Updated: Apr 2
I love theming STEM to what's going on in the world. Easter is such a popular time for little ones - think Easter eggs and Easter bunnies - so it's a fun time to do some STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) activities and learn together.
Here are five of my favourite ideas to keep you busy over the Easter break from school or nursery or for some fun at home over the weekend.
1. Bouncy Eggs
This one is my favourite because it's pretty cool for adults too. I'll tell you the science, but just trying it out and having a go with little ones is enough.
Take two eggs and put one into a glass of water and one into a glass of vinegar.
Observe the two eggs carefully - you should see tiny bubbles start to appear on the egg shell and then float to the surface in the vinegar. This is the start of the vinegar reacting with the egg's calcium carbonate shell.
Leave the eggs and keep coming back to see what's happening. You may see a frothy layer the colour of the egg on the surface of the vinegar as the shell disappears.
After a day or so take the egg out of the vinegar and carefully wash off any remaining shell.
Gently feel and bounce the rubbery egg. The shell has all disappeared and the egg is now inside the egg's membrane only. See a video of a bouning egg on my Facebook page here.
Try bouncing until the egg breaks open, then feel the thick membrane that was under the shell.
I do this activity as well as egg dying and a special melting point experiment in my Little STEAMers Easter Eggs-Periments class which is still available to watch on demand here.
2. Floating & Sinking Eggs
If you have any of those little plastic eggs this is an idea you can try at bath time or in the garden on a sunny day.
Close the eggs and predict whether they will float or sink. Test and discuss how they are filled with air.
Think of other things to seal inside the eggs and predict whether each item will make the egg case sink or float.
Discuss which things made the egg sink and which made the egg float - is weight a factor? Which objects are heavy/light?
Science ✔️ Maths ✔️
3. Blowing & Dying Eggs
I actually tried blowing some eggs the other day for the first time since I was a kid and it was surprisingly satisfying and also pretty gross.
I then tried a few different methods of dying the eggs until I finally found one that worked well (below). If you can't get your eggs to dye well then just paint and decorate them instead. I'd also recommend white eggs if you can get them as they will colour slightly better.
Push through a small hole in the top of an egg with a safety pin. Do the same at the bottom. Make each hole bigger by wiggling a cocktail stick. Also use the cocktail stick to wriggle inside the egg and try to pierce the yolk.
Blow hard through one of the holes over a bowl to watch the egg come out of the opposite end. This is the gross part but really fun for little ones to watch - yep, it looks like snot.
Once all the egg is out, rinse the egg in water and leave to dry.
To dye the egg, fill a mug (just higher than egg height) with very hot water from the tap. Add one teaspoon of vinegar (malt vinegar worked best for me) and some drops of food colouring. The vinegar reacts with the egg shell and helps it to hold its colour.
Hold the egg down under the water. This is the hard bit as the blown eggs do like to float up, being filled with air. If you can wedge the egg down you'll avoid getting wrinkly colour-stained fingers like I did the first time.
The longer you can leave your egg submerged the better and the deeper the colour will get, but try at least 10 minutes. Once you take it out leave it on a drying rack.
Try a few different colours by mixing food colouring.
Science ✔️ Arts ✔️
4. Egg Drop Challenge
This is a great one for slightly older children and to do with an adult. You don't have to use an egg, but could use something else breakable or two pieces of duplo stacked together that you try not to separate when they drop.
Choose a height (e.g. waist height or a table or chair) and discuss what would happen if you dropped a raw egg from that height.
Ask how you could stop the egg from smashing. They might suggest cushioning the landing.
Explain that you need to make something for the egg to go inside to keep it safe when it falls onto the hard floor and start to think of ideas.
Build an egg drop contraption together from junk materials and things around your house and test it out. There are a lot of egg drop challenge ideas you'll be able to see online for inspiration and to see how others did.
Once your contraption works, try a higher drop and measure the drop height.
Tip: Try with other things until you think it might work before bringing in the real egg or you'll get through dozens!
Science ✔️ Engineering ✔️ Maths ✔️
5. Planting in Eggs
Easter coincides nicely with Spring starting and children love to plant and grow. This idea uses eggs because that's the theme of these ideas but obviously you can use whatever you like to plant in: yogurt pots, plant pots, jars etc.
Break an egg in half and clean the shell thoroughly.
Fill the egg shell with some soil or compost.
Make a small hole and plant a seed or bean to grow.
Keep watered and somewhere light indoors.
Watch every day as the seedling appears and grows and talk about how it needs light and water.
You could plant outside when the weather is warm enough and the seedling has outgrown your container.