If there’s one thing that has become abundantly clear over the years, when it comes to STEM studies for kids, it is that kids who get hands on experience in complex mathematical and scientific theories are far more likely to understand them.

The more practical examples you can build into your children’s studies, the better they’re likely to do. But what do you do when they reach middle school, the concepts are more challenging, and they’re less inclined to want to get involved? Try one of these great STEM project ideas that will keep even the most distracted of middle schoolers engaged and interested!

  1. Use sports to teach and learn about angles. A game of pool becomes a geometry lesson when your child realizes that the angles that the balls hit each other have definite effect!
  2. Games like darts, or even a bet free version of blackjack can be a great tool to keep adding and subtracting skills sharp!
  3. Set up a peg board with pegs and gears, and let your middle schooler build their own configurations, turning them in various sequences to see how the size of the cogs affects the way their “machine” works.
  4. Spend some time on the internet finding chemistry experiments you can try with household ingredients, and turn your kitchen table into a mad scientist’s lab!
  5. Visit your local planetarium to see the stars, and remember that some also have special presentations or movies on topics like the aurora or comets, so even if you’ve been before, there might be something new to learn!
  6. If you can get your hands on a CBR (Calculator Based Ranger) you can use it to measure the bounces of various balls, and then develop equations based on your findings.
  7. Sign your middle schooler up for one of the many free coding courses online, and watch as they discover how to create games, websites, or software out of nothing but their own code!
  8. Contact your local university, and find out what programs they offer. Many universities science, medicine or engineering departments offer special programs that are tailored to younger students, who are just getting interested in STEM topics.
  9. Visit Shoder Interactive for free, online science and math related studies, including cool activities and STEM project ideas.
  10. Shoder also has an interactive, digital space simulation called Galaxsee, that will keep young STEM learners who are interested in space busy for ages, trying out different space based things.
  11. If you have the time, consider designing and building something like a push car or a tree house, and use the opportunity to discuss and master various engineering ideas.
  12. If your middle schooler is interested in robots, remote control air planes or anything else engineering related, look for local clubs and leagues. Today’s RC pilot may well be tomorrow’s aeronautical engineer!
  13. Even choosing the right kind of computer games, that incorporate puzzles or physics, can get your middle schooler interested in STEM! Look for games that require thought and reasoning.

You may need to try a few different STEM project ideas before you find one that keeps your middle schooler engaged and interested, but with so many options out there online and off, you’re sure to find the right ones at some point!