1. Go Geocaching
One of the best way to get kids up and moving during the lazy days of summer vacation is through geocaching! Geocaching is the process of searching for geocaches – containers hidden by fellow Geocache explorers that are pre-approved by the Geocaching company. There are over three million caches across the globe, with the purpose of each cache being to bring you on an adventure, big or small. The idea is that you – the explorer – will see a new side to your surroundings, whether it’s diving into the nooks and crannies of your hometown or straying away from the tourist-y sites in a new city. These caches usually have logs to keep track of who’s found the cache, objects from the surrounding area such as feathers or shells, or even some store-bought toys for the kiddos to play with. Going geocaching is the perfect way to safely explore and treasure hunt, and is great for family road trips, too! Some STEM careers that require the exploratory skills that geocaching fosters are environmental exploration and wildlife conservation!
2. Citizen Science Projects
Citizen Science Projects are a way for kids to partner with scientists to both help them with their research and help the kids themselves learn about various subjects first-hand. CSPs, in National Geographic’s words, consist of the volunteer and the scientist(s) gathering data and doing hands-on research. These tasks can range from counting birds to testing bodies of water. National Geographic hosts a few CSPs, though a more extensive list can be found on Wikipedia. CSPs are great for kids of all ages, and your family will be helping to advance science! Citizen Science Projects also helps develop research and analytical skills, which are skills needed in STEM careers such as crime scene investigation and cyber security analysis!
3. Library events
If you’re staying local for your vacations, a day trip to the library can be more fun than your kids expect it to be! Besides checking out books on your favorite STEM subject, you can also keep an eye out for any STEM-themed library events going on during the summer. Events such as book readings, learning to use social media and computer crash courses are all activities that your local library may be hosting. And make sure to make a day out of it; pack PB&J sandwiches with juice for lunch and go for milkshakes afterwards!
4. Beach-themed Activities
Always a fun idea for a daycation, a trip to the beach gives moms and dads plenty of opportunities to teach kids about different eco systems. Some scientific arts-and-craft projects can also come from a trip to the beach. Little Bins for Little Hands has directions for a few different beachy projects, such as creating a beach-in-a-bottle or crystal seashells. As for when you’re actually laying on the sand soaking up sun, you can take the time to show your little ones the different sea creatures that inhabit beaches, or explain to them how the moon affects the tides and waves.
Career connection! Careers such as fashion design and video game design incorporate plenty of the artistic skills that arts-and-crafts activities nurture! Creative STEM careers such as fashion design are explored in the Arts & Creative career exploration courses!
5. State and National Parks
There are fifty-eight national parks in the United States, in addition to dozens of heritage areas and historic sites. If you’re taking a trip to a park, there will be tons of chances to teach your kids about geology, history and wildlife. The famous Yosemite National Park in California, for example, has camping spots, hosts an immersive Environmental Living Program and offers a Parks as Classrooms Ranger Program, where park rangers teach kids about an array of subjects ranging from flora and fauna to geology to watersheds! Other popular National Parks include Mammoth Caves, Acadia, Shenandoah, and more! Also, if you’re going to multiple parks this summer, make sure to enroll in the National Park Travelers Club. The Club is for people who frequent national parks; you’ll be able to collect stamp cancellations to track what parks you’ve visited and also gain full access to the NPTC Master Database. You can even earn certificates and awards if you visit enough parks!
The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding STEM activities for your family. With so many different events being hosted by different organizations, you’re sure to find something for every member of your family!