Teaching STEM, science, technology, engineering, and math subjects can be quite challenging, and rightfully so. STEM in education is often taught theoretically; for the most part, only a few topics are explained through experimentation. But that shouldn’t be the case as most aspects of said disciplines require practical demonstration. Therefore, having demonstrative STEM projects for middle schoolers or even high schoolers, for that matter, is essential.
Educators, be it a homeschooling parent or a public school teacher, should come up with engaging real-life applications to explain complex concepts to students better. For that reason, we decided to share some interesting STEM projects for 5th graders that you can try and make learning fun for young learners.
Conducting Properties Of Water
From a very young age, kids are told to stay away from switchboards if their fingers are wet, for touching a switch with a wet finger can be dangerous and electrocute their hand. Practically demonstrating such a reaction is naturally not possible because nobody wants to be jolted by electric current.
However, a simple experiment can be used to show how water conducts electricity- with the help of a jar of water, two copper (or any other electrical) wires, small button batteries, scotch tape, and an LED diode. Make an open circuit using cables and attach the light with the batteries. Submerge the other two ends of the wires in water and turn on the batteries.
You can also try using different types of water, such as distilled, muddy, and so on.
Step by Step Instructions @ Rookie Parenting – Conducting Properties of Water
How Bile Works
Bile is a fluid that breaks down fat in the body. To show kids how that happens, you can carry out a little demonstration.
Pour some milk into a dish and pump different food colorings in four corners on top of the white liquid. Take a cotton ball, dip it into dish soap, and then place the immersed side in the milk (in the center of the dish). The food colors will automatically begin to move around as the soap starts to process the fat in milk.
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Dish soap here works as bile as both share similar chemical composition.
Step by Step Instructions @ Simple Southern – Digestive System
Live Acid-Base Reaction
Perhaps one of the easiest STEM projects for 5th graders, live acid-base reaction can be carried out with supplies available in every home.
Fill up a plastic bottle with equal parts vinegar and water (don’t fill the bottle up to the mouth, keep the quantity up to 1/4th of the total volume). Put a generous amount of baking soda in a balloon (don’t load it up to the top, a spoon of bicarbonate should be enough) and attach it over the bottle’s mouth. Let the white powder fall into the water/vinegar mixture. Once that happens, the acid in vinegar and base in the alkaline baking soda will react, releasing carbon dioxide that will blow up the balloon.
If you want to have a bit more fun, you can add paints to the equation. Fill up a ziplock bag with a water-vinegar mixture and squirt paint in it. Pour some baking powder into the ziplock and seal it. Once the two compounds react, the bag will explode, splashing the color all over. If you choose to take the second route, be sure to do it in the open and cover up the surrounding area to keep it safe from getting painted.
Step by Step Instructions @ All for the Boys – Acid Reaction
Play With Acoustics
Want to show students how sound waves work? Well, then we have a brilliant idea for you.
Use a container and fasten elastic bands around it. Pull at the strings and watch how sound is generated and reflected.
This STEM experiment works exceptionally well at stimulating the kids interested in music as it also enables young learners to understand how a guitar produces sound.
Step by Step Instructions @ Science Sparks – Play with Acoustics
The Float Or Sink Experiment
Results can be pretty unpredictable for students when dropping different objects in water to see which ones will float and which will sink. The easiest application of the will it float-will it sink principle is the orange-drop experiment.
Logically speaking, when a heavy item is thrown in the water, it should sink while a lighter one should float. But oranges seem to defy that logic.
Take two containers of water and two oranges. Drop the first fruit in one container and put the second orange in the other after peeling it. Let the students be surprised by the results they see.
The heavier orange, the one with the rind, will float, while the one without the peel will sink. It’s an incredible way to teach young learners about density and how it makes the two oranges float and land in the water.
Step by Step Instructions @ Cool Science Experiments
STEM courses can be incredibly engaging if taught with a little bit of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. If you want to jazz up your lessons, try the mentioned STEM projects for 5th graders or come up with your own.