for kids)
Explore Pushes and Pulls with Various Objects
This is perfect for exploring forces with young engineers. Build ramps and test objects. Explore what happens when one object pushes into another object or when two objects collide. How does speed and direction change with different forces? Observe what happens when bigger pushes or pulls are exerted on an object
Simple Pulley System Model
Fill a bucket with heavy material and see how easy it is for the kids to lift. Have them imagine trying to then lift that bucket way up high. How would they do it more easily? A pulley system of course! Challenge the kids to build a homemade pulley system to move objects like marbles from the ground to table level. Toilet paper tubes come in pretty handy. Add some string and plastic cups.
Rube Goldberg Machine
Combine some fun things you’ve learned about forces into a STEM challenge where a ball has to travel a path in order to knock down items at the end ( very simplified Rube Goldberg Machine). You can incorporate ramps and even a mini pulley system!
Be an Architect for the Day
You can challenge your kids to design and build a creative structure that solves a problem such as a dog house to keep fido cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Incorporate planning and design and then build models using found materials from your stash.
QUICK STEM ACTIVITIES FOR REAL WORLD LEARNING
Scientists and engineers and designers all use different ways to study the world around them. This is exactly what these quick STEM activities are intended to provide for your young scientists and engineers! Many valuable, real world lessons come from working on simple STEM projects.
Don’t let STEM intimidate you! Your kids will AMAZE you with their thinking power and creativity when it comes to problem solving. Often they have much better answers then we do! These hands- on STEM challenges combine the right amount of play with critical thinking to truly engage any kid.
Not only are these STEM activities amazing for academic success, they provide an amazing opportunity for social skills practice. Working together, problem solving and planning, to come up with solutions is perfect for kids because it encourages interaction and cooperation with peers.
Even if you set up a junk maker space for free time projects, observe kids coming together to build creations. STEM builds confidence, cooperation, patience, and friendships!