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STEM

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I have posted here before looking for STEM ideas. I have found LOTS of ideas, but I don't trust any of them. What I am looking for from my fellow scouters today are STEM ideas that you have actually tried and that have actually worked. It's one thing to say "make a magnet by rubbing a needle and floating it in water." It is quite another to actually attempt to do that with ten 8-year-old boys. So, let's have it. What have you actually done with your boys to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math?

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Done all this. Remember Safety First

 

2 boards, 2 empty 2 liter plastic bottles. Set up boards as ramps of equal slope. Half fill one bottle with water. Then ask scouts which bottle will win the race. Race bottles and again. Results may surprise. Good exercise in Scientific Method.

 

Balloons and static electricity. Hair-raising is cool too.

 

We made wicked capacitors with aluminum foil, nail, water, and 35mm film container.

 

Simple machines (lever, wedge,..). Use mechanical advantage to move something they cannot move alone.

 

Make playdough, Ooze, slime, rock candy (crystals)

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-...a-Turtle-Ooze/

 

Made bird suet (that was a HUGE mess)

 

Plenty of books of easy science experiments for that age group.

 

Experiment should to be engaging, helps if it is surprising, and should be hands on. Save the one-man shows for magicians.

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I have actually helped teach five classes of third graders to make solar ovens out of pizza boxes in science class. Another volunteer helped them make smores in them the next week, and I hear it went well. The kids loved it. I don't remember any having trouble with it.

 

As a side teaching aid, the teacher used regular weather thermometers on 1 page each of red paper, yellow paper, and black paper to show which color absorbed the most heat from a sunlamp. The kids then chose the most heat absorbent color to line the bottom of the oven. They also used foil to help reflect more heat into the box.

 

Overall, it was a cheap, fun, and educational project. Took us about 30 minutes of class time.

 

Good luck,

 

GA Mom

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Make some Cartesian divers in addition to the above materials and explore the wonderful world of physical properties, Bernoulli's principle, Stoke's Law, etc. Test the idea that Coriolis effect works at small scales. There are lots of cheap and easy ways to do STEM. It doesn't all have to involve Lego kits and computers.

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Some great idea's. TO answer the initial question: Read about it, then practice it.. then actually do it with the scouts. Making a paperclip into a magnet isn't that hard, and several of these are also easy. The trick is to inspire their curiosity... do something, then ask them why it worked. Ask them what they think will happen BEFORE you do it, and see if they are right.

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Webelos--Water bottle rockets, we made them and the launcher stand from MAKE magazine (a GREAT source for these sorts of things). Boys made rockets, calculated volumes, and estimated pressures. Because some boys will really screw things up the adults made a few extras and tested them out the weekend before. Great fun.

 

Also catapults and trebuchets using bamboo spars and lashing. Discussed lengths of the levers and mass of objects. Even when it went wrong it was fun. Boys love fling things. Biggest problem was attaching the counter-weight and ammo-holder part. Make one first (don;t fling over fence and hit car beyond like Turtle did at home...urp)

 

In cubs we made simple catapults with 4" pvc pipes partially filled with sand (to avoid folding at the pivot point), put in post holes, and bent back. Would fling water balloons and tennis balls. Eventually the pipes bend and break though.

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We divided them up in teams and had them engineer the tallest structure using supplied materials (straws and tape). We did balloon on string races to demonstrate air pressure and newton's laws of motion. Show them how to pick up a ball with a jar upside down (centrifugal force). We did the starch and hammer experiement. We've made ooze.

 

When we magnetized needles to make compass we used corks. You can either lie the magnetized needle on the cork or put the needle through the cork, then place it in water.

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