Valentine’s Day STEM Activities To Get Your Heart Racing
February brings about the convergence of several important holidays: both National Inventors’ Day and International Girls and Women in Science Day on February 11th, and Valentine’s Day on the 14th. We thought that this would be a perfect time to do a mash-up of the 3! The tutors of The Community Classroom present Launch into Love: 6 Valentine’s STEM Activities to Get Your Heart Racing. So prepare for some cheesy puns and some awesome science, and we’d love to hear your ideas to celebrate love and STEM as well.
Please note that these activities were not invented by us. So many teachers thought of these first—we’ve just modified them with the names and given them a Valentine’s Day science spin!
Valentine’s Day STEM Activity 1: Fizzy Little Thing Called Love
Materials: candy hearts, various liquids (make sure one or two has bubbles), clear cups, a spoon
Directions: Pour each liquid into a separate cup. Plop one candy heart in a cup, one at a time. Observe!
Why We Love It: This is such a good conversation starter for STEM conversations with kids! Keep reading.
Questions To Ask: What do you notice? What do you wonder? What is melting? What is dissolving? What is a gas, solid, and liquid? What is causing the bubbles? It truly has access points for learners of all ages. We tried this out with a two-year-old scientist and she loved it!
Valentine’s Day STEM Activity 2: Don’t Go Breaking My Heart Design Challenge
Materials: Red cups (any size works), cardboard, scissors, tape
Directions: Give your child or students the challenge and the materials. The challenge: Build a vertical heart out of cups. Rules: You can’t cut the cups, only the cardboard.
Why We Love It: Open-ended building tasks are the best! It’s all about trial and error, about figuring out what works and what doesn’t work, and discovering principles of design (like the importance of a foundation). Kids can do this, adults can do it. And there are so many 21st century skills built into this when working with a team: collaboration, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, perseverance, and creativity.
Questions To Ask: What worked well? What didn’t? What else could you try? What makes a strong tower? What makes a tall tower? What tips do you have for someone making a tall, heart tower?
Valentine’s Day STEM Activity 3: Our Ballooning Love Design Challenge
Materials: balloons, tape. We recommend using pink and red balloons to keep up with the Valentine’s Day theme.
Directions: This is similar to the design challenge in activity 2, but with balloons! They must work with their team to build the tallest tower.
Questions To Ask: What worked well? What didn’t? What else can you try? What makes a tall tower? What tips do you have for someone making a tall balloon tower?
Why We Love It: This one is adapted by one of our Community Classroom tutors, Christina Webster. It’s open-ended, fun, and hilarity will ensue! And your children or students will construct their own ideas about design properties (like the importance of a good, wide, solid foundation!). And see the activity above for all the beautiful 21st-century skills from the previous design challenge. There is so much to love here.
Valentine’s Day STEM Activity 4: Cupid Draw Back Your Bow
Materials: clothespin, 15 feet of string, tape, a plastic straw, a balloon with an arrow drawn on it
Directions: Give your children or students the materials. Propose the challenge: They must use all the materials they have to create a way to move the arrow (on the balloon) 10 feet. They are allowed to cut and tape materials.
Why We Love It: IT’S ANOTHER OPEN-ENDED gem! You can give a time limit for this and any of these, or you can give them all the time they need. And if you need help or pointers, check out this similar activity we based ours on.
Questions To Ask: What worked? What didn’t work? What is friction? What is drag? What is thrust? What tips do you have for someone making their own design?
Valentine’s Day STEM Activity 5: Launch Into Love
Materials: This heart popper packet (we placed heart stickers on the popper to make it fit the theme!), pen, wooden ruler, scissors, a variety of rubber bands, chipboard
Directions: Challenge your children or students to build a rocket popper using the materials provided.
Why We Love It: This one is adapted by one of our Community Classroom tutors, Christina Webster. We’ve included a template, recording sheet, challenge sheet, and reflection sheet to make your life easier. Thanks, Chris!
Questions To Ask: Check out the printables linked above. Happy hopping!
Valentine’s Day STEM Activity 6: You Melt My Heart
Materials: acetone nail polish remover, styrofoam (we used a sheet of styrofoam that came in a package to protect furniture), a solid and safe bowl to place the acetone in (do not use a styrofoam bowl), a mask for fumes (hey—we all have them, might as well use them!). You can cut the styrofoam into a heart to stay on theme.
Directions: Place a few tablespoons of acetone in the bowl. Start by putting in one piece of styrofoam. Observe the reaction. Beware the fumes of the acetone, so wear a mask, goggles if you have them, and don’t lean in too much! Make sure to do this in a well-ventilated area. And with adult supervision. Also, make sure to use the right kind of styrofoam (the old-school white cooler type). A lot of what is used now as packing peanuts is less plasticky and more degradable and earth-friendly, which will not be impacted by the acetone.
Questions To Ask: What do you notice? What do you wonder? How much do you think you can put in? What is happening?
Why We Love It: This is just so fun to watch. And mind-blowing at times. It looks like magic but it’s not—it’s science! We should also shout out loud that even though the name of the activity says melt—this is not melting! Melting requires heat. This is not actually dissolving either. Styrofoam is 95% air and 5% a polymer named polystyrene (chain of styrene). When the air disappears the chain falls apart and you are left with the gloopy, gluey mess.
Looking for more STEM? Check out the following resources: