STEAM Activities to do from home

Maker Bolder just celebrated STEAMFest 2020 where we had an AMAZING time with our awesome exhibitors. Now that our home state (Colorado) and many other states have closed schools, you might be searching for fun things to do at home with a STEAM emphasis.

Behold our list of all things STEAM that can be done from home!

*Parents, please preview items for younger audiences. Some sources are from YouTube.

SCIENCE & SPACE San Diego Zoo Virtual Tour at the San Diego Zoo.
Polar Bears Polar Bears and the Tundra
NOVA Science Gross Science, Science Education at Home
Mystery Science School Closure Lesson Plans
Yellowstone National Park Virtual Field Trips:  Mud Volcano, Mammoth Hot Springs, and so much more.  Tour Yellowstone National Park!
Mars Rover Explore the surface of Mars on the Curiosity Rover.
Space Tours Experience Space
Science Videos The Kid Should See This – Science
Animal Cameras Live Cams at the San Diego Zoo

Monterey Bay Aquarium live cams

Panda Cam at Zoo Atlanta

6 Animal Cams at Houston Zoo

Georgia Aquarium has Jellyfish, Beluga Whales, and more

TECHNOLOGY Manufacturing How It’s Made
Tech How-Tos The Kid Should See This – Technology
Twenty Thousand Hertz Podcast all about the stories and history of famous sounds. (parents pre-listen for younger audiences).
Geek Girl Diaries Geek Girl Diaries
ENGINEERING  Adam Hart-Davis What Romans Did for Us, What the Ancients Did for Us
Modern Marvels Watch here
Engineer Girl Cool Links list
University of Colorado Boulder Engineering Teach Engineering STEM Curriculum for K-12
National Science Foundation Big list of Engineering Classroom Resources.
ARTS Coloring for Calm Coloring pages from 113 Museums! (Complete with all kinds of anatomy!)
Livestream Classic Concerts Met Opera to Berlin Philharmonic
Virtual Art Museums Travel to Paris, France to see amazing works of art at The Louvre.

List of 12 museums to virtually visit.

Google Arts & Culture offers exquisite views of art, cultural sites, and more.

Drawing with an Author Illustrator LUNCH DOODLE with Mo Willems
At-Home Art Lessons Cassie Stephens Art Blog
Let’s Make Art Take a look at this huge list of free digital downloads watercolor painting guides.
MAKING Animation Videos The Kid Should See This – Animation
Built By Kids Blog with lots of ideas for building.
Mythbusters Jr. Watch full episodes here.
Competition Shows for Makers Lego Masters, no description needed.

Making It with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman.

Nailed It  and Kids Baking Championship for some baking inspiration.

MISC. Wow in the World NPR produced podcast covering all of the wonders of the world around us.
Open Culture FREE educational resources for K-12 students
Scholastic Remote Learning Resources by grade level.
Children’s Museum Stroll Walk through the Boston Children’s Museum thanks to Google Maps, explore all 3 floors!
The Great Wall of China This Virtual Tour of the Great Wall of China is beautiful and makes history come to life.
Schoolhouse Rock Watch classic episodes here.
Brain Pop Access Request access to BrainPop for free.
Typing Practice Sharpen those typing skills.
STEM Resources 239 Cool Sites about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

 

>> Send us more to update this list at gabi at makerbolder dot com

 

**Some of this list was sourced from Mrs. Fahrney’s list that can be found here.

Meet a Maker: Sorin with Mile High Astronomy

Meet our friend Sorin! Sorin is the brains and eyes behind Mile High Astronomy. We’ve partnered on some REALLY awesome events together and hope you’ve been lucky enough to join us. BUT, if you haven’t – come see Mile High Astronomy at STEAMFest 2020 and check out the latest Smartphone enabled telescopes, and build your own constellation projectors.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I share the wonders and beauty of the universe with others!

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

When I was a kid, my parents bought me a small red telescope for my birthday one year. That was my first introduction to astronomy, being able to see the Moon up close. Many years later, a trip to Mauna Kea, Hawaii, home to some of the world’s largest professional observatories, reignited that passion. Since then, I have been involved with astronomy outreach and non profits for the last 9 years. In 2017, I turned my passion for sharing the universe with others into a business, Mile High Astronomy!

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

Probably that a good telescope costs a lot less than you think. I wish I’d started sooner!

