Hacking STEM - Bite Size Activities

"Bite size" STEM activities

Introduce your students to basic STEM concepts using these short, hands-on activities. All lessons use everyday materials and take only one class period to complete.

Coil winder (skill)

Winding coil can be time consuming, especially if you need a large number for a classroom. Here are a few methods we’ve found to be efficient, but we encourage you to create your own technique using materials you have on hand, such as a rolled up piece of cardstock or a broom handle.

Activity length: 10 minutes


Photograph of a finished coil winder.

Flashlight (project)

In this activity, students build a flashlight controlled by a switch out of simple, everyday materials like copper tape and paper clips. They learn the basics of electrical engineering to create a successful circuit. They'll do this by making sure the connections between LEDs, paper clips, switch contacts, and copper tape are strong.

Activity length: 30 minutes


Photograph of a finished flashlight.

Flex sensor (skill)

You can buy a sensor to make a robot, but store-bought sensors get expensive quickly. Especially when you need several for a classroom. In this activity, by using everyday materials like copper tape and cardboard, your students can build a sensor for only one dollar.

Activity length: 30 minutes


Photograph of a finished flex sensor.

Homopolar motor (project)

Students create a motorized propeller using just a battery, a screw, a magnet, and a wire. Then, they explore how changing the propeller shape affects the overall movement of the propeller.

Activity length: 30 minutes


Photograph of a finished homopolar motor.

Lemon battery (project)

In this lesson students take on the roles of electrical engineers, chemical engineers, battery scientists and mechanical engineers. They work together collaboratively to build a battery from a lemon, alligator clip wires, and an LED. Once the battery has been completed, they use the steps of an engineering design process to design and construct a switch for their battery system.

Activity length: 45 minutes


Photograph of a finished lemon battery.

Light quilt (project)

Let your students’ creativity shine! Combine electrical engineering skills with artistic skills to design a light-up felt quilt in a pattern of their choice.

Activity length: 30 minutes


Photograph of a finished light quilt.

Solar house (project)

In this activity, students explore how solar panels work. They practice mechanical engineering skills to construct a mini-house. This house is made out of paper and secure a solar panel to the roof so that the house can generate its own power.

Activity length: 45 minutes


Photograph of a finished solar house.

Wave machine (project)

Students work together to build a wave machine. Then they watch as force transfers through wooden skewers from one end of the machine to the other.

Activity length: 30 minutes


Photograph of a finished wave machine.