Trina Deboree
Teaching and Learning

Teaching and Learning

3 Terrific Whys To Do A Summer Makerspace STEM Challenge

Summertime is filled with trips to the beach, playing outside, and using your imagination. But what do you do if all you are hearing from your kids is What can we do today? {One thing I will say is when did my generation and the following suddenly become the cruise director for our kids?! When I was little, the answer was going outside and don’t come back in until it is dark. And we drank from the hose!} Yes, I am guilty too. I felt the constant need to entertain my children. I’ll get off this soapbox! Just keep that in mind. ;)

One terrific summer activity for kids is a cool (get it, it’s hot!) summer makerspace/STEM challenge! This summer activity is a great way to get kids thinking about science, building and creating ideas, and having fun!

Are you new to Makerspace? Check out 5 Astonishing Reasons Every Classroom Needs a MakerSpace. {This includes learning spaces at home too!}

The short answer is summed up perfectly by Thinkers and Tinkers-

What do you do in a Makerspace? The simple answer is you make things.  Things in which you are curious.  Things that spring from your imagination that inspire you.  The informal, playful atmosphere allows learning to unfold, rather than conform to a rigid agenda.  Making, rather than consuming is the focus.  It is the craft, engineering, technology, and wonder-driven.
— Thinkers and Tinerers

3 Terrific Whys To Do A Summer Makerspace STEM Challenge

1. Beat the Summertime Blues

3 Terrific Whys To Do A Summer Makerspace/STEM Challenge

At the beginning of the summer kids, parents, and teachers are like woo hoo! {Unless you are teaching summer school or homeschooling year long and then this is perfect for you anyway!} Summertime starts off with grand ideas of how we can finally use our time to play, vacation, sleep in and finally finish our home projects (or maybe that is just me!). 

Quickly adults realize how long summer can feel. Shortly we are thinking uh oh how are we going to keep our children or students from experiencing the summertime blues? {The I don’t know what to do, and the Are we there yet of summer.} When these questions start rolling in day after day, this is when makerspaces are the perfect answer. 

When we have an area or even gather some materials for kids to design, create, build, and test out ideas, we are sitting on a goldmine! Kids will come up with the most refreshing ideas if we allow them to discover and wonder. It doesn’t take a lot of money either. Think toilet and paper towel rolls, red Solo cups, arts and craft materials, cardboard boxes from your Amazon orders (is it just me again?!), and even sticks and rocks from outside! Straws, cotton balls, toothpicks, and popsicle sticks are gold, as well. Pretty much anything goes. In fact, when you challenge your kids to design and create something, you will be shocked at what they think of to use. (There is an engineer in all of us. Some of us are just really good at thinking outside of the box. On the other hand, some of us need ideas, and that’s okay too!)

2. Encourages Problem Solving, Creativity, and Critical Thinking

Problem-solving, creating and critical thinking are my favorite aspects of makerspace/STEM challenges. I love when learning happens by accident or better yet during what feels like play. Building and tinkering feel like play. When we challenge our kids to solve problems, such as How can we address the issue of being too hot to play outside, we give them a chance to think critically about solutions. We are also giving kids a creative outlet in the designing of solutions.  

I also love how easy it is to integrate science and math into challenges. For example, I recently created a Summer Makerspace/STEM challenge: Build a Pool. Besides having to design a pool that would hold water for three toy figurines using some specified materials (although you could use whatever you have or want to use), science topics such as solids, liquids, and gases and force and motion become a natural part of the conversation. Measuring, counting, and estimating occur seamlessly in a challenge such as this, as well. Need a technology connection? Why not watch a time-lapsed video on pool creations? There’s a great one on YouTube! That’s the beauty of Makerspace/STEM projects. They are filled with thinking and learning.

Here's a quick look at the Build a Pool STEM challenge:

3. Super Fun

Best of all Summer Makerspace/STEM activities are terrific and fun! They may be the answer to your What are we doing today? questions!

Need some ideas for summer projects? Here is where Pinterest can be your best friend. Type in summer makerspace/STEM challenges, and you will find more than you will ever have time to complete in one short summer. ;)

In case you are afraid you might go down the Pinterest rabbit hole, I’ve created a list of challenges that I will be doing/creating with and for my kids.
Build a Pool
Create a waterslide that goes into that pool
Designing a rollercoaster
Building a tent or even a fishing pole

The list can go on and on. 

I created an engineering journal to go with my challenges. I think this is an excellent way for kids to think through the engineering design process- ask, imagine, plan, create, improve. This journal, the challenge, teacher/parent guide, vocabulary, K-2 engineering standards, criteria and constraints list, ways to make the projects more difficult, and extension ideas are in the complete Summer Makerspace/STEM Challenge: Build a Pool pack is available in my store on TpT. 

Want a FREE copy of the single pool challenge card? Click below to get it sent to your email! 

I hope you and your students/children enjoy summer challenges! Hopefully, this gives you a few moments of time to enjoy your summer time, as well. 

Happy Teaching and Learning

Another fun challenge is to build a waterslide into the pool you created the day before!