Online lessons and virtual meetings with students and parents can be good, but at a certain point students are going to want to do more than just look at their screens and answer questions. That’s why it’s worth thinking about some hands-on activities that we can suggest students do at home alone or with the help of their parents. One of the activities that I’m planning to send to my students next week is a mini solar house project that is featured on Microsoft’s Hacking STEM website.
Hacking STEM is a Microsoft website that offers about two dozen hands-on science lessons. The activities are a mix of things that students can probably do on their own and some that probably can’t be done without the supervision of a teacher or parent with working knowledge of the concept(s) being taught. For example, the mini solar house project that I’m having my ninth grade students do can be done safely without my direct supervision (I’m removing the glue gun component and having them use tape). But the “party lights” activity on the same page is not something they’ll be able to do on their own.
As I mentioned in the most recent episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast Exploratorium’s Science Snacks website has dozens and dozens of hands-on science projects for students of all ages. There is a subsection of the site called Family-Friendly Snacks that offers activities specifically designed for parents to do at home with their kids. The vast majority of the projects can be done with common household items. And in response to the COVID-19 outbreak Exploratorium has a selection of activities and videos about viruses.
BONUS: Squishy Circuits!
Years ago I shared this TED-Ed Talk about squishy circuits. Squishy circuits calls for making conductive dough (play dough) to create circuits that light up bulbs or run other simple electronics. Danny Nicholson offers detailed directions on how to make and use squishy circuits.