TWO DO IT YOURSELF STEM PROJECTS KIDS CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF
Do you have a child, a student, or an adult acquaintance that is a child at heart that is always experimenting, building new things, or tearing apart items in your home? Most of the time this behavior can be quite a pain- yes, we know it is hard to pick up a mess after having worked a long day. Still, you should be encouraging these behaviors: figuring out how things work, designing structures, robots, or experiments meant to beat common obstacles, and creative problem solving. These types of behaviors are common in almost all children but diminish as the child grows because there is simply a lack of support and encouragement. In fact, children may even be discouraged to engage in these creative behaviors because they may not perfectly align with the desired learning goals that the state mandates school-aged children to learn. What are you supposed to do as the adult that is most likely not in control of what your student is learning in school?
Adults have gained the right to say that they are more experienced at various aspects of life: relationships, common problems in school, awkward developmental phases in life, attraction to hobbies, and so on. Many adults could even say that they recognize potential in children and that it is not being developed as it should be. If you are one of these adults and you have a child in your life that needs a little outside encouragement, try introducing the following types of Do It Yourself projects to them. You me be surprised at what they add, how they change the project, or what they think, do, or say during the process of making any or all of these projects.
Build A Desalination Station
One of the biggest problems in the world affecting the most number of people is lack of access to fresh, clean, drinkable water. The human body can survive a few weeks without food, but can only survive 3 days at most without water- the number is less than this if the individual lives in a hot, dry, unforgiving climate. Solving this problem is a possibility, but it isn’t yet easy to obtain on the grand scale for a reasonable price.
To start: Picture a 3D pyramid. There are 4 corners to the base and one point to the top. The pyramid is formed with 4 equally sized triangles that lean on each other for support.
- Step One: Find a plastic or metal container capable of holding water.
- Step Two: Cut 4 equally sized triangles out of glass to form your pyramid. The square base that is formed should be slightly wider than the perimeter of the water-holding container.
- Step Three: Glue the triangles together and set on top of the base. When assembled your structure should resemble a house with an oversized glass roof.
- Step Four: Take 4 large straws and glue them to the bottom inside of each corner on the glass pyramid. This is where the desalinated water will drain.
- Step Five: Find 4 collection plates to place under each straw. These may be large collection plates or small collection plates. The size depends on the size you have created your structure to be.
- Step Six: Fill your plastic or metal container with salt water.
- Step Seven: Place your desalination station in a sunny place like on a porch, in the driveway, or on a windowsill and wait.
After a short period of time you will notice a collection of water forming on the inside of the glass pyramid that you created. Once the water gets heavy enough, it will start to run down the sides of the glass and into the points where you have secured your straw. The water will run down the straw and into the collection plate that you have placed there. This water is purified and ready for you to drink. You will know that this has worked because you’ll see a salty residue left in your metal or plastic container once all of the water has been heated and collected into your various plates.
Create A Solar-Powered Phone Charger
Technology is a very big piece of everyday life in such places as the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Australia. Children as young as 4 can be seen carrying and using their own smartphones and tablets. Unfortunately, it can be hard to charge these devices in locations that have lost power due to weather, or in remote locations without electricity.
To Start: You are going to want to collect the following materials before you start: nine 0.5 volt solar panels, one sheet of foam board for the base, a ruler, an exact-o knife, a hot glue gun (super glue or tacky glue are acceptable alternatives), and a charging cable capable of accepting a USB plug-in.
- Step One: Cut a piece of foam board to make your base. You can measure this into a perfect square using your ruler. Cut the base so that you can arrange 3 solar panels wide by 3 solar panels long. Make sure to leave at least 4 millimeters between each panel when you are measuring.
- Step Two: Line up your solar panels as measured before to ensure that you have kept your space when cutting.
- Step Three: Poke holes on either side of the solar panels- you do not need to poke holes at the tops and bottoms of each panel, only the sides. You’ll notice that the space between each panel will have two holes while the panels on the ends will only have one hole. These holes are to feed the wires from the panels from the front to the back.
- Step Four: Line up the panels so that positive wires sit next to negative wires and feed the wires through the holes. When you feed these wires through to the back, you’ll want to consistently want to pair opposites. The very first panel will have one wire that is NOT connected to any other panel and so will the very last panel in the square.
- Step Five: If you haven’t already done so, twist the ends of the wires together in a giant S formation so that square one connects to two, square two to three, square three to six, square six to five, and so on.
- Step Six: Take the charging cable that you gathered earlier and cut the wire so that you only use the receiving end (the part of the port you will plug your phone charger into).
- Step Seven: Tear away the protective layer of plastic or fabric to expose the wires. You’ll use the positive end and the negative end so you can cut away and discard the extra wires.
- Step Eight: Attach the positive wire of the charging port to the negative wire of one of your panels (this will either be square 1 or square 9). Attach the negative wire of the charging port to the positive wire of your remaining panel.
- Step Nine: Glue everything into place. Glue the receiving port to the border of the back of your base board.
- Step Ten: You can cut a back board to cover the wires but this is optional.
- Step Eleven: You can cut a stand to hold the device if you’d like but this is also optional.
If you have connected everything appropriately, you can put your charging board of panels in a sunny place and connect your device using your regular charging cord to the port you created on the backside of your charging board. You will know this works when your device starts charging.
The creative behaviors and critical thinking skills that children have as toddlers and young children are the types of behaviors and critical thinking skills that STEM professionals use on a daily basis to improve not only their lives, but your lives, and your children’s lives as well. There is no telling exactly how many problems there are in this world, but you can rest assured that there will always be something worth fixing, creating, or solving. Do not sit on the sidelines and watch these creative behaviors and critical thinking skills drain from your child as they grow older. You can do something to foster, support, and encourage these behaviors and skills. You have the power to help the children, students, and interested adults in your life reach their potential in these areas.