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

I see developing our own line of astronomical products! Astronomy is one of those fields where people are constantly inventing and innovating. We are just now starting to see telescopes that integrate with smart phones to make discovering the night sky easier than ever. The future of astronomy is a hotbed for experimenting and innovating.

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

We don’t know manufacturing yet, but we plan to learn! STEAM and the maker movement have opened up so many doors to building new products, and made it much more affordable to try out new ideas. I’m looking forward to making our own contributions to the astronomy equipment space in the years to come.

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

The great thing about STEAM is the emphasis on learning by doing, being willing to experiment, and to take a special delight in failing! One of the biggest aspects of learning is understanding that it’s not just OK to fail, it’s awesome! We learn so much more when something doesn’t work how we expected it to, and we take those lessons and build on them. STEAM is about not being afraid to try something new!

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

The hands on experiences!

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

We will be showing off some of the latest Smartphone enabled telescopes, and have a station for attendees to build their own constellation projectors!

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

It’s the WOW moments when someone sees the Moon, the Rings of Saturn, or the bands on Jupiter through a telescope for the first time!

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

To borrow a slogan, Just do it! There are so many resources available, and so many people who will be happy to help and encourage you. Never be afraid to fail when you try something new. Every great artist, engineer, and scientist who we celebrate for their amazing successes achieved those successes by experimenting and learning from thousands of failures that eventually lead them to something new and amazing.

Looking forward to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020! Get your tickets >> BUY TICKETS

Meet a Maker: Micah with BOAT

Micah! Micah! Micah! Let’s all do a cheer for Micah with the “BOAT” (Bus for Outdoor Access & Teaching). Micah believes that the outdoors is a vehicle for helping people figure out how to make a better world together… and we agree. Come meet Micah and take a walk through the BOAT at STEAMFest – show what you know about maps, build a lego campsite based on Leave No Trace principles, play with Mr. Bones, take a family survival challenge, practice pooping in the woods (no real poop, promise), and get any and all questions about the G-R-E-A-T outdoors answered.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I run BOAT! It’s not actually a BOAT, it’s the “Bus for Outdoor Access & Teaching.” We’ve converted a big, red, full-size school bus into a fully functional wilderness program. We drive across Colorado running expeditions for kids and adults, providing outdoor education where people actually live, and helping organizations get to hard-to-reach outdoor places.

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

I wish there was a “lightbulb moment,” but really it was just a lot of work. My team started asking educators what made it hard to get outside, we analyzed budgets, we did a lot of just-good-enough paper napkin math, and a fair amount of logistical analysis (i.e. looking where things went and where to pull of a trip). We learned a few things – transportation is a huge barrier, people want access to outdoor spaces where they actually live (cities!), and a bus has enough cubic feet of storage to carry enough camping equipment for everyone inside – with some modifications.

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

The structural and electrical architecture of a bus, for starters! Welding, metalwork, the impacts of vibrations on nuts and bolts – that kind of stuff. We knew we could run an outdoor program, and we knew we could drive a bus, but putting them together has had some challenges!

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

The idea behind the bus is that it’s a more affordable, more accessible way for organizations to get outside. A lot of outdoor programs run on a traditional model where families or individuals have to get to their base of operations, have the gear, and so on. We’ve tactically removed a lot of barriers – both logistical and economic – and that means our programs are a fraction of the cost of a traditional outdoor program. So what does the future look like? Hopefully more busses, more people getting outside, and making it a lot easier along the way. Last year we got 400 people out on trips and reached over 7,000 through education programs – we’d like to see those numbers get a lot bigger.

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

My kingdom for another bus! I don’t think we’ll ever make the perfect one, but we learned a lot the first time around – I don’t know how to make every piece of it, but I’ve got a lot of ideas (as soon as I get this welding thing down).

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

I’m going to go a bit off message here, but I think it’s the element of creativity and critical thinking – I love the outdoors, but getting people outside at BOAT isn’t the real end goal. Like BOAT itself, the outdoors is a vehicle for helping people figure out how to make a better world together. You learn a lot about what it means to take care of each other on a camping trip – the creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, and care for others that comes from our programs is the real goal, and something much needed in society both today and always.

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

All the people! Sure, we’re showing off the bus and teaching but really the best part for us is getting to meet all the folks coming by, seeing their ideas, sharing tips, tricks, and hikes, and letting the younger ones sit in the driver’s seat. It’s such a great community in attendance!

