6 Easy No Prep STEM Activities that Kids LOVE!

Krystal DeVille

Easy No STEM Activities for Kids

As you may know by now, engaging in STEM activities is a great way to get your kids or students learning, thinking, creating, and problem-solving.

You want to get children involved with them, but some of the STEM activity sets out there are so expensive and complicated, and you are too busy to be gathering the materials and coming up with ideas for these types of experiments yourself!

Fortunately, to help you out, today we will be checking out some no-prep STEM activities with things you may already have around the house or classroom that are both easy and kid-approved and would make great additions to any lesson plan!

We will be looking at kids’ activities that fit into six different categories of STEM learning, including coding, surface tension, light, engineering, chemistry, and math, so you can find the right fit for your kids’ or students’ interests. They are good activities for younger kids, preschool kids, and middle school kids.

1. Coding

Binary letter chart for kids

What you will need:

What kid does not like the idea of secret codes? For coding-related no-prep STEM activities, children just need beads, pipe cleaners, and a binary letter chart to create secret code bracelets! First, children will need to choose just two colors of beads to represent the 0s and 1s that make up binary code.

Then, referring to the binary letter chart (okay, maybe there is a LITTLE prep work in that you will need to find one and print it off), they can spell words in binary code using the beads. The beads can then be strung together in order on a pipe cleaner or even some string to create secret code bracelets!

The word they choose can be something as simple as their names, maybe a favorite character like a superhero, a favorite word…whatever they come up with!

If you’re looking to get into coding for yourself or your kids, we have an article that will answer some questions you might have. Coding for Kids: How Long Does It Take to Learn Coding?

Coding for kids

2. Surface Tension

Surface Tension activity

What you will need:

For surface-tension-based no-prep STEM activities, you can try an experiment with common household ingredients. First, fill a bowl with milk, and then add a drop or two of various colors of food coloring in different spots of the milk.

Then, grab a cotton swab, dip it in some dishwashing liquid, and then gently touch the food coloring in the milk. This will break the surface tension of the milk, causing the colors to disperse!

Surface Tension activity with food coloring

If you do this a few times, you will start to see the colors swirl together and apart, almost creating a kind of a tie-dye effect.

3. Light

light reflection activity

What you will need:

If you are looking for specifically light-based no prep STEM activities, a light refraction experiment is quick and easy! First, fill a clear jar with water. Then, draw an arrow on a piece of paper (any direction is fine) and set it up vertically. Now, in front of the paper, just before the arrow, put your water-filled jar.

Make sure you can see the arrow through the glass. When kids step in front of the jar and look through it, they will notice that the arrow seems to be pointing the other way through the glass jar!

This occurs because when the light travels from air to water, it slows down, so it changes direction a bit when it hits the water and gives a bending effect.

4. Engineering

engineering spaghetti bridge

What you will need:

  • Spaghetti
  • Marshmallows

An engineering-related no prep STEM activity using food! For this STEM activity, kids can use uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows to create 3D structures.

They can just stick the full spaghetti strands into the marshmallows or break them up into smaller pieces so they can customize the lengths of the sides of their structures during this building challenge.

You can challenge them to create specific types of buildings or other things, or just let their imaginations run wild! You may want to keep an eye on those marshmallows, though, as a few of them will likely “disappear” into some mouths during this STEM challenge!

5. Chemistry

What you will need:

If you are looking for chemistry-related no prep STEM activities, look no further than slime! You may already be familiar with slime as kids love its squishy texture, but did you know you can make it easily at home and it makes a great science experiment?

To do this science experiment, first, dissolve about a teaspoon of Borax into a ½ cup of water. Then, mix about a ½ cup of glue and ½ cup of water into a separate bowl, and feel free to mix in any extras, like food coloring or glitter, to customize your slime.

Finally, add the borax mixture to the glue mixture and stir with a spoon or just use your hands, and you have slime!

The basic chemistry behind this is that the flexible bonds that characterize slime are created when the boron in the Borax is mixed with the glue’s polymer chains. When this chemical reaction occurs, you have slime! It is an easy STEM activity with a great STEM lesson.

If you want to learn a little more about making slime, please check out our article dedicated to making slime at home with kids.

6. Math

Math tic-tac-toe

What you will need:

All you need is paper and a pencil to practice some math-related no prep STEM activities! We used a whiteboard for easy clean-up. You can find these small whiteboards that we used here.

One super easy STEM project for you to try is math tic-tac-toe, and what is nice about this is that you can customize it to your child’s current math skill level.

All you need to do is set up a tic-tac-toe board, and then instead of leaving each X and O spot blank, write a math equation in there.

If kids want to claim a particular spot, they first need to solve the equation. If you want to do a little prep work beforehand, you can always write out little equation cards with answers on the back that you can reuse for each spot on the tic-tac-toe board.

Tic tac toe math with a white board

What is also nice about this easy STEM activity is that when it is done with two children, they can solve their own equations and keep their partner in check by making sure they are answering theirs correctly too!

There are no-prep STEM activities for nearly every STEM-related subject out there! Whether kids are looking to explore coding, surface tension, light, engineering, chemistry, or math, or you are just looking for a boredom buster, you can easily encourage their interests with minimal effort and yield maximum results.

Wrapping Up

With these quick, no-prep STEM activities, you can start a fun activity in only a few minutes. If you’ve found some STEM activities that are quick to set up, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll try them out!

Are you looking for more experiments? Please take a look at our article, 10 Awesome 5-Minute Science Experiments.

1 thought on “6 Easy No Prep STEM Activities that Kids LOVE!”

  1. Thank you for some great ideas suggested here, with the activities requiring such readily accessible materials.

    A great website !


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