STEAM Activities to Keep the Winter Blues Away

The holidays are over and a long winter is upon us. To break up those snow days or long weekends indoors, here are a few STEAM activities that will keep idle hands busy and young imaginations active. Of course, there’s STEAMFest in March… but other than that… 😉 here are some fun ideas… 

Aluminum foil is one of the coolest mediums for art.  Kids can create all kinds of artwork using this versatile and tactile material. Have kids recreate three dimensional figures/sculptures performing one of many of winter’s fun activities including ice skating, skiing, or sledding! They can create the skis and sled out of popsicle sticks. A great extension to the sculptures is having kids draw the figures. Having a 3D model helps kids to advance their drawing skills from stick figures to lifelike (or more lifelike)! There are any number fun and cool activities you can do with the leftover tin foil; check out this one.

Snowflakes really are beautiful and unique. If your children haven’t ever examined them up close, then they need to, and so do you! Put a piece of black construction paper in the freezer, then take it outside and let the flakes land on it. Using a magnifying glass, you all can examine and see the intricate and beautiful designs of snowflakes. After observations are complete any number of fun and unique snowflake art projects like the one at Kitchen Table Classroom are in order!

Creating your own snow indoors is another great way to break the winter blues; 123 Homeschool gives you directions for making your very own snow. Grab some action figures or artic figurines and your kids have an Arctic wonderland for hours of imaginative play. 

Creating slime may be yesterday’s fad, but this cool glittery snowball slime from Homeschool Preschool is too cool to miss out on. Grab some small foam beads and some iridescent glitter, and you kids will have themselves a cool calming ball of slime.

If you and your kiddos need time outdoors before you all go crazy, encourage them to hone their survival skills. With this video on YouTube, they can learn how to make their very own snowshoes from a ball of twine and some branches from evergreen trees. Or, if your kids need more of a challenge, Boy’s Life has a stellar set of directions for a “cooler than store bought” version.

A fun little outdoor scavenger hunt for sticks can lead to a little down time away from your restless kids, and can be the start of a fun project. With the sticks they collect, they can create one of these fun long homes on Inspiration Labratories.  If sticks aren’t available, you can always provide your kiddos with a big box of Q-tips and have them create the biggest and strongest home possible. They can also problem-solve how they will keep them together. Another tried and true building material are those tubs of Legos. The Discovery Center of Idaho has 10 Lego challenges for your budding engineers like building the sturdiest tower and an earthquake-proof skyscraper. 

Winter blues don’t have to be a thing. There are a ton of weather beaters on Pinterest to help you and your kids survive hibernation and survive until spring! 

Meet a Maker: Wayne with Boulder U-Fix-It-Clinic

Meet our friend Wayne! Wayne and his pals with the Boulder-U-Fix-It-Clinic have been super involved in the maker movement for the last several years (they joined us at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest in 2018 and 2019) – showing people how to fix things they would normally throw away. How amazing is that?! We’re stoked to have them joining us for Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I organize the Boulder U-Fix-It Clinic [], an ongoing series of free events where we invite people to bring their broken stuff and work with volunteer “fix-it” coaches to attempt to repair them. We’re keeping these repaired items out of the landfill, helping develop educated consumers, and introducing people to using tools.
Here’s how we look at this in the broader perspective:
The world needs more makers, and if you’re not sure if you’re a maker, try being a fixer first.
And, if you want a simple start to fixing, learn to fix a lamp.

How did you get started? Who or what influenced you?

My friend Peter Mui who runs in the San Francisco Bay Area challenged me to start a clinic in Boulder. Little did I know what this would turn into and how much I would enjoy this work!

What was one bit of information you wished you know before you started?

Public libraries are great venues for the public to learn repair skills.

Where do you see yourself and your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?

We helped get the Denver U-Fix-It Clinic get started and hope to assist other makers around Colorado to start clinics in their towns.

What do you wish you could make or do, but don’t know how to (yet)?

Broken plastic parts on appliances are often expensive to replace. We’ve experimented with quickly designing and printing 3D replacement parts, but the process is time-consuming. Imagine a network of fix-it clinics/repair cafes around the world sharing their part designs? It’s starting to happen via, and other global community resources.

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

It’s awesome to see the creativity, excitement, and passion for making when people are exposed to the STEAM tools, technology, and skills.

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

We are thrilled to introduce simple electronic test equipment, hand tools, and troubleshooting techniques to STEAMFest visitors. It’s especially rewarding when a young family sits down with us and learns together.

What will you be demo’ing hacking, playing with at your STEAM Fest booth?

We’ll be running our Boulder U-Fix-It Clinic lamp repair workshop. We’ll show people how to understand the simple electrical components of a lamp, and give them hands-on experience finding what’s wrong with a broken lamp, and the satisfying achievement of repairing to working condition. While we’re doing this, we tell participants about our fix-it clinics and invite them to come to our future clinics. And, we recruit the talented makers/fixers who wander by our booth to consider becoming Boulder U-Fix-It Clinic volunteer coaches, or perhaps consider starting a clinic in their community.

