It is not often that you hear of a STEM curriculum at the early education or daycare level. However, recent research concludes that early STEM education can improve independent and collaborative learning, language development and problem-solving in preschool-aged children. In fact, education policy experts agree that a play-based STEM curriculum at the early education level is a must for the best head-start in a child’s academic journey. Preschool-aged children are highly effective STEM learners due to their innate sense of wonder and curiosity. Because curiosity is at the heart of all innovation, the earlier teachers and parents can help children harness and direct this interest in exploring the world around them, the more motivated these students will be to uncover the answers they seek. So, how do you – a daycare teacher, early education teacher or home teacher – bring in science on a budget and, most importantly, in a fun and engaging way for the children?

Teaching STEM can be as easy as giving children the opportunity to explore and interact with their environment. Crafted by STEM teachers specifically for daycare teachers, early education teachers and home teachers, these activities do just that while allowing for the introduction of STEM fundamentals in the classroom.

The Experiment: Static Electricity Butterflies

Not only does this work to enhance the children’s creative abilities, but it also introduces them to science on a very basic level. We promise you’ll hear the laughter among the children as they watch their classmates’ hair stand up!

Supplies

  • Balloon

  • Tissue paper for the butterfly wings

  • Card-stock paper for the butterfly body

  • Pencil or pen

  • Scissors

  • Cardboard

  • Glue stick

Directions

  1. Cut a square out of the cardboard. A good size is 6 inches x 6 inches.

  2. Sketch out the shape of butterfly wings on your tissue paper – a little smaller than the cardboard square – and cut them out. Place, but DO NOT glue, the wings on the cardboard.

  3. Cut out a butterfly body from the card-stock paper, and glue it down the middle of the butterfly on top of the wings. The ends of the body should overlap onto the cardboard – above and below the edges of the wings. Again, DO NOT glue down the tissue paper wings; they have to stay loose.

  4. Decorate your butterfly body. You can draw on eyes, antennas or fun designs!

  5. Blow up the balloon and rub it on your hair to create a charge!

  6. Hold the charged balloon close to, but not touching, the wings to watch them raise and lower as you move the balloon. If you lose charge, rub the balloon on your hair again!

How It Works

The butterfly wings move because they have the opposite charge than the balloon, just like a magnet!

The Experiment: Jumping Raisins

The children will be absolutely mesmerized by this super easy STEM activity. Whether you are a daycare teacher, early education teacher or home teacher, this experiment is a way to get the children excited about STEM subjects.

Supplies

  • Unopened club soda or another clear soda (7-up, Sprite, etc.)

  • Small to medium raisins ( fresh works best)

Directions

  1. Fill a glass with soda.

  2. Drop raisins into the glass.

  3. Sit and watch what happens. You may need to be patient. It can take a minute or two for them to start moving.

*Tip: Separate the raisins first. If they are stuck together they won’t dance.

How It Works

At first, the raisins sink to the bottom of the glass because they are more dense than the soda. Over the next minute or so, the carbonated soda releases carbon dioxide bubbles. These bubbles attach to the surface of the raisins and act like a floatation device that lifts the raisin to the surface of the water. This is due to an increase in buoyancy. Once the carbon dioxide bubbles reach the surface of the soda, they pop and the gas is released into the air. This makes the raisin lose buoyancy and fall back down to the bottom of the glass.