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

We’re revamping our event set up, so you’ll have to see – you can count on a chance to show what you know about maps, build a lego campsite based on Leave No Trace principles, play with Mr. Bone’s, take a family survival challenge, practice pooping in the woods (no real poop, promise), and get any and all questions about the outdoors answered (or at least we’ll try!). We’ll also be showing you the insides of some popular outdoor clothing, so you can learn how they work!

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

Honestly, people tend to think that what we do is pretty crazy. I’ve studied wolves and been chased by a bear and struck by lightning. But what I remind people is all those “crazy” things actually means we made a big mistake – the goal of getting outside is to do so safely enough you can come back and do it again later, so it’s the times we have fun but things don’t get toooo crazy that are the best.

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

When you’re young, the way consequences work out can be a pretty sweet deal. The consequences of taking time to learn, grow, try something new, or break a rule no one knew they needed to have are huge – I still regularly rely on skills, science, and knowledge I picked up before I graduated high school, every day. At the same time, the consequences of bad choices and mistakes are – relatively speaking – pretty small. You can take big risks, and the odds are in your favor. The older you get, the more that seems to invert, so take advantage! Plus remember that while older folks may have more experience than you, they aren’t necessarily smarter. It’s always worth listening to older folks in your life – but you can go your own way and it still might end up better.

Looking forward to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020! Get your tickets >> BUY TICKETS

Meet a Maker: Bre with RabbitHole

Duudddeeesssss… we’re so lucky to have a pal like Bre at Rabbit Hole Recreation Services – Escape Room. Not only are they voted the #1 Thing to Do in Louisville (Colorado), they’re also the STEAMFest team’s favorite puzzle adventure. Oh, and did I mention that all of our STEAMFest volunteers get a $40 gift card to Rabbit Hole…  WHAT! Stop by their booth this year and play their interactive, Frost Base Z theme puzzle box.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I am the game master overlord, business wizard, and co-founder of Rabbit Hole Recreation Services escape rooms. I handle everything from ordering office snacks to managing our large scale corporate events. However, my favorite part of my job is being on the development team for new projects (whether full blown escape rooms or smaller portable games) – I love to get my hands dirty and actually build things!

In my free time I can be found at concerts, cooking or playing board games with friends, rock climbing, volunteering with My Nature Lab (a local non-profit education center), scuba diving, sewing, and taking my dog on outdoor adventures!

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

Kurt (founder and business owner) had played a couple dozen mediocre escape games in Arizona and California. After he moved to Colorado, he finally played a really great game called The Cabin. It was at that point he realized there was a huge opportunity for an escape room business that built immersive and story-driven games. He was able to partner with Cody Borst of Escape Realm, and has built three amazing adventures so far.

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

Planning is hard work, but arguably the most important step in the development process. There are many cases where we could have saved huge chunks of time installing, uninstalling, updating, redesigning, and reinstalling parts if we had just had a better plan going in.

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

Our vision is to develop better, more engaging escape games and expand our business to new spaces. We also plan to broaden the style of games we offer – everything from take home challenges to portable games for events and even outdoor walking puzzle hunts!

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

I wish I knew how to program Arduinos! Most of our props run on them and I would love to be able to help with that end of game development.

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

It’s exciting to see kids thinking, making, and doing. We can’t wait to see what kind of amazing projects and inventions come from a generation of kids raised on STEAM!

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

My favorite part of STEAMFest is getting to take a break from our booth and touring around to see what all of the other exhibits have to offer. (Also… the espresso truck!)

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

This year we will be bringing a mini game with us! Stop by our booth and play our interactive, space themed puzzle box. Race against the clock and see if you can be the hero! Last year we brought lockpicking practice kits and we plan to have those again as well.

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

We bring fantasies to life! Most people have at some point or another wanted to Indiana Jones style explore a tomb or save the world from a virus outbreak and we give them the opportunity to do just that!

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

Find a project that is fun! Staying motivated and having the drive to learn more is a lot easier when you enjoy the project.

Looking forward to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020! Get your tickets >> BUY TICKETS

Meet a Maker: Karen with [i am a maker]

Meet our best pal Karen, the founder of [i am a maker]! Karen is the best person ever and we’re so glad that she hangs out with us at Rocky Mountain STEAMFest every year. [i am a maker] was formed to engage, educate and inspire the current and future generations of makers through novel events and hands-on activities that promote play, experimentation, creative expression, team work and skills-based learning. They’re hosting HEBO Con at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020.

What do you do with your awesome self?

