10 Fun STEM Activities for Middle School Students

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Back when we were growing up, the educational system made a big fuss over the big 3 subjects: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. 

These days, though, the focus has shifted . . . or rather expanded to include STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. (Of course, if you ask me, it’s always a given that reading and writing are important.)

Have middle schoolers who love STEM? Or want to encourage a love of STEM in your kids? Either way, this article has plenty of fun STEM activities for middle school students!

Why STEM matters

You might be wondering why there’s such a big push for kids to dive into STEM. After all, not every child will end up on that kind of career path. And that’s totally fine! 

But here are some valid reasons why encouraging a love of (or at least an interest in) STEM can be beneficial to your kids. 

1. We live in an increasingly “techie” world

. . . and that’s not going to change! In fact, as time goes on, it’s only going to get more techie. At least if the history of humanity is anything to go on.

Considering we live in such a tech-focused and digital-minded age (where kids come out of the womb pretty much knowing how to scroll on devices), kids who don’t have at least a basic understanding of STEM run the risk of getting left behind. Not just as kids, but as they move into the real world of higher education and careers. 

2. It can open the doors to more lucrative careers

Although your kids may grow up and realize they have zero interest in a career in the STEM fields, there’s no denying that the ones who ARE interested in it will have more (and bigger) doors open to them when they have more time and opportunity to explore and learn.

And, as has always been the case, careers in this area tend to offer more in the way of financial security than different areas. 

3. It helps kids see the connection between subjects

One of the beautiful things about STEM is that it’s very much based on a multidisciplinary approach. Although the acronym is a reference to four separate subjects, when you really dive into STEM, you get to see how they all interact, influence, and inform each other. It can be pretty fascinating!

4. It’s very hands-on

Much like art (which is part of the even more inclusive STEAM), the subjects that make up STEM are largely hands-on and interactive, which (in my opinion) is never a bad thing!

5. It encourages critical thinking skills

In addition to getting kids to do hands-on activities, STEM also gives them plenty of reasons to collaborate with others, ask questions, use their imagination and problem-solving skills, and generally put all that beautiful gray matter in their heads to use figuring out what things are, why they are, and how they work.  

How to get kids interested in STEM

I think that this could be an entire article in and of itself, but what it all boils down to is one thing: 

Make STEM part of their daily life. You have to expose them to it.

STEM is, after all, part of the world around us. You literally can’t go even a few seconds without bearing witness to something that falls in the category of science, technology, engineering, or math. 

Once kids understand just how broad the field of STEM is, it’s easier for them to find a space within it that they enjoy . . . however big or little that space may be. 

With that being said, here are some of the best STEM activities specifically for middle school children that will help you get started. Hopefully this helps jumpstart (or feed) a lifelong love of STEM.

And at the end of the article, I’m sharing a great resource for you to easily make STEM curriculum an integral part of your homeschool.

10 Fun STEM Activities for Middle School Students

Make Ice Cream in a Bag

Honestly, who doesn’t love when learning and cooking go together? Especially when you’re whipping up a tasty dessert? In this quick and fun activity, kids learn how to use chemistry to crank out their own homemade ice cream! Edible science at it’s best!

Build a Pizza Box Solar Oven

Speaking of food, this one could be really neat! Using various materials you probably already have laying around the house, you and your kids can build a cheap and functional oven that empowers you to cook food by harnessing the power of the sun! This could be the perfect STEM activity for a hot summer day. 

Build Balloon-Powered Cars

This one is perfect for when you and your kids are exploring Newton’s Laws of Motion. And it’s something you can do in less time than it takes to watch an episode of your favorite show on Hulu!

Make a Fire Snake

This chemical reactions experiment never fails to fascinate kids of all ages! And it’s a great opportunity to introduce your kids to the importance of practicing solid safety skills. 

Make Paper Airplanes

Making paper airplanes is one of those rites of passage as a child that most of us experienced. But you can take it a step further by exploring aerodynamics by experimenting with different flaps and folds to see what difference they make to how the paper airplanes work. 

Leaning Tower of Pasta

In this engineering experiment, kids get a chance to play with their food . . . and use some simple ingredients to build the most load-bearing structure possible. 

Build a Paper Roller Coaster

If your kids absolutely loved putting together the Mouse Trap game, they’ll probably really enjoy this one! Not only is it a fun way to spend your afternoon . . . it will also give them plenty of chances to explore concepts like gravity, friction, simple machines, centripetal force, and more!

Make a DIY Lava Lamp

Have a child who is obsessed with lava lamps? Here’s a chance for them to build their own. In fact, the process is so easy (and the ingredients so readily available), they can make several!

Explore the Birthday Paradox

Have you ever heard of the Birthday Paradox? It asks the question: How large does a random group of people have to be in order for there to be a 50% chance that at least two people in the group have the same birthday?” Surprisingly, the statistical answer is just 23. This is a great opportunity for your kids to test out that theory. 

The Geometry of Basketball

This is a great one for the basketball lovers . . . especially if they actually enjoy playing the sport! The goal (do you see what I did there) is to use geometrical knowledge to determine the likelihood of making goals from different places on the court. But who knows . . . maybe they can also apply these principles to improve their game!

A Great Resource for Homeschool STEM

Another resource I know of (and am thrilled to share with you!) is the Excalibur Solutions STEM Academy Content Library.

If you’re looking to intentionally add more STEM courses into your homeschool curriculum, or have a student really interested in things like video games and computer programming, electronic circuitry, 3D design and the like, you’ll want to check this out.

Excalibur Solutions STEM Academy has close to 600 online, self-paced lessons for homeschoolers. . .and they’re adding about two new projects each month!

Some of their future lessons look really exciting:

  • Drone programming
  • Virtual and augmented reality
  • Web development
  • More programming languages
  • Physical computing with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and other single-board computers
  • Robotics

I met these guys at the Teach Them Diligently homeschool convention, and it’s evident how passionate they are about bring ALL kids high-quality STEM education. They created the content library as a better way to expand STEM education to any child who want to learn these topics, realizing that kids that don’t have the chance to explore STEM fields first-hand might not be as likely to pursue these types of careers.

It’s super easy to navigate the program and incorporate it into your homeschool lesson plans. There are two “level” options included in your subscription: Content Library (mostly for older kids, grades 7+ or those with prior experience) and Content Library Junior (geared towards elementary students, grades 3-6, shorter lessons). However, kids can use either one they want, and work on any project that appeals to them!

Some projects are done completely online (using software like Tinkercad or Scratch), while others (especially the engineering design process projects) may require additional hardware components such as:

There are projects for kids from about 3rd grade level through high school students. Students navigate through the lessons by watching short videos, then applying what they are learning through hands-on projects.

Comprehension checks at the end of the modules are a great way to assess your child’s understanding of the STEM concepts they learned (as well as their finished project!).

My girls really had a lot of fun completing the “Tell Me a Story” module in the Content Library Jr., and working with Scratch, as they had never done this before. This was one they were able to work on completely on their own.

They had a great time creating a story using characters from Hamilton (their absolute favorite musical), and I was really impressed with what they came up with (and even surprised by how much math they were using in their coding efforts!).

Excalibur STEM content library lesson
Coding class Excalibur STEM

Definitely take a look and consider giving these fun, self-paced STEM lessons a try. Your kids will love learning computer science concepts along with electrical engineering skills, which will do wonders for expanding their curiosity of how things work in the world!

Enjoy These Middle School STEM Activities

These are just a few of my favorite easy STEM challenges, activities and resources to get you started. There are so many more out there waiting for you and your kids to dive right in! Let me know in the comments what your favorite STEM projects have been. 


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