STEM activities

4 STEM Activities with Materials You Have at Home

What are the 5 C’s and why are they important?

The National Education Association (NEA) conducted research and interviews asking education and business leaders the qualities needed to be successful in the 21st century. They determined the four most important skills are critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication (NEA, 2012). Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) added the fifth component of citizenship, ensuring that students would learn to be respectful citizens as well. Here is a breakdown of each skill, followed by 4 STEM activities and how to incorporate these skills into the activities.

Critical Thinking

        ➢    Displays curiosity
        ➢    Seeks information
        ➢    Analyzes and evaluates information to solve a problem or form an opinion.
        ➢    Re-evaluates a solution or opinion based on new information

Creativity

        ➢    Generates original ideas and unique solutions
        ➢    Uses imagination to expand on ideas
        ➢    Views things from a different perspective

Collaboration

        ➢    Cooperates with others and makes meaningful contributions
        ➢    Values ideas and opinions of others
        ➢    Builds on the ideas of others

Communication

        ➢    Expresses information, ideas, and opinions clearly
        ➢    Listens to the ideas and opinions of others
       
    Asks clear and appropriate questions to better understand ideas or opinions

Citizenship

        ➢    Demonstrates ethical behavior
        ➢    Has compassion for others and is unselfish
        ➢    Understands the need to contribute to a community

4 STEM activities that support the 5 C’s and you can do with materials you have at home

STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math

Tallest Tower
  1. Materials needed: 10 pieces of dry spaghetti, 1 yard of masking or scotch tape, 1 yard of string, 2 medium marshmallows
  2. 5 C’s incorporated: communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, citizenship
  3. Task: Who can build the tallest free-standing tower using the materials provided?
  4. Number of people: If possible, have your child complete this activity with a partner or two (friend, sibling, or parent) to include all 5 C’s. Alternatively, this can be done independently to encourage creativity and critical thinking.
Moveable Stack
  1. Materials needed: 10 plastic cups set up in a stacked pyramid, 4 pieces of string tied to 1 rubber band (tie them so they create a square with the rubber band when pulled in each direction)
  2. 5 C’s incorporated: communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, citizenship
  3. Task: Can you move the stack of cups without using your hands? Once you figure out how to move them, can you re-create the pyramid stack without using your hands?
  4. Number of people: This can be done independently to encourage creativity and critical thinking. When done with a partner, it adds the communication, collaboration, and citizenship skills.
Towers that can Withstand a Hurricane
  1. Materials needed: 1 yard of tape, 3 sheets of newspaper (or any paper), hairdryer
  2. 5 C’s incorporated: communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, citizenship
  3. Task: Using the materials given, can you build a free-standing tower that withstands hurricane winds? After your child has built their tower, use the hairdryer to act as the “hurricane winds” to see if the building can stay standing. You may ask your child, what type of structure held up the best, did they want to try another type or make alterations after testing the hairdryer?
  4. Number of people: This can be done independently to encourage creativity and critical thinking. When done with a partner, it adds the skills of communication, collaboration, and citizenship.
Paper Chain
  1. Materials needed: 2 pieces of 9×11 construction paper, scissors, 1 yard of masking or scotch tape
  2. 5 C’s incorporated: communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, citizenship
  3. Task: Who can make the longest paper chain? Does how you cut the paper make a difference?
  4. Number of people: This can be done independently to encourage creativity and critical thinking. When done with a partner it, adds the communication, collaboration, and citizenship skills.

Written by Kathleen Limbaugh, M.A.T. & NBCT.  Kathleen is a National Board Certified Teacher and you may read more about her here.

Read more great Teacher Tips for Parents here.

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