We have a responsibility to preserve our planet and its inhabitants, but what can you do to help? Teach the next generation about the species that call Earth home. Empower them to be innovative problem solvers to protect plants, animals, and insects. The following is a list of STEM activities dedicated to sharpening STEM skills and raising awareness about some of the most valuable, threatened, and endangered living things in our world. Read on for 5 life science STEM activities.
** This post includes Affiliate Links
Create a Bee Hotel
One in four wild bee species in the U.S. is at risk of extinction. Honeybee populations are on the decline as well. Why do we need bees? Plants need bees to pollinate. An average bee colony can pollinate 250 million flowers in just one day! If bees do not pollinate, many plants will not produce food sources that so many other species, including us, depend on. In fact, one third of the food consumed by Americans can be credited to the contribution of bees. What can you do to help the bees? Create a home for them!
What you need:
An empty, clean food can
Paper straws (do not use plastic!), or rolled up sturdy paper
Some native sticks
The challenge: You want bees to have a home that provides shelter from rain and too much sun. It must also be suspended off of the ground and provide the cozy spaces they need to lay their eggs.
Basic design instructions: You may choose to paint the outside of the can for aesthetics as well as coating the can to prevent rust. Next, punch a hole at the edge of the bottom to poke a string through (or better yet, allow kids to brainstorm and design a way to suspend the bee hotel off of the ground. Cut paper straws and sticks slightly shorter than the depth of the can. Fill can with straws and sticks until the can can be turned upside down without anything falling out. To give kids more creative freedom, allow them to use cardstock instead of paper straws and make their own small spaces for the bees. Note, it is best to use natural materials and not glue or tape. Discuss the science behind what allows you to not need glue or tape to keep everything from falling out (pressure and friction).
Hotels should be placed near a water source and lots of flowers to pollinate! For an extended learning experience, check out books about bees! I recommend Bee, A Peek -Through Picture Book by Britta Teckentrup for preschool thru Kindergarten, Explore My World: Honey Bees by National Geographic for Kids for elementary students, and The Hive Detectives, Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catatrophe by Loree Griffin Burns as a reference for middle school and high school students.
Pelican STEM Activity
Have you ever watched a pelican fish? It is fascinating how they work together to corral then scoop up their meal, or dive in and gulp the fish down. Did you know that their iconic throat pouch can hold 3 gallons of water? The sad thing is, many of these beautiful birds are threatened by pollution in our oceans.
Learn more about these amazing creatures, experiment, and test your critical thinking skills with our free printable STEM activity. Learn how to make a pelican with a working beak— complete with a throat pouch that opens and closes to pick up fish too! Grab this printable in our free resource library by signing up for our newsletter to receive the password. You can subscribe in the footer of this page.
Another beloved pollinator is the beautiful butterfly. But what allows them to fly they unique way they do? Watch this video below by Inside Science to learn the physics! For our STEM activity, we will focus on the glide and drag of a butterfly’s colorful wings.
You will need: Pipecleaners & tissue paper. Use a stopwatch or phone timer as well.
The Challenge: Create a butterfly that will remain in the air for the greatest amount of time when dropped from a given height.
Set a height for students to drop their butterflies from, like the top of a doorway. Provide one sheet of tissue paper and one pipecleaner to each child. You may show them how to pinch the middle of the tissue paper, bend the pipecleaner in half around it, and twist it on the other end to form the butterfly’s body. Have students test different size and shaped wings to see which configuration stays in the air the longest. Record results and compare between students!
What do bees and butterflies both love? Flowering plants of course! Go further with the learning experience with a challenge that focuses on the science of plant development and an engineering design project— The Botany STEM Challenge. Create window greenhouses to grow live plants, learn about the pioneering botanist, Dr. Katherine Esau, and design a device to transport the little plants home. To read more about this challenge, go to our post here.
Enjoy learning about and pondering ways to protect our beloved wildlife!
**Vivify LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This post contains affiliate links.