3 Free STEM Activities for Kids

November 8 is National STEM/STEAM Day, a holiday to encourage and inspire kids of all ages to lose themselves in the worlds of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math with STEM activities for kids. Now is the perfect time to encourage a love of learning for STEM. Statistics show few American students pursue STEM fields, but the need for STEM-oriented job skills is skyrocketing. The computing industry’s rate of job creation is 3x(!) the national average in the U.S. Unfortunately, research shows not only will we not have enough people to fill these jobs, but that the biggest gap will be among women who are expected to hold only 20% of computing jobs by 2025. Today is a great day to encourage everyone, especially girls, to fall in love with STEM/STEAM.


Help celebrate National STEM Day today or any day. Get started with these free STEM activities for kids to enjoy at home or in the classroom:

1. Complete a Superhero STEM Challenge

Left Brain, Craft Brain offers many fun and easy activities that introduce kids to the scientific method through art and science projects. Using the Superhero STEAM Challenge Cards kids can grow kryptonite crystals or build an Arc Reactor. Download the condensed version for free and channel your inner superhero!

2. Make a Robotic Face

Curiosity Machine, a STEM program run by nonprofit Iridescent, offers a wide variety of challenges teaching kids and their families everything from how to make a robotic face to building a self-driving car game using common household items. For families or teachers interested in continuing STEM education, the AI Family Challenge is another free program they offer inviting children ages 8-15 and their families to learn about artificial intelligence through hands-on challenges and then identify and solve a problem in their community.

3. Build a Rocket

Buggy and Buddy offers projects that inspire creativity and self-confidence in kids while promoting learning and fun. In their free straw rocket activity, kids learn science as they design and then launch their own rockets using straws.


We hope these activities inspire you, and the kids in your life, to explore and learn about STEM on National STEM Day and beyond.

STEM SUPERHEROES: Meet Ms. Moreno, the 4th grade teacher changing the way parents see technology

112th Street STEAM Academy is an elementary school located in one of the poorest areas of Los Angeles. For most of its 50 year history, 112th Street has been a typical public elementary school, but faced the additional challenges that come with serving an area affected by generational poverty and disenfranchisement. The school recently became a STEAM Academy – which means they’re committed to aligning their curriculum to state and national science standards, closely engaging science teachers, and are eligible for additional funding for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) programs.

We’re proud to be working with 112th Street Academy this year as part of the AI Family Challenge. Led by Criss Moreno, a 4th grade science teacher at 112th Street, the AI Family program is very popular at the school, an achievement in itself, as Ms. Moreno told us that the school struggles with parent engagement. Generally, at events or activities targeted at parents she would see the same 10 parents over and over again. For the AI Family Challenge, however, Ms. Moreno recruited 20 families, all of whom have been actively engaged – “it’s the best parent turnout we’ve had. We never get that many parents in a room.”

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How you can explore new technology together as a family: Mother-Daughter AI Innovators in Detroit

Christina is 9 years old. She loves dancing, art, and science, and every morning she recites her own affirmations to remind herself of her inner strength and values.

Dina is Christina’s mom. She encourages and supports Christina to try new things, reminds her of her beauty and her intelligence, and helps find new opportunities to continually help Christina explore her curiosity. So when the community resources center where Christina takes dance lessons announced they would be offering the Curiosity Machine AI Family Challenge, Dina signed them up, excited by the opportunity to learn more about science and technology. With that, Christina and Dina became part of the community of nearly 7,000 students and parents  participating in the AI Family Challenge across the world.

Since then, Dina and Christina have attended every session of the program, learning more each week as they work through progressively harder projects. For Dina, it’s led to her feeling more positively about AI –  “I feel like I’m open to AI, I think it benefits our society, but [there’s] a small percentage that feels like will it take over… but after the AI class, it gives you more of the insight on how safe it can be vs. a human as an example. It gives you behind the scenes insight.”

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Family Interest in Artificial Intelligence

Parents Look For Ways to “Tech-Proof” Their Family for Impact of Artificial Intelligence

A recent study commissioned by Iridescent reveals 86% of parents want new ways to learn critical computer skills outside traditional classrooms such as taking a class, joining a club, or participating in events for more guidance on at-home education. The online study, conducted by VeraQuest, surveyed parents of 3rd – 8th graders to better understand their views of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and their children’s learning experiences. In addition to new approaches to learning, the study found parents do not understand the extent to which AI is already integrated into their everyday lives, but an overwhelming majority (92%) understand that technology, such as AI, is rapidly advancing and their children need to learn about these new technologies to be prepared for the future.

Today, only 36% of children receive technology education outside of their school, and parents expressed concern in the current gap between their child’s interest level in learning about future technology and their preparedness for it. These trends are consistent with studies conducted by Google and Gallup, which found interest in computer science learning continues to be strong, but all students do not yet have access to these learning opportunities in class. The education gap is especially prominent in low-income communities. “We often talk to concerned parents who are wondering how to provide their children the tools and skills they need to have a bright future as technology and the skill sets needed to succeed rapidly evolve,” said Tara Chklovski, Founder and CEO, Iridescent. “We want to help these parents feel confident and optimistic about their family’s future in a world filled with new technologies. That’s why we created the Curiosity Machine AI Family Challenge.” Through the Curiosity Machine AI Family Challenge Iridescent is filling the education gap with immersive AI curriculum for children and their families. The program introduces AI to underserved families in a way that fosters a deeper understanding of AI and its real world applications and makes technology education accessible to all communities.Parents learn alongside their children as they create AI-based products that solve problems in their community. “My daughter very much likes science,” said a mother surveyed in the study. “I think [the Curiosity Machine AI Family Challenge] will give her an upper hand in the [AI] field as well as allow her to be as creative as she wants to be in building skills for her future.” Iridescent Curiosity Machine AI Family Challenge Family

Additional study findings for AI education:

Fears and Misperceptions Around AI

  • Our research found that 85% of parents understand that new AI technology develops rapidly, but less than 20% of parents know that Facebook, targeted ads, or other recommendation engines use AI technology. There is real danger the lack of AI knowledge and its rapid development will widen the “digital divide,” or information gap, between parents and technology.

Interest in Exploring New Technology

  • Regardless of their concerns, we found that parents still had a positive outlook on the future of technology. 63% of parents believe AI will be used to make the world a better place and 78% were especially interested in learning more about AI.

Join the conversation

Iridescent is hosting a series of panel conversations with leading AI and technology companies and researchers. Join us for a deeper dive into this new study and a thoughtful conversation about how to support families, parents, and communities in the face of a rapidly changing world. # # #

About the Survey

Methodology The survey was conducted online from January 11th to January 17th, 2018. The sample was comprised of 1,566 respondents in the United States ages 25+ who have a child in grades three through eight. The sample was constructed from U.S. Census proportions to be representative of the population based on age, income, education, race/ethnicity and geography. Targets were also used for residential status and grade level of child. The low-income group (585 respondents) also had targets for each of the above variables. These targets were created to be specifically representative of families earning under $50K annually with a child in third to eighth grade.

Rationale Iridescent, in partnership with the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and NVIDIA Corporation, is encouraging families to learn about Artificial Intelligence technology through the Curiosity Machine AI Family Challenge. Over the next two years, the Curiosity Machine AI Family Challenge will invite 3rd – 8th grade students and their families to explore core concepts of AI research, apply AI tools to solve problems in their communities and have an opportunity to enter their ideas into a global competition.

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