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Your Top 5 coolest low tech STEM activities

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Joshua Blum Joshua Blum 65 Points

The subject line says it all!!  Looking for low tech ideas for a wide range of ages working together.  Thanks in advance and happy spring!

Jayson Bijak Jayson Bijak 595 Points

Two projects that I’ve done and seen done within the classroom that the kids have enjoyed are 1) the foil penny boat (students are given a sheet of foil and have to make a boat that will float on water and hold as many pennies as possible; follow-up discussion about what designs did best, if penny placement has any affect, etc.) and 2) a spaghetti/toothpick and marshmallow tower (students are given either spaghetti or toothpicks and marshmallows and have to build a structure that reaches a certain height and can successfully hold a certain amount of weight). I’ve seen the latter used in conjunction with a reading lesson (think Three Little Pigs; building a structure to withstand the “Big Bad Wolf”) in lower grades and a lesson about which bridge structures work best in upper grades.

Elizabeth Inselmann Elizabeth Inselmann 1395 Points

Hi Joshua, 

    One STEM activity I really like is seeing which part of the apples sink or float. There are many different ways you could use this in your early elementary classroom what I did was students guessed if different parts of the apple will sink or if they will float. You can then chart, tally, or both the student responses. Test it and see who was right. Also, in the end, trying to make the apples sink. 

All the best, 

   Lizzy Inselmann Wartburg Class of 2023

Annie Mast Annie Mast 605 Points

Hello Joshua, 

One low-tech STEM activity that I like a lot is having groups of students work together to create a bridge that can hold 100 pennies. This activity allows for creativity in how their bridge is designed while also using teamwork skills to create the bridge. There is also room for students to try to improve their design if it can not hold the 100 pennies on the first try. Here is the link if you want to look more into it!


All the Best,

Annie Mast

Brenda Velasco Mizenko Brenda Velasco 2695 Points

I've made Puff Mobiles with my students. They are very easy to make. I cut out card stock for the body of the car and have the students design a sail made out of construction paper. This year I'm having them make the body of the car out of egg cartons. I then help them hot glue straws on the bottom of the card stock. They then use mint Life savors as the wheels and put tape on the outside of the wheel (it can't be taped to the wheel..just enough so that the wheel doesn't fall off the straw. . They then tape their sail on the top. It's a great force and motion..and wheel and axle lesson for them. The point is to blow on the sail to make the cars move. We've had races outside and had a blast!  I teach 3rd grade. It's always a fun lesson to do.


Puff_mobiles_3.jpg (2.15 Mb)

Toneka Bussey Toneka Bussey 1928 Points

Great for force and motion!

Emillee Medina Emillee Medina 690 Points

hello, i really like this idea for a stem actiivity. As an aspiring teacher, I find it a little difficult to find steam activities or ideas to incoparate each aspect of ste. I will definetly be trying it out this out with my cousins.

Daisy Garcia Daisy Garcia 450 Points

I thank you for this wonderful project idea. I plan to do this activity with my son here at home as to engage him on a hands-on science activity! My other two children are older but it may as well interest them as to all of us go outside and have a race see which one gets the farthest! KUDOS! 

Katie Cassell Katie Cassell 690 Points

Hello! I recently had my students create boats that had to be able to float as well as support weight as an activity at the end of a lesson about buoyancy. I paired them up and gave each group two foam cups, 2 plastic straws, and one square foot of foil, pastic wrap, and wax paper. I also gave each group 1 foot of masking tape. They did not have to use all of the supplies either. They were allowed to use scissors to cut their materials, but no other supplies. They did ask if they could use glue if they ran out of tape, but part of the challenge was having only the supplies available, so they were not able to use the glue. I gave them 15 minutes to design and build their boats. Then, each team tested their boat by placing it in a tub of water and placing pennies on the boat. Students added pennies to the boats until they eiher sunk or started taking on water. After we found out which boat supported the most pennies, that group shared how they created their boat, and the students had to discuss why this particular boat may have been able to support the most weight. Then we related this to materials that real boats are made out of and why boats float in general. The kids had tons of fun, and it was a great team building activity!

