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Promote STEM fun with these engaging fall activities

While it's always fun to paint and cut out pumpkins or learn about the pilgrims in your classroom, have you considered integrating seasonal STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities into your lessons? The Department of Education states that far too few students study STEM fields and the country has a shortage of teachers who are skilled in these subjects. Therefore, with the help from fall, here are a few engaging STEM activities you can include into your classes this season:

Why do leaves change color?
Instead of drawing photos of fall leaves, why not show your students why they change color? As leaves contain chlorophyll that makes them green, to figure out what color a leaf would be without it, you can separate the colors with an easy, fun science experiment.

What do you need:

  • 3 leaves (from the same tree)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Glass mason jar
  • Plastic bag or wrap
  • Paper coffee filter
  • Small bowl or pan

What you do

  1. Break the leaves into small pieces and place in the jars.
  2. Cover leaves with rubbing alcohol.
  3. Mash and stir until the alcohol turns slightly green.
  4. Cover the mason jar with the plastic bag or wrap.
  5. Put the jar in a small bowl and pour hot water into the bowl.
  6. Let the jar sit in the water for around 30 minutes, or even longer if you have the time.
  7. Cut small strips out of the coffee filter so that it can reach the rubbing alcohol.
  8. Place the strips in the jar and tape the top to the end of the jar.
  9. The liquid will then travel up the coffee filter and the colors will separate as the alcohol evaporates off the filter. Your students will be excited about what color the leaves turn!

Make popcorn on the cob
This activity is great for a mid-day snack and for your students to learn more about local fall produce. It's an excellent way to connect the history of early Americans with a fun, delicious science experiment. Before you dive into your project, ask your students about what they think will happen when you put the dried corn in the microwave. Most likely, you'll get plenty of answers, which will get your students more curious and excited about what will happen. Remember, this activity should only be done with older preschool children since popcorn can be a choking hazard for younger children.

What you need:

  • Dried corn cob
  • Paper bags
  • Microwave

What you do:

  1. Put the corn cob in a brown paper lunch bag.
  2. Fold the bag up two times to keep the steam in.
  3. Cook the corn cob in the microwave on a popcorn setting if you have that.
  4. Take the bags out - and enjoy!

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