This image shows a group of tweens outside in a casual setting. The text reads "Summer Camp STEM."

8 Fun and Educational Summer Camp STEM Activities for Big Kids

So you’re planning a camp for big kids? The pre-teen and young teen crowd can be hard to please… But these fun, engaging, and educational summer camp STEM activities will give your campers a summer to remember. This summer your middle schoolers will have a blast while learning valuable 21st century skills.

Short on time? Grab these 4 ready-to-go summer STEM projects. They have everything you need to organize exciting and educational summer camp experiences.

This image shows a DIY bottle rocket and a worksheet that reads "Bottle Rocket STEM Challenge." The text on the image says "Summer Camp STEM."

Make Wind-Powered Cars.

Challenge your campers to explore renewable energy with this entertaining and educational STEM project. With a bunch of clean recyclables and a fan, they’ll have a blast creating and then racing wind-powered cars. You’ll inspire your students to care for their environment and take steps towards going green.

Construct Prosthetic Devices for Animals.

Another exciting STEM activity for summer camp is to have students design and construct prosthetic devices for animals. This project will teach your campers about engineering and design principles while also promoting empathy and compassion for animals in need. Start by introducing students to real-world animals with missing appendages (Youtube has lots of examples!). Then provide them with a variety of building materials, such as popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, cardboard, and tape to create their designs. Finally, they can test them out on stuffed animals. 

Design and Launch a Bottle Rocket.

Who doesn’t love launching rockets? Teach your campers about physics and aerospace engineering while they design and build bottle rockets. You’ll need empty plastic bottles, corks, baking soda, vinegar, and various other building materials to create the rockets. Then take them outside and let them fly! Who’s rocket will go the farthest? Who’s will launch the fastest? Can they modify their design and make it better? The STEM learning opportunities are endless.

Build DIY Fidget Spinners.

Check out this exciting DIY fidget spinner STEM challenge. With minimal prep and facilitation your big kids will be engaged and having fun, while developing their STEM skills. Grab some skate bearings and a variety of other building materials and let your campers use their creativity to design and build their own toy. Lastly, have them test how long their toy can spin.

Create Weight-Bearing Towers.

This is more challenging than it seems… Students compete to build the tallest tower that can support a set amount of weight on top. Make it even more challenging by choosing a wobbly object to sit on top… a ball is great! All you need are some random building materials (They could even be found materials like sticks, leaves, and litter) and your chosen weight to test the towers. 

Make Water Balloon Catapults.

Would summer camp be complete without a water balloon fight? You can make this fun tradition educational by challenging students to create a water balloon catapult they can use during the fight. Have students do some basic research on catapult design and get to work. Testing their devices in the development phase will be just as fun as the big event.

Create Plant Mazes.

Did you know plants can solve a maze? Thanks to phototropism or plants’ ability to move towards light, they can. 

Have students bring in shoe boxes. Use clean recyclables, such as cardboard and paper towel rolls to create the mazes inside the box. The box needs to have one hole at the end of the maze. When the box is closed, this should be the only light source inside the maze. Use tape to block out any other places light is peeking through. Then place a bean or pea seedling in a cup at the bottom of the maze and let it grow. In a few weeks, your plant should be pushing through the hole at the end of your maze.

This is a longer term project. It would work well if you have campers for several weeks or you can have students build their plant mazes at camp and take them home to observe.

Construct Egg Cars.

Your big kid campers will love this lively (and sometimes messy) competition. Invite students to use a variety of building materials to create a car that can protect a raw egg as it travels down a ramp and crashes into a barrier at the end. You can introduce forces concepts and Newton’s Laws of Motion to help them design the most protective car. When they are done testing their egg car creations, have students look for similarities and differences between the successful and unsuccessful car designs.

Looking for more support planning your summer camp STEM activities?

Do you need more guidance as you plan your summer camp STEM activities? We’ve got you covered! Check out these ready-to-go STEM challenges with printable and digital worksheets, links to background research, materials lists, helpful facilitation tips and tricks, and more. Plus, all of our activities are designed to be fun and educational – perfect for getting your campers excited about STEM!

This image shows 3 DIY STEM projects for middle schoolers, including a model space needle, a stuffed cat with a prosthetic leg, and a cell phone stand.

So what are you waiting for? Get planning and make this summer the most memorable yet with summer camp STEM activities. Your campers will be thrilled to have such a unique experience and learn something new in the process – it’s a win-win! So get ready, get set, and start planning for Summer Camp STEM activities today.

Yes, please!

Here’s to inspiring future scientists and engineers!

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