Category: STEAM

Science + Art: Mushroom Spore Print Car Painting

Fun nature science + art idea for kids: how to make a cool car painting, using mushroom spore prints for wheels, and learn about mushroom biology!

Incorporating mushroom spore prints in kids art

Ever since we first tried making mushroom spore prints, we’ve been dreaming up fun ideas to incorporate spore printing into art or craft activities. Our mushroom monkeys were our first idea, and this mushroom spore print car painting is our second  – and I think it turned out quite well!
Mushroom spore print car art for kids
 

Suitable for

Try this art + science activity with kindergarten or primary (elementary) school aged kids. Bumble Bee was 7.5 years old when we did this at home.

 

Science + Art - paint wheels with mushroom spore prints
 

How to create a mushroom spore print car artwork

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Salt Crystal Hearts

Make cute salt crystal paper hearts, fun science craft idea for Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, or just because!

Salt Crystal Hearts Science Craft STEAM idea for kids

We’re becoming salt crystal obsessed in our house. They’re so much fun to make, for little and big kids alike! And they’re a great way to introduce science concepts like dissolving and evaporating, making a solution, and cubic crystals.

This time we made cute Salt Crystal Hearts, as part of Red Ted Art’s 31 Days of Love series. Click here to see our activity!

How to make salt crystal heart kids science craft

This will be added to our crystal science activities page, or you can also find more heart-themed science activities on our new Valentines Day science page, including:

Salt Crystal Paper Snowflakes!

Stunning winter or indoor snow day craft that doubles as a cool crystal science lesson – how to make salt crystal paper snowflakes!

Salt Crystal Paper Snowflakes - crystal science project for kids 1

OK, I think I’m slightly addicted to making salt crystal crafts – we began with our ‘snowy’ salt crystal fir trees, then we made our salt crystal ghosts, and now salt crystal snowflakes! I think these snowflakes are my favourite so far: they’re quite stunning, and I love science projects that only need everyday household materials – no need to duck to the shops first!

Salt Crystal Snowflakes 8

Suitable for

This is would be a great activity for a group middle schoolers (8-10 year olds), who should be able to do most aspects by themselves. Younger kids (even preschoolers) can try this too, but they’ll need more help. (The salt crystal part is easy enough, but it’s actually the folding and cutting of the paper snowflakes that little kids will need the most help with). For reference, Jewel was 9 and Bumble Bee 7 when we did this.

Salt Crystal Snowflakes 13

How to make Salt Crystal Snowflakes

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Graph Art: illustrating data

Illustrate data! Use the shape of a line graph as inspiration for kids’ art.

Graph Art - illustrating data

I first came across the of idea of illustrating data, or using a line graph as the inspiration for an artwork, when an awesome barrier reef line graph artwork by Jill Pelto popped up on my Facebook feed. Not only is Pelto’s work artistically amazing, but I like the way her illustrations add context to the data being presented, encouraging the viewer to think about the data in a deeper way. Cool, huh?

So, one day when Jewel was feeling poorly and stayed home from school, we decided to do a little homeschooling and give our own version of “graph art” a try.

Suitable for

Jewel was almost 9.5 years old when we did this. I think this could be adapted to suit grades 3-6, or extended for early high school kids. Actually, it’s kind of fun for adults too.

How to create Graph Art (or Data Art)

These are the basic steps we followed:

  1. Think of a topic that you want to illustrate
  2. Research the available data, and see if you can find data that can be easily graphed as a single line graph.
  3. Conceptualise how you could use the shape of the line graph to create an illustration that is relevant to the topic.
  4. Create your graph art!

I love the way this activity combines several of the pillar STEAM (or STEM + Art) pillar subjects in the one open-ended activity. If you’re looking at trends in scientific / climate data, then you have the Science pillar right there. If you enter the data into a spreadsheet and create your own graph, then that’s your Technology and Maths ticked off. And of course the artistic component is the Art pillar. And because kids can choose the topics they’d like to research, and what they’d like to draw, it’s lovely and open-ended. So, tick, tick, tick, tick! (Let’s just leave the ‘Engineering’ bit for next time. 🙂  )

Jewel creating Graph Art

For our first artworks, Jewel and I looked at global temperature data from NASA. We thought that the annual mean temperature anomaly, (i.e. how much the annual temperature is different from the average), looked very spiky, like the tops of flames, which is a relevant image, as the graph is showing that temperatures are heating up! We downloaded the original data into a spreadsheet, created a basic line graph, printed this onto paper, and then used this as the basis for our art. Jewel and I used a combination of pencils, gel pens and marker to create these two artworks below.