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever told you about what you do?

Sometimes, our fix-it clinic participants are amazed at our fix-it coach’s abilities to figure out why something broken and fix it. But, it’s not magical or mystical – all people have the innate ability to mentally decompose a complex thing into a collection of simple components, therefore, we all have the potential to be fixers and makers.

What’s your advice to young peeps interested in learning more about STEAM?

It’s fun to use tools to take things apart and put them back together. Come learn how to fix a lamp with us. You can do it!

Looking forward to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020! Get your tickets >> [maxbutton id=”5″ ]

Meet a Maker: Larry with Youth in Model Railroading

Guess who is coming back to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest? Our fave, fantastic friend Larry and his crew with Youth in Model Railroading.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I am the founder of Youth in Model Railroading (YMR) I have been the leader for 23 years.

How did you get started? Who or what influenced you?

I started YMR in 1997 with my son to have a place for kids to do Model Railroading, we started it with no plans or ideas of what we were going to do.

What is one bit of information you wished you knew before you started?

I wish I knew more about Model Railroading and what kids wanted.

Where do you see yourself and your project going in the next 3 to 5 years?

I’ve been doing YMR for 23 years, in the next 3, 5, 10 years I’m hoping we introduce more kids to the hobby across the country and keep their interest.

What do you wish you could make or do, but don’t know how to (yet)?

I wish I knew how to introduce Model Railroading to young people farther then the Denver/Front Range Area.

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

I’m excited that our members will be able to show there molding skills, run trains, teach kids how to build a simple tree and tell young people how much FUN Model Railroading can be.

What will you be demo’ing, making, playing with at your STEAM Fest booth?

Youth in Model Railroading will be setting up a large Multi Scale Train Layout, running HO, N and O gauge trains, with one section as a “hands on” layout, We will also have an area where the younger kids can build and “play” with trains and a “Make a Tree” make and take.

What’s the most amazing, unusual thing anyone has every told you about what you do?

I think the most amazing and craziest thing people tell me is, “You have been doing this for over 23 years? That’s amazing and Thank You!”

Whats your advice to young peeps interested in learning more about model railroading?

I would tell young people to follow their passion, get involved and have FUN, Having FUN is what it’s all about.

Visit Youth in Model Railroading at Rocky Mountain STEAMFest 2020 on March 7 + 8 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds >> [maxbutton id=”5″ ]

How to Support Your Community and Boost Your Small Business

Sponsoring a local event can be very positive for small businesses, making one wonder why more businesses do not share their services, goods, and time. If you are a small business who is evaluating your current marketing practices, building your brand and its values, and creating an audience as well as connecting with loyal customers, then sponsorship is a no brainer. Here are a number of reasons why you should become a sponsor of local events especially those like STEAM Fest.

Where to start

Start by making sure you sponsor the right events. Look for community events that jive with your brands mission and tenets. Think about what is important to you individually as well as what aligns with your business. If you believe strongly in helping the youth of your community then get involved in sponsoring some events that promote youth wellness and success. If you are a beauty supplier, then think about getting involved in working with some of the local nursing homes and hospitals and their events. Sponsorship should not only be about getting good press, but needs to be something that helps you to feel good and improves the lives of those in the community. Also, consider your target market! Who would they like to support via supporting you?  What events and organizations do you think they would like to support? (And, if you don’t know, it doesn’t hurt to ask.)

Why sponsorship?

The best reason to sponsor local events and organizations is because it is the right thing to do.  As a local small business, it is important to support others in order to help the local economy and the community grow and thrive. 

Affordable advertising

Another great reason to consider sponsorship is because it is a wonderful and cost effective way of advertising locally. You can always give money, products, services, but it can also be more budget-friendly and important that you give your time to an event or organization. What you get in return is not just the joy of giving, but you will have likely increased brand awareness locally. I know a great number of people who pay attention to what businesses/brands are sponsoring events and organizations that are important to them. Sometimes, you will even get lucky and some great publicity will come out of a sponsorship which will increase brand recognition as well as connect you with positive outreach (that is never a bad thing).  

Nonprofits are awesome

Partnering with a nonprofit will have all of those benefits and more. Not only will you be helping them to continue to operate, but it will endear you to all the people who help support the cause. By advertising your partnership with a nonprofit, you will be helping them, but you will also be helping yourself.  Nonprofits are usually very grounded in a community and have a following which you can take advantage of, and likewise, you can help them by bringing awareness of their cause to your loyal patrons. Quid Pro Quo!

Lead generation

Some of the other pros for sponsoring events and organizations is it allows you to generate leads for your business. When you sponsor an event, make sure you have a give-away or promotional items to hand out that get your name out there and where future customers have the opportunity to share their contact information and needs with you. For example, give away a free water bottle for each event attendee that fills out a brief information card. Use those cards to make queries about their needs and what services or products you can provide them (a.k.a. generate leads). And hand out cards and pens with your contact information including your website URL!

Let 2020 be the year of philanthropy, where your business partners with an organization to help one another not only make the world a better place but for community resource development and the building and growth of the local economy.