Kai Johnson Kai Johnson 1305 Points

This seems like an activity that students would really love because it brings out their engineering side but it would be interesting to see what problems with teamwork would arise. I have actually witnessed an activity similar to this when I was a para. My special education student really struggled to work together with his teammates because he wanted to do everything his way. He also took it really hard when his ideas did not work the first time or if another students idea worked better than his. How you could modify this activity is just something to think about!

Emily Faulconer Faulconer 5755 Points

What grade level? 

I am in the final stages of designing an interdisciplinary science course on the Science of Flight, which ties in physics, meteorology, chemistry, environmental science, and biology - all in the context of aviation. We are using a paper airplane competition to tie in many STEM concepts to the course. While the project is designed for an introductory college course, it could easily be modified for middle and high school level. 

Erick McGinley Erick McGinley 830 Points

Are you planning to use the STEM activity where you have students make those simple paper helicopters that twirl down? The way we always used it was that everyone could use a standard sheet of paper, scissors, and one paper clip to make the helicopter. The design and redesign was to see who could get a pattern/version to stay in the air the longest (and why!). Or it could be a fun connection to environmental science/biology and seed dispersion if instead of a helicopter they had to build a maple samara and maybe the goal was to land the farthest from the 'trunk'! 

Brenda Velasco Mizenko Brenda Velasco 2695 Points

I have also made clouds with my students. All you need is a mason jar, (there are plastic ones too), ice, hot water, and hair spray! 

Here is a link about it:

Toneka Bussey Toneka Bussey 1928 Points

Great for teaching parts of the water cycle!

Gabe Kraljevic Gabe Kraljevic 4564 Points

Hello there!

I have a collection of dollar-store STEM activities here in the Learning Center that span grades 2 through 8 but can be used in almost any grades: Gabe's STEM resources

Hope this helps!

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92369 Points

Gabe always shares some great stuff! I spend way too much money and time at the dollar stores. 

Toneka Bussey Toneka Bussey 1928 Points

Thanks!  These are great ideas that are inexpensive.

Diana Potts Diana Potts 505 Points

I love the idea of students taking data for the different slimes and then the students writing a comparison. Thanks, Gabe!

Sheena Payne Sheena Payne 510 Points

Amazing ideas! Recently at my placement, our fifth-grade students used 10 note cards and tape to recreate famous towers and see who could build the tallest tower. The students went through the engineering design process to research the tower that they would recreate, create a sketch/plan of their design, and then attempt to follow their plan using the note cards and tape. Many students realized that they needed to modify their design to prevent the towers from falling over. The students really enjoyed this activity and were able to apply what they knew about the engineering design process, also. 

Gabe Kraljevic Gabe Kraljevic 4564 Points


I already posted this earlier!  But, here is a link to my collection of STEM resources - middle years mostly but adaptable to almost any grade.  All very simple, inexpensive, etc. 

Hope this helps,

Gabe Kraljevic

Wanda McRae-Jones Wanda McRae-Jones 2130 Points

WOW!  Your rexources are Awesome!  I love the way you organized your resources by grade level.  Thank you so much!

Annie Place Annie Place 450 Points

Hi, my name is Annie Place, and I am a preservice teacher from Wartburg College. Growing up, I remember this really great activity about chameleons changing coloring. We would learn about them camouflaging themselves to the background or space they are in. This leads me to the activity. Then each student would get a little 4' by 4' chameleon. Students would be asked to color their chameleon to camouflage it around the room. Then we would all walk silently around the room like a gallery walk and see if we could take a little note if we found anyone's chameleon. This was a low-tech idea for the classroom. It can be adapted to fit many different age levels as well.   

Mary Lynn Hess Mary Hess 12358 Points

That's a good idea Annie. It reminds me of the Peppered Moth Lesson. It's a perfect example of evolution in action. The Peppered Moth was often referred to as 'Darwin's Moth'. Here are a few pieces of information to add to a lesson.

