Fun STEM experiments for the kids that can be done with items found around the home

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Thousands of kids across the metro are home Monday in honor of President’s Day. Did you know our nation’s first President – George Washington – is considered America’s first engineer? That’s why the week of President's Day is also National Engineers Week – a time to celebrate and promote STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.

Engineers from Burns & McDonnell visited FOX to share fun experiments you can do with your kids.

Futuristic motorized coloring machine

What you need:

• Toy motor with attached wiring or a hobby motor
• 9 volt battery
• Binder clip
• 4 color markers
• Electric “alligator” clip
• Hot glue sticks and hot glue gun
• Plastic cup
• Electric drill (or something to make a hole in the cup)

How to make it:

• Drill/make a hole in the bottom of an old plastic cup
• Insert the toy motor with its attached wires into the hole. If you don’t have one, you can buy a hobby motor (we bought ours at Radio Shack for about $5.00)
• Hot glue the motor to the cup to secure it into place
• Clip on the binder clip to the motor, from inside the cup, to give it some weight
• Hot glue the 9 volt battery on the cup right next to the motor
• Connect the battery to the motor with your alligator clips to make the electrical connection
• You can also glue down the wires to the side of the cup to better secure them
• Hot glue your favorite markers onto the side of the cup
• When you’re ready to create your piece of art, take off the lids to the markers and place it on a sheet of paper and connect the battery

What you learn:

• For generations, engineers have learned their craft simply by taking things apart and learning how they go together.
• It’s also a great exercise to determine how to use these same elements to create new inventions.

What you need

• Bucket with water
• Plastic cup with a small hole
• Balloons
• Empty water bottle
• Straw
• Empty pop cans
• Your hair
• Cloth

How to bend water

• Fill a bucket with water
• Poke a small hole in a plastic cup to create a stream
• Charge up the balloon by rubbing it on your hair or a cloth
• Place it near the stream of water to see how it bends

What you learn

• Electrons attract protons to get objects moving
• When you rub the balloon on your hair or cloth, electrons build up on the surface of the balloon, which causes static electricity (non-moving electricity)
• The electrons have the power to pull very light objects with a positive charge toward them -– like the stream of water

How to make a magic straw

• The same concept can make a straw move without even touching it
• We balance a straw on top of a water bottle
• Blow up a balloon to its full size and tie off the end
• Rub the cotton towel over the surface of the balloon for 30-45 seconds
• Hold the balloon near the straw to move it without touching it directly!

How you make it: Can races

• Put the soda can on its side on a flat, smooth surface
• Rub balloon back and forth on your hair, towel, T-shirt or carpet really fast
• Hold balloon an inch in front of the can and watch it roll in the other direction

What you learn:

• These concepts apply to a variety of electrical engineering careers from electronics designers to transmission line crew members.


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