5 budget-friendly fun STEM activities for students

After speaking with over 1,000 students in 2018 via STEM programs, I got the sense that today's STEM presentations and projects are pretty boring. This is especially true for low-budget programs.

Regardless of background, students deserve better insights into STEM than finger-wagging lectures. My non-profit's students didn't truly appreciate STEM until they experienced it. Here's how to provide STEM experiences for students without breaking the bank:

1) Magic

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Students in amazement at the sight of a flying teabag. cc: David Chuchuca

Few things arouse student curiosity more effectively than an activity that begs the question, "How did you do THAT!?!?" Check out these budget-friendly science 'magic tricks' AND help your students become the most interesting person at parties when they get older:

There are a few to ways execute this: you can either perform the experiment yourself as a facilitator (cheaper), or you can teach students to perform their own magic tricks (a bit more expensive)

2) Freestyle Rap

Take off those headphones! Is something I'd say to one student every single day. Finally, I put on some hip-hop instrumentals and made him rap about science to the class as a 'consequence'. What he did next amazed us all! This kid could go toe to toe with any of the hip-hop greats, and it was all improv! No preparation!

Tom McFadden, a good friend, created a user-friendly online application called Science Freestyle. This awesome platform gives students an opportunity to turn their science lessons into hip-hop showcases. Students who have a preference for auditory learning may respond better to this.

His programs turn students into YouTube rap sensations. I strongly encourage you to check out his work!

I also have to give a shout out to my mentor and Columbia University adviser Dr. Chris Emdin, who hosts an annual Science Rap Battle in New York City called Science Genius.

Dr. Chris Emdin preparing NYC students for Science Genius Competition cc: New York Times

3) Bill Nye the Science Guy & friends

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Bill Nye fixing his signature bow tie cc: Public Domain

If you're teaching students today, you may have grown up watching Bill Nye the Science Guy. You might assume this is too 'old school' for your students, but the show was ahead of its time in its approach to retaining student attention. Its jump-cut sequences and spouts of randomness resemble modern-day YouTube and Instagram content. I almost forgot how wacky this show was. Here are 48 full episodes of Bill Nye's revolutionary show.

Below are some modern STEM education YouTube channels that are immensely popular with my students:

4) Scratch Coding

Coding is an extremely valuable skill, but it can be tough to teach. Very few K-12 instructors know how to code. MIT really thought this through when they created Scratch, a free platform for younger students. Scratch teaches the essentials of coding by allowing students to pursue their own creative projects. Teachers, paraprofessionals or after-school practitioners can facilitate a scratch curriculum with 0 coding experience!

5) Citizen Science

Students may be unmotivated to perform science experiments unless their work will have a tangible impact. Below are some citizen science projects that allow students to contribute to society. Examples include searching for new planets and counting bug species in various locations!

Citizen Science Projects - PBS Kids

Hope these tips add value! I'm on a mission to make STEM cool for kids all over the world! Check out my website and email info@fascinatesci.com to learn more!