Christmas STEAM Advent Calendar: 25 Days of Learning Play – Left Brain Craft Brain

A quick little pinterest search and I came across this list of 24 STEAM based ideas and I wanted to share it before I made my way through the list looking at which ones I want to do (either at home or at work!). I wasn’t even searching for anything Christmassy! And now I possibly won’t have to due to using  Left Brain Craft Brain’s already compiled list! Especially as it includes Art with the usual STEM subjects.

Christmas STEAM Advent Calendar: 25 Days of Learning Play – Left Brain Craft Brain.

And, yes, I know it’s a few days early, and not quite December yet, but people need to plan!

Merry Christmas!


Candy Chemistry Experiments | Experiments | Steve Spangler Science

Candy Chemistry Experiments | Experiments | Steve Spangler Science.

Okay, there may a slight addiction to sweets here (well, after testing and experimenting someone has to eat the spare sweets!) so when someone in a STEM session (after the Skittles experiment) mentioned about Gummy bears in water, it deserved a google search.

We’re currently planning a STEM session on osmosis with blackcurrant squash and potatoes – I tried it the other week and the results were really good and incredibly visual as each potato chip comes out purple in differing shades depending on concentration. The photos didn’t come out too good, unfortunately. But we’re not sure of how long it will take during the hour long session so we wondered if Growing Gummy Bears would be a fun little add on.

There were multiple google hits, but good old Steve Spangler has the best, most scientific explanations so I thought we’d take it from there. Although, from other google hits, I did get the idea to test different liquids rather than just salt and sugar water. I wonder if a white Gummy Bear would go purple in blackcurrant squash?

I can’t wait to try out some different solutions with Gummy Bears. Maybe other sweets, too.

Competition | Talent 2030

Competition | Talent 2030.

For your chance to win £1000, “How can engineers solve the challenges of the 21st Century?”

Ages: There are 3 age brackets for this competition: 11-14, 15-16 and 17-18.

Group Size: Up to maximum of 6 per group. Groups can register independently or through their school. There is no limit to the number of groups from a school.

Closing Date: 19th December 4pm, so there isn’t much time!

Prizes: £500 for the team and £500 for the school for the winner, £100 per runner up.

The brief is to pick a challenge, brainstorm and research and then decide what can be done about it – explain what engineers are or could be doing about this problem. Review what you find out, evaluate and present a conclusion. All of this can be done in video, report or poster form.

Some ideas for projects from the Talent 2030 site include:

  • How engineers can ensure that there is enough water and food for a growing population?
  • How could a hospital be designed best to help cancer patients?
  • Could 3-D printing techniques improve an already existing product in a way that saves energy?
  • How can robots make life or processes easier?

There are pages of resources on the Talent 2030 site. And of course, you can always come up with your own ideas!


BBC News – Wind farms outstrip nuclear power

BBC News – Wind farms outstrip nuclear power.

And finally on this collection of resources is a BBC news story from earlier in 2014 that shows when wind famrs outstripped nuclear power. The story does make it clear that 8 of the UK’s nuclear reactors were offline at the time, but it’s still an interesting article. I am playing with making it a literacy resource, as a laminated article and skim and scan questions at the bottom.

Simple Real Time Energy Production data

Live Wind Power.

This is a related site to that of the more famous gridwatch website that also uses real time data from the national grid and shows it in graph form. I’ve used this as a starter activity just to get discussion moving on renewable vs non-renewable energy. If you want to get into more detailed discussion, you can direct your students to gridwatch (see next blog post).

STEM – Eyeball Dissections

Using the above two links, a worksheet was created that very simply laid out the main parts of an eyeball dissection and had a diagram to label with helpful definitions of everything. The definitions really helped the STEM session, and figuring out which part of the real eyeball was which.

That’s one of the big problems with running a STEM Club – everyone there is starting from a different page and you have to get them all to the same starting point without being too simple or too difficult.

And eyeball dissections are so simple to do, too (once you hack your way into the eyeball!) and easy to get hold of for an entire class of students. Eyeballs aren’t quite as icky as hearts or kidneys either! We then went one step further when someone suggested we cut up a lens!

I’d never thought of cutting up a lens and was incredibly surprised at the contents!

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Mindsets Online – Conductive Ink

Mindsets Online – Conductive Ink.

Have you ever tried this conductive ink before? You can buy a few from the range online at Mindsets and also at Bare Conductive themselves and they are fantastic. We used some a few years ago just before Christmas as a fun session for our STEM group and we have just ordered some Christmas Card packs for our current STEM group.

I think, first of all you colour in the card/design (because they do little houses that you can build, too) and then you make the circuit. Although it was a few years ago that I did it so it might be the other way around. In most of the kits, for every 3 cards you get a conductive ink pen, which you can also buy separately, and you use this pen to draw the circuit. Then you might have an LED or two to put into the circuit and the battery. When you connect up all of the circuit, the LED lights up.

What a novel Christmas card that you can make! Hopefully our order will come in time for the last session of the year and everyone can make their own, personalised, light up card!

8 Water Tricks That’ll Melt Your Mind – YouTube

8 Water Tricks That’ll Melt Your Mind – YouTube.

Water illusion – turn the arrows the other way with only a glass and water. What happens?

Pepper Trick – trough and water with pepper scattered on the surface, pop your finger in it and then a soapy finger! What happens?

Water and JD – shot of water on top of shot of JD, separated by a credit card. Introduce a small gap between the two glasses. What happens?

Fireproof balloon – balloon filled with water on a candle flame. What happens?

Laser Trick – point a laser through a bottle filled with water. What happens? Put a small hole in the bottle and let the water leak out, point the laser through the hole. What happens?

Glowing Water – using tonic water, what happens when you put a UV light on it and turn off the lights?

Water Suspension – bottle, some screen around the top and held in place by an elastic band, fill it with water. Turn upside down – What happens? Now put cocktail sticks in it (still upside down) – What happens?

Instant freeze – put a bottle of pure, distilled water in the freezer and wait for it to reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Bang the cold bottle of water on the table. What happens? With a repeated bottle, pour it out onto an ice cube. What happens?

If you don’t want to try them, watch the video!

I saw the instant freeze on a science show a while ago (with beer not water) and really wanted to know how I could use it in a school environment. I finally have the answer!!!! Now to try all of these!

Candy Experiments: Skittles Rainbow

Candy Experiments: Skittles Rainbow. As an add on to the post I made yesterday about sweetie science, this is the link I found a few years ago for the density rainbow using skittles. I tried it out without being too accurate in my water measurements and had a bit of trouble with the red and yellow, but the other colours had amazing banding.

I’m going to try it again, with a bit more accuracy and the petri dish skittle experiment. Again, this experiment is easy enough to do at home, too. All you need is skittles, water and cups/glasses (see through ones) and a very steady arm!