Published January 12, 2023

Do Try This At Home

camper making activity at tableThis winter break, 260 Pike Township third-, fourth- and fifth-graders had no good reason to say, “I’m bored!”

Just before their vacation started, the students, from five elementary schools, received STEM activity kits put together by the Indiana State Museum engagement department to keep them learning and engaged during their time away from school.

The kits contained five activities kids could do on their own, along with materials and a packet of instructions – here’s how to do the activity, this is the science behind it, here are some websites and books you can check out.

The winter break kit activities were:

  • Let It snow. Students took apart a diaper, separated the padding, shook it out and added water to create instant snow.
  • Gingerbread escape. Students found a way for a gingerbread man to cross a river without having to rely on the fox (from the story “The Gingerbread Man”) to take him across. Their kit includes gingerbread man erasers and a book.
  • Design a snowflake. Students made snowflakes from various supplied materials – cotton balls, toothpicks, cotton swabs, white crayons and pipe cleaners.
  • Rainbow snowflake. Using a compact disc, paper and light, students created a snowflake and reflected its image off the wall.
  • Sled run. Students were given small polar bear erasers and made a sled for the polar bears to go downhill.

Nicole Rife, director of education engagement, said she worked with School Program Manager Brittany Basaran and Youth Program Manager Sheree Cooper to design the activities. They chose activities based on what they know that kids can easily do at home with materials that are easy to handle.

In addition to the kits, the students also got a bag containing scissors, masking tape and a pencil.

“We wanted to make sure the students didn’t have to find tape – or their parents didn’t have to find tape – or scissors,” Rife said. “We worked from the assumption that the kids had no supplies, because we didn’t want that to be a barrier to participate in the activities.”

The museum has been offering kits like the ones Pike students received since its Camp in a Box program during the height of the pandemic. The museum and Pike Township Schools have been partners since fall 2021, providing both the kits and programming during school breaks and after-school programming.

“We try to balance the activities so they’re fun and they allow for open-ended creativity,” Rife said. “They’re easy, entertaining, engaging – and don’t require adult help.”