12 Days of STEM | By Blocks Rock!

The holidays are rapidly approaching! In this blog, we provide you with 12 ideas for incorporating STEM learning into this holiday season.

On the first day of STEM, my family gave to me…the gift of learning!

The holidays are rapidly approaching! In this blog, we’d like to provide you with 12 ideas for inexpensive ways to incorporate STEM learning this holiday season.

Day One: Blocks Rock! Advent Calendar

What you Need: Blocks Rock! Block game, markers and stickers/labels

How it works: “[My son] decided the first step was to experiment with some fun advent calendar design ideas. He shared his ideas for what it should look like, and was sure to test out how stable his structure ideas were. Once he had a configuration that he liked, he counted the blocks just to be sure he had used all 24. I then asked big bro how he was intending to label each block so that there were dates on his advent calendar. He got to work writing the numbers 1-24 on the white dot stickers using a color of his choice. This was great for his counting and number formation skills.”

Learn more about this idea here.

Day Two: Hey Clay Dinos *As featured in our gift guide*

What it Is: “Pick one of the six dinosaurs - The stegosaurus, tyrannosaurus rex, brachiosaurus, pachycephalosaurus, triceratops, or the pterodactyl. Then, follow along with the interactive 3D step-by-step instructions to masterfully mold it, one simple shape at a time.

As kids create, they learn useful techniques - rolling perfect spheres, cylinders, facial features, textures, and more - until finally, once the last mold is built, they can't wait to try inventing their own creatures and characters!”

Price: $16.95

Learn more about the gift here.

Shop our 2020 STEAM Gift Guide here.

Day Three: Melting Magic

What you need: 3 matching jars with lids and water, ice cubes and snow.

How it works: “Fill the first jar with water and put on the lid. This is your control. We are working on developing our understanding of the scientific process, and using controls and controlling variables is part of that process.

The next jar we filled with ice cubes. Use cubes, not shaved ice. You want there to be lots of air around the ice cubes. Secure the lid.

Finally, we went outside into the cold and scooped up snow and I had the kids pack the third jar full of snow. I encouraged them to pack as much snow as they possibly could into the jar. Secure the lid.

Now set the jars in a safe place to see what happens as they melt.” Learn more about the idea here.

Day Four: Grinch Bath Bombs

What you Need:

  • “2 cups baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup fine Epsom salts
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon polysorbate 80
  • 20 drops peppermint essential oil
  • Green mica powder
  • Bath bomb molds
  • 3-4 cubes of clear melt and pour soap base
  • Red soap color
  • Silicone heart mold
  • Spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Microwave safe bowl or measuring cup
  • 2 mixing spoons
  • Microwave
  • Parchment paper (optional, but helps with clean up especially when kids are helping)”

How it works: Step 1: Make soap hearts. Step 2. Make bath bombs

The Science: “So what exactly is going on with bath bombs? They are a simple base – acid reaction. However since the ingredients are dry when packed into the mold, they do not react. They require the addition of water to trigger the reaction. It’s some fascinating chemistry and one of our favourite parts is adding water to the left overs in our mixing bowl and watching the eruption!”

Learn more about the idea here.

Day Five: Design your own holiday-themed 3D Blocks Rock! structure.

What you Need: Blocks Rock! Block game, Blocks Rock! 3D Companion App

How it works: The free Blocks Rock! 3D Companion App combines the Blocks Rock! blocks with challenging 3D structures. Download the app and try out some of the structures to get an idea for how the structures can look!

Then, take time designing holiday-themed 3D structures you could imagine being a part of the app. To take it to the next level, your children can draw the structures on a piece of paper so your children can build them again and again.

Here are a few ideas for structures you can design yourself:

  • Santa
  • Reindeer
  • Gingerbread house
  • Penguin
  • Christmas tree
  • Snowman

When you’re done, take a picture and tag us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter! We’ll be sharing our favorites.

Day Six: Milk Plastic Ornaments

What you Need:

  • 1% milk
  • White Vinegar
  • Measuring Cup
  • Bowl
  • Fine Mesh Strainer or Cheese Cloth
  • Microwave or Stove
  • Spoons
  • Paper towel
  • Silicone Molds in a festive design
  • Paint (any paints will work) and brushes
  • Ribbon or ornament hooks
  • Hot glue gun
  • Clear coat spray

How It Works: “This is a chemistry experiment working with polymers. Polymers are molecules that have formed a regular chain structure. Milk contains molecules of a protein called Casein. During this reaction between warm milk and acid (the vinegar) the casein molecules unfold and form long chains called a polymer. The polymer can be molded and shaped which makes it a plastic. In this case it’s called casein plastic or milk plastic because of the type of molecules that created the plastic. Once dry they form into a very hard and durable plastic structure.”

Learn more about the idea here.

Day Seven: Snow Ball Catapults

What you Need: common materials such as craft sticks, rubber bands, ping pong balls, newspapers, cans, etc.

How it works: “Using the engineering design process along with math skills, teams of students will build two catapult designs from common materials (popsicle sticks, rubber bands, newspapers, magazines, cans, and other recyclable materials). Each team will then test at three stations: Distance, Accuracy, and Power. Included are follow-up math problems for enhanced learning.”

Price: Instructions are $5.75 for a digital download on Teachers Pay Teachers

Learn more about the idea here.

Day Eight: Fizzing Candy Canes

What you Need:

  • Candy canes
  • Play tray
  • Pipettes
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

How it Works: sprinkle the bottom of your tray with baking soda. Get the candy canes wet and then place them in the baking soda, covering the candy canes. Use a pipette to pick up vinegar and spray it over the candy canes. Add vinegar until the candy canes stop fizzing. Learn more about the idea here.

Day Nine: Try an Activity from the Blocks Rock! STEM Winter Bucket List.

What It is: Our list of 29 brain-building activities for winter STEM fun has classic favorites like building a snow fort or indoor blanket fort and also has activities you might not have thought of like creating an ice lantern, making fake snow, and more. Check out some of our ideas and download the winter bucket list at the end of the blog post!

Click here to check out our STEM Winter Bucket List.

Day Ten: STEM Model Motor Engine Kit

What It Is: “An authentic 4-cylinder model engine from Discovery Kids. Demonstrate how the pistons drive the crankshaft, which makes the belts and fan turn.“

Price: $19.00

Learn more about the idea here.

Day Eleven: Rudolph Balloon Races

What you need: string, straws, tape, balloons and some decorations (construction paper, poms, googly eyes and glue). You will also want some kitchen clips to help keep the balloons inflated while you decorate them.

How it works: “After blowing up your balloon, clamp the end so no air escapes. Cut out your antlers and tape or glue them onto the balloon along with googly eyes and a bright red nose (of course Rudolf must have his red nose!). Once you have decorated your reindeer simply tape a straw to the top and run a string through the straw.

Anchor the ends of the string to chairs or something similar. When you are ready remove the clip and you are off to the races!”

Learn more about the idea here.

Day Twelve: Make your own Christmas Ornament Kit.

What it is: “This DIY Christmas ornaments set contents lots of Christmas classic decoration items, like wooden Christmas sticks, double-sided adhesive tape, Christmas ribbons, doll eyes, felt paper, and felt ball. All of them are a combination, which is complete and practical for your beautiful and attractive decoration project, allowing you to decorate your house easily and fast”

Price: $18.99

Learn more about this gift here.

Happy holidays from the Blocks Rock! Team!

Throughout the holiday season, we’re hosting sales on both blocksrock.com and Amazon! Until December 8th, get $20 off Blocks Rock! Click here to shop on Amazon or click here to shop on blocksrock.com.

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