Have you tried Minute to Win It Games for Kids at school? It is a fun way to engage kids in learning in a group setting, such as a classroom party or family holiday party. These STEM Minute-to-Win-It Games are easy to set up and easy to play, each activity has STEM learning elements. You can adapt rules and difficulty levels for different age groups.
Fun STEM Minute To Win It Games for Kids
Scuba Diver: create a scuba diver with bending straws, and see who can keep the diver at the bottom of the water the longest. See the detailed instruction in this video
Materials needed: 1 empty water bottle, 1 bending straw, 1 paper clip, playdoh as a weight to keep the diver upright in the water, a paper cup or another waterproof material
Cup Stacking: this is a fun team activity. Tie several strings on a rubber band, and put the rubber band around the cups. The goal is to stack as many cups as possible on top of each other, or you can give the groups a set number of cups to see which group can get all the cups stacked nicely first. The rule? They can only move the cups by pulling the strings attached to the rubber band, and everyone must participate. No one can touch the cups with their hands directly. Here is a detailed instruction with photos. Besides learning how to make a stable structure, kids also learn to communicate with team members to achieve a common goal.
Materials needed: paper cups, at least 6 per group; rubber bands, one for each group; strings
Cup Blow: fill one cup with a little water, then stack the 2nd paper cup inside the one with water. Leave a 3rd empty cup close to the stack with a little distance in between. The challenge is to blow the 2nd cup inside the one with water into the 3rd cup. This is a fun activity to learn about air dynamics and forces. You can check out this video to see what it is like and tips and tricks.
Materials needed: 3 same paper cups, a little water
RELATED: Hands-on Toys for Young Engineers
Swimming Contest: draw some fun characters on a shallow plate with a dry-erase marker. Any character should be fine, like a boy, a spider, or a balloon. The key is to make sure all parts of the character are connected. After the drawing is dry, fill the plate with some water so the character is completely submerged under water. Within a minute, you will see the character start floating around. The challenge is to move the character to a pre-designated spot by blowing air through the straw. Check out this video, who used aluminum foil instead. The key to the smooth running of the game is to use a dry-erase marker to draw the character. From the feedback I got, it is best to get brand-new ones.
You can also turn this into a team activity by defining the number of rounds the team has to move the little figure through the course.
Materials needed: dry erase marker (brand new ones work best), plates or aluminum foil, straws.
RELATED: 150 Kitchen STEM Activities for Kids
Car Race: for this one you need to make the “car” first. It is pretty easy if you follow the instruction in this video. The goal is for everyone to make their own car with bottle caps, straws, and a balloon. Then race the car to see whose is the fastest.
Materials needed: for each person, you need one balloon, some straws, and 4 bottle caps of the same size. Additionally, everyone can share scissors and some hot glue.
Making Triangles: each person receives 9 toothpicks. The goal is to make as many triangles as possible with 9 toothpicks. Make sure to count those nested ones, those smaller triangles nested within bigger ones.
Materials needed: 9 toothpicks for each player.
Steady Hand: Before you can play the game, you need to make the game set. It is actually a simple circuit project kids can make. Young children may need some help, but overall, it is quite straightforward and easy to make. You can find instructions in this article. Once you finish the game set, on game day, players take turns running the wire through the loop. The one who runs through the loop without lightening up the LED light wins the game.
Materials needed: unshielded conductive wire that can stay in shape (like this steel wire), shielded flexible electric wire (for easy connecting), LED light, 1-2 batteries, an empty container (anything would do, even a coffee cup), duct tape to fix the wires, pin or other sharp objects for poking holes on container lid, wire stripper, wire cutter.
RELATED: 16 Outdoor STEM Toys for Kids, from Preschool to School Age
Paper Water Bucket: Make a cup out of a sheet of paper, no glue, no staple, no anything else – the goal is to hold as much water as possible for 10 seconds. Here is a detailed instructions
Materials needed: for each player, 1 sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 copy paper, and some extra sheets of paper for practice. Water that is enough for all players, a scoop or spoon to transport water, and a measuring cup.
Fishing with Magnets: cut out fish shapes with paper and put different numbers on the pieces of fish, then put a paper clip on each piece. Tie a magnet and a rod with a thin string. This is the fish pole. You can see the setup from this Instagram post. Set a timer and have kids use the magnet fishing pole to fish the numbered fish. When the time is up, have each student add up the numbers of all fishes they get. The student who gets the biggest sum wins the game.
Materials needed: paper, marker to write numbers on fish, paper clips, magnets, string, and rods (we used 12-inch rods, but you can adjust the length based on kids’ age).
Paper Bridge: build a paper bridge to connect two paper cups. You can set a limit on the number of pieces of paper each player can use. A good starting point is 2 pieces of printing paper for each person. The student whose bridge holds the most weight wins.
Materials needed: for each player, 2 pages of print paper (or more), 2 paper cups, a lot of coins as weight, and a scale to measure the weight.
Looking for more STEM Challenges for Kids? Check out Building Da Vinci Bridge with #2 Pencils, Winning Egg Drop Design Using Straws, or 7 Free Online STEM Resources for Kids