Tips for creating an awesome STEM fair for your school

This is a question we get from parents and educators fairly often – how do I help to create a fun, innovative, and affordable STEM fair for my school? Like everything with the maker movement, time, creativity, collaboration, and research can make amazing things happen.

Here is some of our advice for creating a fun-conventional STEM fair for your school without a lot of technical knowledge or money:

COMMUNITY IS PRICELESS

The first step in planning a STEM fair should be seeing what kind of expertise you have access to in your school’s community. Try seeing if you can find engineers (engineers love helping with technical challenges), or artists, or craftspeople who might be able to help brainstorm activities. Also look for people with interesting hobbies – for example, if you have someone in your school’s community who is an avid crocheter, then creating a station where families explore mathematical concepts through crocheting would be tons of fun.

Tip: If you’re stuck and are looking for a fun idea, try contacting a locksmithing company and asking if a locksmith would show students how to pick locks in exchange for some free advertising for their company.

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BROWSE YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS

“Good makers borrow, great makers steal.” When in doubt, turn to the internet and see what other people are doing at STEM fairs. Here are three fantastic websites to turn to for help:

  1. Instructables: This is almost always the first place we go to look for information. Check out this amazing list of 100 STEAM Projects for Teachers for a list of affordable, not-too-technical ideas for STEM fairs – we especially like this PVC saxophone (great for exploring the science of sound), or this tutorial for littleBits-like circuit titles.
  2. The Tinkering Studio: This blog is run by San Francisco’s Exploratorium (probably the coolest maker-friendly spaces we’ve been) and contains dozens of great tutorials that could be used at a STEM fair. Their light painting tutorial would be a great, nearly free activity for a STEM fair and their marble machines would definitely be a hit.
  3. Science Fair Project Ideas: This website has an encyclopedic list of science fair projects and would be a great place to point students for inspiration. From artificial intelligence to the anatomy of a mushroom, this site has something for everyone.

SOCIAL MEDIA IS YOUR FRIEND

Social media is a great place to go to share ideas about the maker movement. On Twitter and Instagram, try looking for hashtags like #makered or #stemeducation and start following the accounts of people you find interesting. This way you can create a personal learning network to turn to for inspiration and to share successes and challenges.

(Shameless plug: Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram too!)

If you’re a Pinterest user, you’ll quickly find that Pinterest is a fantastic place to look for STEM education ideas. It can be easy to lose hours to exploring ideas on Pinterest. If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of ideas on Pinterest, try browsing some of our board to start.

LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION? CHECK OUT THESE IDEAS

If you’re looking for more inspiration for an upcoming STEM fair, here are some links to help you get started:

Three hacks for creating unforgettable maker projects

Agar agar noodles

Makedo cardboard construction

STEM on a budget

Recipe for blowing giant bubbles

Do you have ideas you’d like to share for creating STEM fairs? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Follow us on social media (Facebook,  Twitter,  Instagram,  Youtube) for the latest maker movement news, tips, and tutorials – let us help you create fun-conventional learning opportunities!

-Ryan Hunt, MakerBus Co-Founder

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