Annie’s STEM Lab: Snowy STEM

by Annie Savinon

This February, it might be a fun idea to bring the snow indoors! Here are some age-appropriate activities to do with your littles during this chilly, chilly month! And of course, we are adding some fundamental STEM learning moments into these experiences! 

  1. Sensory Snow (age: infant-toddler): For exploration and using our senses, this sensory bin can be ready in moments with items you already have in your home! Gather a large plastic Tupperware bowl, a towel, and some snowflake or snowman cookie cutters. Next, head outside and scoop up a pile of fresh, clean snow into your bowl. On a solid surface of your home, layer the towel underneath the bowl with the snow on top. Now, add in your cookie cutters, and you are ready for your little to explore the chilly snow, in the comfort of your own home! As a STEM addition, challenge your little to build a structure that will hold the cookie cutter on top! As shown on the photo, Alyssa from Where Imagination Grows, adds some fun beads to her sensory bin to add details to the snowman! (Safety first: This is a wonderful idea if your child understands these are not edible and are a choking hazard.)  
  1. Snow-Dough (age: toddler-5 years old): Snow dough is a fun alternative to snow for your little to create some fun structures while working on their fine motor skills. Diane from Homan at Home shares an easy-peasy two ingredient recipe, with items you might just have around your home! This mixture is made up of equal parts lotion (1 cup) to cornstarch (1 cup). If the mix is more on the liquid side, add more cornstarch, if the mix is more on the powder side, add more lotion. She then adds that you can add some sparkles into the mix for a fun shimmer as well! Once you have the mix created, encourage your little to make some basic shapes or build a snowman! To add a fun STEM twist on this activity, grab an ice cube tray and have your little fill in the cube sections with dough. Once it is loaded, flip the tray upside down and pat the tray to have the cubes come out! Now you have “bricks” of dough, where you can build a house, wall, and a sturdy structure!  
  1. Snow Experiment (age:5-11 years old): This is a very fun and engaging science experiment to complete with your school age child! This snow experiment is called Snowstorm in a Jar created by Mombrite. This experiment requires a few materials: baby oil, white paint, Alka-Seltzer tablets, and a clear glass jar. First, you are instructed to fill the jar a ¼ full of water and paint, to create a milky appearance. Then, you are to fill up the jar with baby oil to the top, and then let the mixture settle. You will see the oil will separate to the top part of the jar, and the milky mixture will stay at the bottom on the jar. Mombrite goes to explain that this is due to the different charges of the liquids! Then, have your little break up the Alka-Seltzer tablets, and then place them in the jar all together and close the lid. Once the lid is closed, watch the magic of the snowfall appear! If your child is interested in the bubbling of the snowfall, you may want to explain the science behind the magic! Mombrite shares that the Alka-Seltzer tablets react due to the different chemical properties of the oil and paint mixture. This includes a reaction occurring between the sodium bicarbonate in the baking soda with the citric acid and hydrogen oxide in the water. It would be a fun trial run to see and compare the changes if once tests what happens with just a half of Alka-Seltzer tablet, compared to two tablets! 

I hope February brings you many enjoyable snowy days! 😊