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STEM projects for kids: 7 ways to build big with household items

04 April 2022

Do you have any young aspiring engineers at home? These fun activities will not only entertain, but educate the little ones on STEM skills they'll use in their future careers.

STEM projects for kids: 7 ways to build big with household items
These activities are fun for children and grown-ups alike! Image credit: Just Dance/Shutterstock

Need to find a way to keep the kids busy over the holidays?

Inspire the young engineers in your life with these fantastic projects that will engage their creativity, motor skills and imagination.

We’re sure you’ll find yourself having fun too!

1. Try the egg-drop challenge

It’s almost Easter, but this egg-drop challenge is fun any time of the year!

One great way of engaging kids with engineering and introducing them to the roles of gravity, force and acceleration is by doing your very own egg-drop challenge.

The first thing you’ll need is a device to hold the egg. Why not get everyone together and brainstorm ideas for how you want your device to look?

Once you’ve got ideas together, it’s time to build your contraption. You can use anything from cardboard boxes to newspapers and rubber bands. The sky (or your kitchen cupboard!) is the limit.

Then comes the seriously fun part: testing out your device!

If the device is successful, the egg should not break when dropped from a height. If it breaks, it just means that the design needs some tweaking.

Don’t give up – use this as an opportunity to build an even better structure.

2. Build a mini wind turbine

Building a wind turbine that can power an LED light is a brilliant way of teaching kids about engineering skills and renewable energy.

You’ll need a hobby motor, an LED bulb, and household items, such as paper cups, craft sticks, and scissors, to bring the project to life.

Check out the video below for complete instructions.

3. Construct a gingerbread house

Didn’t think baking and civil engineering could go together? Think again!

Constructing a gingerbread house with a solid structure involves using skills vital to engineering – designing, building, and testing.

As the Science Buddies video below shows, you can make your design simple or complex.

You can aim to create a simple house if you’re working with young children, but you can add multiple floors, windows, roofing, and features such as balconies if you've teamed up with older kids.

Once it’s finished, you’ll have a unique design that you can eat or re-use in other delicious gingerbread products like gingerbread truffles or ice-cream.

4. Take part in the 100 cup tower challenge

If your young engineer aspires to build super-skyscrapers, doing the one-hundred cup tower challenge is a great start.

This challenge will test patience, persistence, creativity, and attention to detail – all super valuable skills for civil engineers. Just grab one hundred paper cups and get building.

Tower of cups
Tower of cups. Image credit: Lidya N/Unsplash

5. Build a rubber band helicopter

This project combines fine motor skills with construction: an engineering dream team.

As you can see in this video from STEM Inventions, one handy way to remember how quickly you should launch your helicopter is to say ‘tick-tock.’

If you follow the instructions, you should be able to get your helicopter to fly more than 20 feet (6m).

6. Make a DIY bubble-blowing machine

If you know a child who loves engineering, making a bubble-blowing machine is a creative way to engage them with construction – and they’ll get to have fun afterwards, chasing all the bubbles.

You can make the bubble-blowing machine with many items you might already have lying around the house, including drinks bottles, wire, and glue.

Who knew that a Sprite bottle could be transformed into a machine that will generate hours of fun? Easter holiday entertainment sorted!

7. Build a smartphone projector

Many people bemoan the time kids spend each day on their phones, but you can use technology to help your kids create a fantastic STEM project.

Household items needed include a shoebox, magnifying lens, smartphone and glue sticks.

As tools including a hacksaw, hot glue gun and cutter-knife are required to create the finished product, this project is not recommended for younger children, and an adult should assist.

As a bonus, once you’ve finished this project, you can spend some quality time with the kids watching a film on the projector – a brilliant way to bring the movies straight to your home!

If you need more inspiration, make sure to check out more home activities on our website.

Learn more

We'd love to see your STEM-inspired creations if you’re getting crafty over the holidays. Please post a picture and tag us on Twitter @ICE_engineers.

  • Jessica Beasley, communications executive at ICE