Jewel global land-ocean temperature art

Global land-ocean temperature line graph with fire art zoomed in

Let me explain this graph a little bit. The x axis is the years, from 1880 (the year that climate data was first reliably recorded), until 2018 (last year). The y axis shows the temperature anomaly, or how much temperatures vary from the average. Can you see the dotted line above? That’s represents zero change from average. So, if the climate were staying more or less consistent, then you would expect the temperature to fluctuate on either side of this dotted line as the years progress. But the graph above shows a distinct upward trend, meaning that the temperatures are becoming a much higher than average. The top of this graph is 1.5 degrees higher than average, which is the point that many scientists say is the ‘tipping point’ for climate change. And if you follow the graph’s trend, that tipping point is fast approaching…. Scary stuff.

Jewel wanted our next graph art to focus on something more positive. She wants to focus on what we are doing to fix the world’s problems! So we started brainstorming positive topics that we might be able to find data for. We found these “good news graphs“, which are all very cool! The decreasing cost of solar electricity has a lovely downward curve which would make a great graph art topic.

But in the end Jewel and I decided to try illustrating the increase in electric vehicle sales in the US, partly because we’re considering buying an electric car ourselves, and partly because we found an electric vehicle sales graph we could print straight from the Internet (thus saving us the steps of having to find / download the data and create the graph ourselves). We used black marker and watercolour paints.

Increasing Electric Vehicle sales graph

For more math art ideas, my blogging friend Karyn from the fabulous Teach Beside Me blog (which, incidentally, is one of my favourite blogs of all time!) has just released an awesome new book called “Math Art & Drawing Games for Kids” that looks really cool. It has over 40 fun art projects that also build math skills! You can find it on Amazon here (please note, this is an affiliate link). But don’t tell Jewel about it yet, as she might be getting this under the Christmas tree this year!

Or for more arty or crafty STEM ideas, you might like to check out our STEAM activities page. (This page is live updated whenever we post a new idea, so be sure to check back often).

You might also like to follow our Go Science Kids and Fun Science for Kids boards on Pinterest.

And, of course, you can always subscribe to our newsletter, to receive all our latest activities straight in your Inbox.

Graph art - illustrating graphs - fun STEAM activity for kids

12 Cool and Cute Science Crafts that Kids will Love!

Do you know someone who loves crafts? And also loves science? She’s going to love this collection of science craft ideas!

Cool and cute science crafts that kids will love! As recommended by Go Science Kids

Science crafts are a fun way to introduce science concepts and vocabulary, in a way that crafty kids can relate to. They’re a way that children can learn that science can be fun, hands-on, creative and cool.

They’re also a great segue to more STEAM activities. I’ve found that, when my daughters attempt a science crafts and discover that it’s fun, they’re more comfortable with experimenting next time by changing variables or coming up with their own designs (which, of course, is where the STEAM magic really happens!)

Here are 12 of our favourite cool and cute science craft ideas – including some of our own, and some from around the web. Hopefully there’s something here that your science-loving crafty buddy would like to try!

12 Cool & cute Science Crafts For Kids

Science Crafts collage 1

Try your hand at making crystal snowflakes! They look great as a hanging ornament, especially if they can catch the light. They’re also a fun way to learn about geology, crystal formation and super-saturated solutions…

Make beautiful recycled plastic flowers and learn about plastics, polymer chains, and melting points.

These little monkey puppets are made using mushroom spore prints! Cutest ever way to learn about mushroom biology…

Science Crafts collage 2

Learn about learn about sound waves and amplification while making this  cute DIY iPhone speaker, then pop on some cool music and dance!

Decorate your own cute robot craft, that can balance on almost anything! How? It’s all about centre of gravity….

I love these DIY spinners! When you spin them, you can see colour theory in action. Design your own, and experiment with different colour and pattern combinations!

Science Crafts collage 3

This easy glow-in-the-dark constellation pillow is the perfect DIY for budding astronomers!

Create your own sun-print t-shirt! This is a fun way to create your own one-of-a-kind t-shirt that has a cool science-y story behind it.

Make an articulated hand model and learn about the bone and tendon structure of the human hand. Awesome hands-on biology. (See what I did there?)

Science Crafts collage 4

I just adore this homemade kaleidoscope! And such a creative way to explore reflections, symmetry and optical illusions…

Are your girls into the fidget spinner craze? Here are some templates you can use to make your own, and learn about how centrifugal force and angular momentum helps them spin!

Here’s one for preschoolers. What makes night? Make an earth, take turns being a flashlight sun, and find out!

Cool & cute science crafts

You can find all our own science craft activities here. (And remember to check back as we’re always adding more).

