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11 DIY Winter STEM Projects to Stave Off Cabin Fever

Snow days don't have to be a snore.

When the weather outside is frightful, these seasonally appropriate do-it-yourself projects will prove absolutely delightful. From figuring out how blubber helps polar bears stay warm to growing your own snowflakes (like Elsa!), here are 11 sneakily educational STEM activities that will transform any afternoon from humdrum to fun.

  1. Make a crystal vista

Tired of the swirling white outside? Simple household supplies like salt, water, ammonia, and food coloring are all the supplies you need to grow your own fantastical crystal landscape in every hue imaginable.

STEM Lesson: Chemistry

 

  1. Create icy suncatchers

Frozen fans can manifest their own “frozen fractals all around” by transforming castoff plastic lids and some Epsom salts into glittering icy suncatchers that look just like giant snowflakes!

STEM Lesson: Chemistry

 

  1. Play with pinecones

Curious tykes can explore the science of why pinecones open and close by conducting their own kid-led inquiry using whatever environmental variables they choose.

STEM Lesson: Botany

 

  1. Salt some ice

Why do people salt their driveways, sidewalks and stairs just before an impending snowstorm? Discover what salt does to ice with this easy-peasy ice-fishing experiment.

STEM Lesson: Chemistry

  1. Pile on some blubber

There’s a good reason why polar bears don’t need to kit out in hats, gloves and scarves every time they venture outside. It’s blubber. Find out how insulating all that fat really by test-driving your own “blubber” (read: shortening and some plastic baggies) in an Arctic setting of your own making.

STEM Lesson: Biology

 

  1. Excavate treasure

Even the youngest ankle biters will be able to lead their own expedition to free some frozen Legos from their icy shackles. Provide some salt, hot water, utensils, and even a hair dryer and watch as they explore which “glacier”-melting strategies work best.

STEM Lesson: Physics

  1. Whip up a storm in a jar

Snowstorms don’t have to stay outside (though they probably should). Kids can conjure up their own wintry blitz in a jar with baby oil, white paint, water Alka Seltzer, and some glitter for extra pizazz.

STEM Lesson: Chemistry

 

  1. Take a guess

Snow is basically just frozen water, right? But how much water is actually in snow? Fill up a mason jar with snow, markdown estimates on the jar with a marker, and see whose guess comes closest to the truth when everything melts down.

STEM Lesson: Physics

 

  1. Light up some ice

Cah-cah-cold temperatures? Fill up a balloon with water, stick it outside, and wait for it to partially freeze. When you hear only a bit of water sloshing inside, cut open the balloon, and pour out any remaining water. Finally, grab a tea light and plop it into the hollow of the orb. Voila! An ice lantern!

STEM Lesson: Physics

 

  1. Bounce a snowball

Take the snowball fight indoors by engineering a super-bouncy “snowball” from liquid starch, Elmer’s glue, and some water. The best part? This snowball won’t melt in your hands—or precious floors.

STEM Lesson: Chemistry

  1. Build a storm

Borrow a page from our real-life Goldie and make a storm cloud pendant light that will light up the dreariest of days.

STEM Lesson: Engineering

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