At my core, I am a manager of things, machinery, materials, ideas, projects and people.  My “day job” is designing and managing installation of high-speed food and beverage packaging lines as an engineering project manager, soup to nuts. 

Every other minute of my day when I’m not doing that is spent finding ways to inspire youth and adults into creative and technical endeavors as a new hobby, career or a lifetime passion.  This includes putting tools in the hands of youth and empowering them to take ownership of their own creative process. I formed the nonprofit [I am a maker] and, with a team of equally passionate folks, continue to host activities and facilitate informal learning for both youth and adults through a series of specialty events.

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

I believe it started for me with a Barbie doll. Some youth, as I have learned, set their dolls on fire, or cut/dye/style their hair, for example.  I took a more traditional route and, with my Mother’s instruction, sewed clothes for my dolls. When I realized I could make any style, color, size, or shape of clothing that I wanted, this opened a portal to the maker mindset at 8 years old. 

Fast forward a few decades and happily a mechanical engineer and hobbyist sewist, I acknowledged the lack of voices for women in engineering as a modern maker movement was emerging.  Makers in traditional arts, trades and artisan crafts were also under represented in media. I simply did not feel a part of this growing maker movement, so I just declared it: “I am a maker, too.”

[I am a maker] was born to reach youth and adults who don’t yet know they are makers, empower them and share with them the tools and resources for creation.

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

Some information that would have been helpful to know is being more prepared for the volume of regulations, paperwork, filings, approvals, time and dollars that are needed to form a 501c3 and become a legal entity to serve the community.  To be frank, the IRS doesn’t care about your nonprofit, even when they admit they made an error. 

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

We are hosting Hebocon Denver at STEAM Fest and this event is part of our larger vision to reach makers and young makers “where they are at”.  It is one of several programs of our nonprofit meant to encourage people to get creative regardless of life stage or their technical or creative ability. Everyone is a maker and we want to give adults and youth the tools to succeed in their creative endeavors across the variety of circumstances that they may find themselves in.  

We plan to expand the program and offer Hebocon Denver to the community multiple times a year combined with several additional related events that will continue to be both educational and entertaining.    

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

I wish there was a way to make time. I am looking for the time machine makers as I have several lifetimes of projects and missions to execute, and I’m not the only one. Hit us up!

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

My favorite part of the movement is our ability to create without requiring anyone’s permission.  As tools and materials become more readily accessible, so does this increase our ability to invent and create.  Why we create is different for each person and it is rare another maker will question what you are doing. Regardless of your actual reason for making something, another maker will know it in their heart, too. It’s because we can.        

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

I am excited for the entire weekend from loading in the first crate to Sunday night sweeping up the pom-poms. We are event producers ourselves, and we really love partnering with the STEAM Fest production team. We love working with a great team and making amazing events together with fun people!

[i am a maker] HEBO Con at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2019

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

We will be playing with broken toys, bits and bobbles that are actually robot parts in disguise. We are building robots out of junk, followed by sumo matches in the ring. And you can win prizes! 

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

 “Will you marry me?”

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

The materials needed to start creating are right in front of you in everyday items such as old toothpaste tubes, paper plates, cups, boxes, tins, plastic bags, rubber bands, bottles, cardboard, foil, paper and pencil. Ask yourself what can you make with items within a 5/10/20ft radius of where you are sitting. GO!

Looking forward to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020! Get your tickets >> BUY TICKETS

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 [http://boulderufixitclinic.org], 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 http://fixitclinic.org 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 http://thingiverse.com, http://ifixit.com 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 >> BUY TICKETS

Geocaching: Tips for helping your child become the next Indiana Jones

Almost everyone wants to be like Indiana Jones at some point in their lives (either that or they have had a big crush on him)!  Either way, it is pretty hard to imagine anyone (especially kids) who haven’t been lured into daydreams of hunting for treasure.  Now kids and adults alike can have their very own Doctor Jones adventures without the worry of being shot with poisonous darts or being chased down by machete-yielding bad guys!  

It’s a big deal

Geocaching is a hobby where other outdoor adventure enthusiasts hide and search for camouflaged containers (say a small Rubbermaid tub or other clever vessels) filled with tiny treasure (a.k.a. silly knickknacks).  

According to Geocaching.com, there are over 4 million active geocachers and 3 million active geocaches located in more than 190 countries and on seven different continents (Antarctica included-I think I will skip those). And, there are over 36,000 geocaching events and 200 organizations centered around this modern-day treasure hunt.  