Brittany Fitzgerald Brittany Fitzgerald 505 Points

Hello, an activity that I completed in on of my college physics classes envolves using regular everyday items to create the highest/longest roller coaster. The coaster would be represented with a marble or other small ball and the roller coaster must keep the ball in a continuos motion without outside force.

Nicole Bayeur Nicole Bayeur 40 Points

Check out Estes Rockets! We have products for all ages, budgets and skill levels! 

Sally Bensusen Sally Bensusen 190 Points

There are 8 (so far) free, low-tech, nature-oriented activities offered here:

Some of these activities use easy-to-obtain plants as study subjects, some direct students to explore nature in their own neighborhoods (even in inner cities!), and some are disguised as games. Some of these activities also make allowances for online learning. Have a look. I'd be curious to know your thoughts.


Lydia Hobby Lydia Hobby 631 Points

Hello Joshua,

One STEM activity that I used growing up was designing a way to drop an egg from a window and not letting the egg break. This is a great way for students to collaborate with ideas and strategies in order to accomplish the main goal. Even after the activity is completed, students can still work together to figure out why their method did or did not work. This activity only includes eggs and other 'packaging materials', such as paper, cotton balls, etc. Although I enjoyed this activity immensely, there are a numerous amount of other STEM activites that would work just as well with a hands-on approach.


All the Best,

Lydia Hobby

Eva Hines Eva Hines 1165 Points

I once did a fun, low-tech STEAM project where students had to use the given supplies to devise a way to get Repunzel out of her tower. My colleagues and I made the tower out of cardboard and then gave the students materials such as popsicle sticks, string, pipe cleaners, tape, and paper. Their task was to create a way for the Repunzel doll to ride out of the tower without falling. They had the opportunity to design, test, and redesign. The students had a lot of fun and it gave them an opporutnity to practice using the engineering design process. 

LaCrisha Lewis LaCrisha Lewis 455 Points

Our 8th Graders had a STEM fair this past fall. We used our librarian, who helped them research their chosen profession. Each student had to choose the type of engineer that wanted to be: Chemical, Aerospace, biomedical, mechanical, electrical or computer. They then had a poster that explained the job of their chosen field as well as a performance task. It was the most successful day we've had! The kids loved it! If you're interested, just click on the links and it'll take you the performance task that includes background information, performance tasks, and a materials list. The computer engineering station is specifically for ozobots, so if your campus doesn't have it, you'll need to omit/change it. 

Joshua Blum Joshua Blum 20 Points

I love ALL the posts and replies to this original post.  Amazing!  A friend just let me know about  Amazing resource with a massive amount of resources and ideas.  

Happy June everyone and THANK you for the collaboration


Lindsey Barsoum Lindsey Barsoum 490 Points

I have had the students build free flowing contraaptiohns with a set of different materials like cups, scissors,straws, toothpicks and popsicles sticks.

Jena Upton Jena 40 Points

I adore every single comment and response to the original post. Amazing! I recently learned about geometry dash meltdown from a friend. Amazing resource with a ton of ideas and resources.



Vanessa Stoun Vanessa Stoun 150 Points

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Tameko Wilson Tameko Wilson 390 Points

Thanks for the great tips!

Oilu Miun Oilu 10 Points

I like Marshmallow Building (Genre: Engineering)
All you need is a bunch of marshmallows and toothpicks to get your kids started learning about structure. Through connecting toothpicks with marshmallows, encourage your child to see which shapes can stand together, which shapes will connect best, or which shapes look the most interesting. fnaf

This STEM activity for preschoolers can help children begin to understand the thinking, design, and technology behind structural engineering. Challenge them to create a house or a specific structure.

Britney Stidham Britney Stidham 240 Points

I love these cool inexpensive ideas! Definitely something I can incoorperate in the classroom when I start teaching! 

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