School may be out for the summer, but the learning doesn’t have to stop! You’ll find STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities in many out-of-school time programs because there’s clear evidence that hands-on STEM activities give youth knowledge and skills, a higher likelihood of graduation and better attitudes about STEM fields and careers. Combat summer learning loss and gain a lifelong appreciation of STEM with these four easy, educational and fun activities you can do as a family.


(SCIENCE) Oil Spill Activity: This activity not only allows kids to actively problem-solve, it also connects back to a real, environmental issue. For this activity, mix oil and water in a large container. From here, try to remove the oil without removing too much of the water – using sponges, spoons, paper towels, etc. How does this reflect our current environmental status in our world’s oceans?


(ENGINEERING) Jellybean Building: Try your hand at being an architect with this engaging and delicious activity. You’ll need jellybeans and toothpicks. By connecting toothpicks with jellybeans, you can see which shapes are most structurally sound. Which structures collapse? Which stay standing? This activity helps you understand the thought and technology behind structural engineering.


(TECH) Learn to Write Names in Binary Code: Did you know computers speak in their own language? It’s called Binary! Computers assign a string of 0s and 1s to letters, symbols and instructions to communicate to its users and other computers worldwide. For this activity, you’ll need beads in two colors and a string. Choose one color for the 0s and another for the 1s. Using the ASCII chart, spell a word or your name with the colored beads. For example, “CAT” is spelled 01000011 (C) 01000001 (A) 01010100 (T). String the beads on a necklace or bracelet, and show off your very own computer code jewelry.


(MATH) License Plate Math: Headed on a road trip this summer? Take a fun math game with you! In this game, use this basic alphanumeric cipher to substitute the letters on plates for numbers. A cipher is a secret code that carries along a hidden message. You can pretend to be a spy by “breaking the code” on the license plates. For more advanced learning, play as a family and calculate to see which license plate has the highest numerical value.


The YMCA of Austin is a dynamic association of men, women and children joined together by a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility. We believe that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our kids, our health and our neighbors. The YMCA afterschool program is the ideal out-of-school time opportunity for your child to grow academically, emotionally, and physically. Learn about Y Afterschool and register for the 2019-20 school season.

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