It’s every parent’s winter nightmare. Kids with noses pressed against frosted or rain streaked windows, while they complain about being bored. The temptation is to fire up Netflix, and let them binge watch the latest cartoons until they fall into a screen coma, but that’s not really going to do much for their development.

Instead of taking the easy way out, try one of these cool projects modeled on those presented at engineering summer camps, and have fun while you learn!

  • The first item on this list is an old favorite that never goes out of style: the house of cards. Spend some time researching how to build card houses online, and then arm each kid with a deck of cards, to create their own!
  • Build foil boats and then float them on some water, to discover the scientific magic of buoyancy. Compare the flotation of the boat with a ball of foil, to highlight how shape is more important than material, and test out different “cargos” to see how much your boats can carry!
  • Download designs for paper gliders from the internet, print them out, and then trace onto card. Let the kids decorate and build their own glider, and then test them out in a hallway.
  • Use plastic bags, string, and plastic men to build parachutes, then drop them from a landing to see which designs work best.
  • Use newspaper to build a tower, using a variety of shapes, including triangles, squares, and hexagons. See which design can hold the most weight.
  • Use copper wire and metal rods, combined with batteries, to make your own electro magnets.
  • Use drinking straws and modelling clay to make your own geodesic domes, and then see how much pressure each one can hold. (Hint: It’s a lot more than you think!)Keep the little ones busy with these great constructive ideas sourced from engineering summer camps.
  • Use paper to create “rockets” and decorate them. Slip over the end of a straw, and blow sharply. Measure whose “rocket” goes the furthest.
  • Use different size jars, filled to various levels, to create a water “xylophone” and use a wooden spoon to play it. Change the water levels. Notice what happens to the sound.
  • Create a water filter in a soda bottle, using cotton balls, sand, small stones, and large stones. Filter dirty water to see how much clearer it is when it passes through the device.
  • Use basic kitchen items to make a super cool lava lamp!
  • Use popsicle sticks, rubber bands and paperclips to make miniature versions of siege engines, like catapults. See how far your “weapons” can toss small balls of paper or modelling clay.
  • Research the principle of cantilever foundations on the internet. Use Lego blocks to build your own cantilevered structures, and test them on the edge of a table.
  • Learn about post and lintel construction, by using wooden blocks to build pillars, and card to create lintels. See how far apart they can be before they collapse under the weight of the same object.

At STEM MINDS Maker Science program our young engineers continue to make new creations using basic skills of science and engineering. Some of their creations include rubber band cars to merry go rounds and doodle bots.

There are endless STEM projects you can do at home, with items you already have. If you’re stuck for ideas, a quick search online will solve the problem, and you’ll find that rainy or snowy days pass much faster when you’re having fun with science! And your child will be primed and ready for engineering summer camps when they are old enough to go.