National STEM Day is November 8 – a day designated to the wonders of science, technology, engineering, and math. To help you celebrate STEM in style, we’ve put together three of our very favorite, holiday-themed STEM smarts & crafts activities perfect for your Thanksgiving Day festivities and winter break fun.

Simple Physics Turkey Races

Add some get up and go to your gobble gobble with these crazy-fun turkey races perfect for perking up the party on turkey day!

Here’s what you’ll need:
Balloons
Construction paper
Tape
String
Plastic straws
Chip clips or binder clips

STEM Day Activities

Here’s what you’ll do:

Blow up one balloon per racer but don’t tie off the ends. Instead, twist the end, then attach a kitchen “chip clip” or binder clip to keep the air from escaping.

STEM Day Activities

Cut your construction paper into feathers, waddles, and googly eyes and tape the pieces to your “turkeys”.

STEM Day Activities

Set up your race course by placing two chairs about 8 feet apart (you’ll need one set of these chairs for each racer). Cut a 9-foot section of string for each racer and tie the loose end of a length to one chair.

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Thread a straw through the untied end of the string, then pull the string taught and tie to the opposite chair.

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Using tape, attach the top, center of the balloon to the straw. Make sure to line the straw up with the release point of the balloon, for straighter, faster flying.Pull the balloons back so the ends are touching the chairs, pinch the balloons above the chip clips, and remove the clips.

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Call “On your marks, get set, GO”, let go of the balloons, and watch as your turkeys race to the finish line!

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Let’s talk turkey about physics! Remember that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction (thanks, Newton!). When you blow up the balloon, you are filling it with air. When you release the chip clip, you are releasing the air, creating pressure out of the back of the balloon. This release creates an equal and opposite pressure on the front of the balloon, propelling it forward.

 

Crystal Snowflake Christmas Ornaments

Celebrate the coming winter with crystal snowflakes you make yourself!

What You’ll Need:
Pipe cleaners
Borax
Food coloring
Wide mouth glass container like a measuring cup
Pencil, craft stick, or spatula
String or an extra pipe cleaner

STEM Day Activities

What You’ll Do:

Cut your pipe cleaners in half, then cut some of them in half again.

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Twist the pieces together to form one-of-a-kind snowflake patterns, making sure that your snowflakes will fit into your container without touching the sides or bottom. (Trim the ends with scissors if need be.)

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Tie one end of the string to the center of your snowflake and the other to your pencil or craft stick and check to make sure your snowflake will fit without touching the sides or bottom of your container.

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Bring a pot of water to a boil. For every cup of water you pour into your container, add 3 tablespoons of Borax and stir (this is a job for a parent as the water is boiling hot!). Add more Borax and stir to dissolve, continuing until the water won’t accept any more Borax (it’s okay if there’s some left in the bottom of the jar). Then add a few drops of food coloring and stir.

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Hang your snowflake in the water by balancing your pencil or craft stick across the top of the jar. If your string is too long, twist it around your pencil until it keeps the snowflake from touching the bottom.

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Leave your snowflake overnight. Carefully pull your snowflake out of the jar and shake off the excess crystals to reveal your crystalized snowflake!

STEM Day Activities

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Borax can be beautiful! Hot water molecules are moving really quickly, which leaves room for the Borax to dissolve between them. As the water cools, the molecules move closer together, “squeezing” the Borax out.

 

Winter Marshmallow Dens

Turn those cocoa fixin’s into a science lesson about the winter habits of some of your kids’ favorite animals with this tasty activity!

What you’ll need:
Toothpicks
Marshmallows
Paper
Crayons or marker
Snowy Animal Toys

What you’ll do:

Ask your kids to imagine where they might go to hibernate if they lived out in the wild. Have you kids draw their ideas on paper.

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Set out the marshmallows and toothpicks and challenge your busy builders to construct their drawings.

STEM Day Activities

Once they’re done, see if someone can build a snow den, an igloo, or a walled fort. The possibilities are endless (and delicious!).

STEM Day Activities

With snow covering the ground, fewer plants are growing, which means less food for hungry animals like bears, bats, and squirrels. Hibernating slows down these animals’ metabolisms and reduces their body temperatures, which means they need less energy to survive and can go without eating for several months at a time. Hibernating animals need a safe, hidden spot to snuggle down for the winter months, similar to the caves and burrows you just built!

 

HAPPY STEM DAY!