You might also like to follow our Go Science Kids and Fun Science for Kids boards on Pinterest.

And, of course, you can always subscribe to our newsletter, to receive all our latest activities straight in your Inbox. We’d love to have you join us!

*Images used with permission.

DIY Magnetic Marble Run for the Fridge Door

How to make a magnetic marble run for your refrigerator door. Fun STEM (or STEAM) activity for kids!

make a magnetic marble run for your fridge door contains affiliate links* to similar products

Suitable for

You can adapt this activity to suit preschoolers, kindergarteners or young school-aged kids. My daughters Jewel and Bumble Bee were 6 and 4 years old when we first made this.

We made this fridge-door marble run ages ago, but I’m only just getting a chance to share it now, because, you know, kids and life and stuff…

It was lots of fun, and super simple to make.

How to make a Fridge-Door Marble Run

We used:

Fridge door marble run!

Of course, you could make this with plain cardboard rolls, but decorating them with washi tape is fun, and much prettier!

I used a hot glue gun to stick magnets onto the side of our tubes (mainly because the results are quick, and I’m impatient!). You could also use regular PVA craft glue, and just wait overnight for it to dry. If you use self-adhesive magnets, you may have to add extra glue between the cardboard tube and the magnet so they stick ‘properly’.

Stronger magnets are best, especially if you plan to use heavier balls, like marbles or steel balls, as they have more force behind them. If you’re only planning on using pompoms, then you could get away with weaker magnets (like the promotional ones you sometimes get in your letter box).

Decorate toilet paper rolls with washi tape & stick on magnets to create a magnetic marble run for the fridge door.

My daughters (Bumble Bee, 4.5 years old and Jewel, almost 7 years old) helped decorate a few of our cardboard tubes, and I finished the rest. Stripes are easy and look great!

Testing out the marble run

We created some shape variations by cutting an angle in the end of some of the cylinders, or by cutting a small section out of the side of another. (These variations are great to have later, when the kids are trying out different marble run designs.)

Creating magnetic marble run piecesOnce you’re done creating and decorating your tubes, pop them on the fridge, and wait for the kids to come and play! (I *might* have played with them a wee bit too. It’s fun!)

Magnetic marble run for your fridge door - fun science for kids

Make a magnetic marble run

Some questions to ponder:

  • How many zig zags can you incorporate into your design?
  • Use a stopwatch to time your marble run. Can you modify your track to make it quicker? Slower?
  • Test your marble run using a heavier smooth ball (eg a marble) vs a lighter rough ball (eg a pom pom). Do you need to modify your design to suit the ball type? How does the type of ball affect the speed?
  • How far does your ball roll when it comes out of the end of marble run? Can you modify your design to get the ball to land in a particular spot?

Make a colourful DIY magnetic marble run

Fun Science

There’s a number of factors that influence your marble run design.

The first is gravity. Gravity is the force that pulls objects downwards (towards the centre of the earth). It’s what causes the marble to roll downwards.

The second is energy (and conservation of energy). The faster an object is moving, the more energy it possesses. When objects collide, energy can be transferred from one object to another, changing their motion. When a ball hits a zigzag in the marble run, the energy is transferred from the ball to the marble run wall, and then back into the ball, causing the ball to change direction.

The third is force (and the relationship between energy and force). The faster and heavier an object, the more force it will have. Heavier balls will require a slower track (or stronger magnets), else the force of the ball will push the track out.

The fourth is friction. Friction occurs when two objects rub against each other (slowing movement and creating heat in the process). The texture of the ball and/or the track will affect the friction.

Make a DIY magnetic marble run for the fridge using toilet paper rolls and washi tape!

Science isn’t the only subject that can be introduced here. You could easily turn this into a playful STEM or STEAM (STEM + art) activity:

  • Science – see above! Marble runs are a classic physics activity covering gravity, energy, force and friction.
  • Technology – You could use a digital stop watch to time the marble run.
  • Engineering – taking in the various forces into account, testing and making design modifications are all classic engineering activities.
  • Math – estimating, measuring and comparing times is all great maths practice. Likewise, estimating, measuring and comparing how far the marble will roll. You could record results in a table.
  • + Art – decorating your tubes! We used washi tape, but you could also paint the cardboard tubes or draw patterns using markers…

Make a DIY magnetic marble run - for your fridge door!

For more physics fun, check out our Physics Experiments for Kids archives, including:

Make a magnetic marble run for the fridge door - STEAM activity for kids

You might also like to follow our Go Science Kids and Fun Science for Kids boards on Pinterest.

And, of course, you can always subscribe to our newsletter, to receive all our latest activities straight in your Inbox. We’d love to have you join us!

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