Planning a STEM or STEAM Family Night? Read on for 10 amazing activities (plus tons of FREEBIES) that will engage the whole family! From painting with robots to creating a paper circuit, these activities will take your STEM Family Night to the next level!
New to STEM Family Nights? Hop over to our planning guide post for more details.
1: Virtual Coloring
Our families LOVED this augmented reality coloring activity using the Quiver app. Students choose a coloring page centered around a STEM topic such as a rocket or parts of a cell. After coloring, they use the free Quiver app, to bring the drawing to life with augmented reality. The app even includes interactive features where students can zoom into drawings, click on different parts to learn more, or play a trivia game.
2: Explore the Universe
Students of all ages are fascinated by the night sky! The Sky View app is a great way to discover planets and satellites in the night sky - even indoors. To direct the learning, we have created a FREE scavenger hunt to allow students to explore planets, stars, and satellites. Using the Sky View app, available for free on Apple and Android tablets, students find the Moon, International Space Station, Hubble Telescope, and the planets in our Solar System. This freebie includes a coloring page and is available in Spanish.
3: Space Lander Engineering Challenge
We adapted one of our favorite classroom STEM challenges, the Space Lander, into the perfect STEM Family Night station. Read more on this popular challenge here. Instead of testing with two jumbo marshmallows, which can create a nasty mess, we use 2 ping pong balls. We also replaced the mini marshmallows with cotton balls. All supplies are bagged into kits that are ready to go for a big event!
4: Tower Building
Everyone loves a good building activity! Challenge students to compete with their parents in building the tallest tower with provided materials. We provide a stack of 100 index cards plus 1 foot of masking tape for each team. Sometimes we set a 10 minute timer, but usually we just let teams build as long as they want. Final towers are measured, and we record top heights on a leaders board for a school-wide competition. You can find more tower challenge ideas here and here.
5: Forensics Fun
Bring CSI to your STEM Family Night! Reveal a student’s heat signature and unique fingerprints through interactive forensics activities! Families use graphite and clear tape to record fingerprints while learning how they are used in forensics. A second part of the station includes a thermal camera for students to explore the infrared world! We recommend the SEEK camera that attaches to an Android tablet or iPad. A thermal camera can be used to reveal a body heat signature as well as explore heat created by friction. We created a free worksheet with all the details in our Vivify resource section.
6: Makey Makey
If you haven't already discovered Makey Makey, stop everything and watch this video! These little circuit boards bring together coding, invention, creativity, and electronics. Just plug into any computer, and with no software download required, watch as your students turn conductive items (PlayDoh, oranges, pencil led) into a controller that replaces a keyboard or mouse! We love using these with from elementary all the way to high school! We created a freebie with activity instructions and a guide to setup 3 different demo stations. You can access the freebie in our Vivify Resources page.
7: Paper Circuits
Paper circuits are a fun way to teach circuits and conductivity. Students use the easy-to-follow diagrams to create their own card that will light up! Materials needed include: paper, copper tape, LED lights, coin batteries, and clear tape. Students can also use markers or crayons to decorate the card. We created a freebie with activity instructions including 2 card templates in both English and Spanish. Check it out in our Vivify Resources page.
8: Stop motion Animation
Combine storytelling with STEM! Setup the scene with a theme or story line such as a mission to Mars and allow families to create a movie using provided props. To create the videos, use iPads, Kindles, or Chromebooks along with a blank backdrop such as trifold boards. Provide each family with a set of action figures or toys. We love using Stikbots! We created a freebie of instructions plus 3 STEM story lines in our Vivify Resources page.
9: Paint with Sphero
Do you have a set of Sphero robots? If not, read more here on the basics of Sphero plus 3 STEM challenges. In previous STEM Family Nights, we created a maze with painter’s tape for families to practice driving SPRK robots. This year, we worked with the art teachers to create a robot mural station! Another set of free instruction for the station set-up are found in our Vivify Resources page.
10: Osmo Coding Game
We love Osmo for elementary STEM nights! We use the Numbers and Awbie games as an educational introduction to block coding. Parents love to explore along with their students. We setup 4 iPads with the game loaded, and if the activity becomes popular, we set 10 minute timers. Make sure the game is in a well-lit room, and station volunteers know how to reset after each user.
We hope you find these activities useful in planning your STEM or STEAM Family Night! Best of luck!
Vivify’s STEM Family Night Planning Guide
For more information, you can purchase Vivify's all-inclusive planning guide that includes all of our activities, a planning checklist, a complete budget and materials list, editable marketing materials, STEM resource handouts, and more! Now includes a Spanish version of handouts and signs! Check out a preview below. You can also check out our planning guide post for more details.