STEM projects are a great way to engage and challenge middle school students, while encouraging them to explore new concepts and develop problem-solving skills. If you’re looking for some ideas, this guide provides 13 inspiring STEM project suggestions that will excite any learner.
Short on time? Grab a ready-to-go middle school STEM projects for lots of learning and fun!
1. Learn about Newton’s Laws and Construct Egg Cars.
Newton’s Laws of Motion is an important concept to understand, and constructing egg cars is a great way to explore this. Students will be able to design, build, and test their own car out of limited materials that will protect an egg during a crash. This project requires understanding (and application) of concepts like force, mass, and acceleration.
2. Create a Model Corn Maze.
This is a fun twist on the traditional marble maze. First, students can learn about how real-world corn mazes are designed and created. Then they will use the engineering design process to design and build a 3D marble maze modeled after a corn maze! Using cardboard and other clean recyclable materials or building bricks your students are sure to create something awesome!
3. Design a Prosthetic Device for an Animal.
In this experience, students research the field of prosthetics and assistive devices for animals like birds, cats, and dogs. They can discover the latest designs of prosthetic devices and how these helpful tools work on different animal species. After researching the process and physics involved with creating animal prostheses, students can design their own unique device that could be potentially acted out in real life or modeled on a stuffed animal.
4. Explore Rocketry and Launch Your Own Bottle Rocket.
A fun way to explore the principles of aerodynamics and rocket science is by launching a bottle rocket. Bottle rockets can be made from common household materials and can teach students about things like air pressure, thrust, and gravity. Plus, it’s a lot of fun watching their homemade creations take off! Students will learn the basics of how to design, build, and launch their own bottle rocket in this inspiring STEM project.
5. Build Wind-Powered Cars and Learn about Renewable Energy.
If your middle schoolers are interested in green energy and sustainability, they can learn and explore the power of wind with this inspiring STEM project. With a few everyday items and some simple instructions, they can build their own miniature wind-powered cars. After designing and building their cars, students can use a fan to race them and test their solutions. Through this process, students will gain an understanding of climate change and become aware of the different ways we can create sustainable energy.
6. Apply Chemistry Concepts to Design a Cold or Hot Pack.
In this exciting STEM project, middle school students examine how energy is absorbed or released in a chemical reaction. They will learn about endothermic and exothermic reactions. Then they will use household materials and their new chemistry knowledge to design a hot or cold pack. You can have them observe the temperature changes over time. How fast did the temperature change? How long did it last? Middle schooler students will love this project!
7. Investigate Thermal Energy and Design an Insulated Cocoa Cup.
Temperatures are dropping and it’s the perfect time for a hot cocoa party… but first we need insulated cups to keep our hot cocoa hot! Students can investigate thermal energy, insulators, and conductors. Then use the engineering design process and household materials to create an insulated cup. Finally, test the cups and celebrate with hot chocolate of course!
8. Construct Model Space Needle Towers.
Are you looking for an engaging engineering activity that promotes critical thinking, problem solving skills, and teamwork? This STEM design challenge will do all that and more! In this engineering activity, students can take the role of civil engineers by designing and building a free-standing tower that can support a weight at the top of the structure.
9. Create DIY Fidget Spinners.
Check out this exciting DIY fidget spinner STEM Challenge! In this middle school STEM challenge, students will use simple materials and the engineering design process to design and build their own fidget spinner toy. First, students learn about the limited supplies available and research the physics behind fidget spinners. Next, students will use simple materials to create their own fidget toy and test how long it spins. Your middle school students will love showing off their DIY fidget spinner!
10. Practice Environmental Engineering and Create Habitats for Native Pollinators.
Now that spring has sprung, the weather is getting warmer and keeping middle school students engaged is harder. Now imagine capturing your students’ attention with an awesome spring STEM challenge, while getting outside and enjoying the nicer weather. This exciting pollinator house design challenge will let you do exactly that! n this activity, students will learn about native pollinators. Then they are tasked with designing and building a home for mason bees using household materials.
11. Design Protective Packaging to Protect a Cookie Shipped Through the Mail.
What happens to packages as they are shipped through the mail system? How can we protect fragile items as they travel through the mail? Challenge your students to create protective packaging for a cookie being shipped through the mail. Then have them simulate the cookie’s travels as they shake, bang, and throw the packages. Finally, open the packages and observe the cookies for cracks and crumbs.
12. Use Electrical Engineering Principles to Power Paper Circuits.
Is there a special event or holiday coming up? Have your students celebrate by creating light up cards! They’ll learn about electricity and circuits as they create a plan to power-up their card with LED lights and a button battery. They’re sure to create something they are proud of and learn a lot along the way!
13. Explore Phototropism with a Plant Maze.
Are you looking for the perfect plant science project? Or maybe you need a spring STEM activity to keep your students engaged as the weather gets warmer. This exciting plant maze design challenge is sure to keep your students’ interest. In the plant maze challenge, your students will learn about phototropism or plants’ ability to turn toward a light source. Then they will design a maze for a plant to grow through to demonstrate this phenomenon. The plant mazes can be created from cardboard shoe box, tape and additional cardboard scraps. Plant seeds in a cup at the bottom of the maze and allow light to come through a hole at the top of the box. Over a few weeks, students will observe their seedlings and determine whether their plant mazes were successful!
Looking for more support planning middle school STEM projects?
Check out this great selection of ready-to-go middle school STEM projects! Each project will challenge your students and improve their problem solving skills, while providing you with all the planning and facilitation guidance you need.
All the STEM projects include:
- PDF, Google, and Easel versions of the student project packets
- Links to background research videos and articles
- Detailed teacher notes that include suggestions for facilitating the project and differentiation
- A slideshow to assist with synchronous or asynchronous lesson facilitation
- A rubric for easy grading
- End-of-project celebration certificates
Grab a done-for-you STEM project today so you can take a break from planning and know your students will still be learning and having fun!