STEM is for girls and spring is for STEM—get hands-on experience with these anyone-can-do projects

The warmer weather, brightly budding trees and chirping birds have finally arrived to announce the start of spring. After being cooped up by the cold weather and stuck at home thanks to the pandemic, spring is the perfect time to go outside and engage your girls in STEM. There is no shortage of fun STEM project ideas. We rounded up five from around the web—try one today!

  1. A Cooler Project 

The heat is on, so what better time to learn exactly how that cooler you or your mom lug to the beach really works. In this short STEM activity, the goal is to discover which material makes the best insulation and, in turn, just how long you can keep an ice cube from becoming a small puddle. For this project, you’ll need plastic tupperware, ziploc bags, ice cubes and a variety of insulators like newspaper, cotton balls, bubble wrap and so on. By the end of this STEM activity, your young scientist will have a better grasp of convection and conduction.

  1. Tiny Techno Dancers

For most of us, the warmer weather means getting together with our friends and family for cookouts, movie nights or backyard game nights. Although that may not be possible yet due to safety concerns and essential pandemic protocols, this extremely cool STEM activity is perfect for those missing their girl gang. 

Interested in technology or electromagnetism? Try building a homopolar motor! This is a sophisticated project and will likely require some trial and error, as well as parental supervision. Try making a basic homopolar motor at first, then play around with making your “tiny dancer” out of copper wire. Once you have the science down, dress your dancers in colorful crepe paper and watch them dance as you play DJ! 

  1. DIY Bird Nests

Have you ever thought of birds as engineers? A quick search of “birds nests” will reveal that these crafty homebuilders construct nests in trees, bushes, rocky edges and on the ground. Take a look around your yard or favorite park. Can you spot any bird nests? If so, can you tell what materials those birds chose to use?

For this spring-inspired STEM project, you will build your own bird nest using only natural materials that you can find outside. Think twigs, small rocks and grass. This could get messy (a.k.a. fun), so work outside if possible. Gather your nest materials, including an egg or egg-like rock or rubber ball, to test the sturdiness of your design. Before adding your “egg,” try testing your nest by gently blowing on it. There is no perfect design goal here, so everyone’s result may look different. When you’re done, simply put your materials back where you found them outside. Cleanup here is a cinch! 

  1. Make a Backyard Sundial

Another great STEM activity for those who can’t get enough of the sunny spring weather is to make your own sundial! Once you have a nice spot picked out (aim for an area about 10-12 inches in diameter), you will need to gather 12 seashells or rocks, paint and a good stick. That’s it! It may take some time to map as you will need to watch the sun’s shadow once you plant your stick in the ground to serve as the sundial’s gnomon. Fans of ancient history, earth science or those with an artistic flair may particularly enjoy this project, too!

  1. Measure a Tree’s Height 

Perfect for pairs, this outdoorsy STEM activity is a great excuse to explore nearby parks, hiking trails or scenic overlooks. The only materials you’ll need to measure tree height are a pencil, measuring tape or a measuring stick and a partner. One girl will use the pencil to estimate the tree height, while the other girl will stand near the chosen tree to pace out the measurement later. Once they get the hang of it, the girls can swap places and assume the others’ role. Math and a hike, talk about a perfect afternoon!

What STEM project ideas do you have planned for spring? Head to our new Resources page for a lot more inspiration.