Geocaching.com explains that the term ‘geocaching’ comes from combining the prefix ‘geo’ meaning Earth and ‘cache’ a term meaning a hiding place for objects.  The term ‘memory cache’ more recently has been used to describe a computer’s ability to pull up information. Therefore, the term geocaching is the perfect word for using technology, specifically a “global positioning system,” to look around the earth for hidden treasures.  

Getting Started

There are a number of websites and books to help you out if you find that this is a hobby you and your child want to sink your teeth in.  But, here are the basics to get you started looking for “the lost ark” and “the temple of doom.” 

Here are the materials and equipment you will need:

  • Smartphone with Geocache App – The app will give you the location 
  • Pencil/Pen
  • Small treasures (action figures, figurines, a keyring, stickers, baubles of any kind) 
  • Patience to look for good hiding places
  • (Some people recommend street maps as well as your Google Maps)

Once you have your equipment and materials you can begin!  You need to register with a geocaching website (like Geocaching.com) or purchase an app. After entering your zip code, you will see the coordinates for geocaches that are nearby.  Sounds fun, right?

Many of the sites and apps (Geocaching.com being the most popular), will give you a rating of how difficult the terrain is and how difficult the treasure is to find along with any other helpful information, including pictures, that will guide you and your child on your quest for hidden bootie.  

When you have found a cache, you can trade some of the items in the box for things that you brought along.  You will also sign the login book that comes with the treasure and record of your findings on the website or the app. Then, you return the cache to the spot you found it. Sometimes the caches get found by non-geocachers, and go missing.  Report your findings either way, so that other searchers don’t go on an endless search as well. 

Becoming a treasure burier can be just as much fun for you and your children too!  When you travel to new and beautiful places or even around your city, take a few caches and leave a little treasure of your own for others to find.  Occasionally, you can check and see who has found your stash and signed your log book.

What’s new in geocaching for the seasoned veterans

The good news, too,is that geocaching is evolving.  While I have shared the traditional geocaching experience, according to hobbyhelp.com, there are a number of other spins on these fun adventures.  There is an option to complete puzzles before you are allowed access to the coordinates of a cache.  In addition, there are caches that are connected. You have to find three or four caches in sequence by solving a puzzle at each hiding spot in order to go on to the next cache.  And if that isn’t enough, there are geocaching events around the world where you and your children can meet others who are obsessed with this fun activity.

So, if it isn’t obvious why you and your child should try out this fun and almost free opportunity for adventure, I will lay it out:

  • You and your children get to spend time together.
  • It gets you and your children outdoors.
  • You can see beautiful and interesting places that you have never explored before (many geocachers hide their treasure in beautiful locations).
  • It spurs your child’s sense of adventure and imagination.
  • Some searches can build problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
  • It helps children build navigation skills (put them in charge of a real PAPER map).
  • Bottom line:  It’s FUN!

Here are some fun links to find geocaching opportunities in Colorado!

Colorado Geocaching Trails and Trail Maps

6 Awesome Colorado Geocaching Destinations

The 10 Best Places in Colorado to Geocache

Get out there  Dr. Jones wannabes!  Awaken the inner-child or inner pirate in yourself and foster your child’s sense of adventure by joining the millions who are already geocaching!

Cooling-Down during a heatwave: STEAM APPS that kids and parents will both love

Remember Miss Frizzle’s amazing field trips on The Magic Schoolbus?  Where taking chances, getting outside (and sometimes inside someone’s intestines or other odd places) are the orders of the day?  It’s summertime, what better opportunity is there to go on adventures, “make mistakes” and “get messy.” But, summertime also means scorching temperatures and when a heatwave rolls in sometimes there is no choice but some downtime indoors.  Time indoors and time on their technological devices doesn’t have to be a total loss for tweens and teens. Here are some amazing STEAM-inspired apps allow your kids to cool off, have some fun, and best of all—learn and grow, when going outdoors and getting messy aren’t an option.

  1. Starry Night Interactive – If your kids love Van Gogh’s Starry Night, they will love this interactive app where they can manipulate a masterpiece and relax to some enjoyable music at the same.
  2. Robot School Programming for Kids – A multileveled game where kids help R-obbie the Robot who has crashed his spaceship. Kids learn how to “learn procedures, loops and conditional instructions” to help him get home.
  3. Math Versus Zombies – Kids are part of a team of scientists who are helping to save the planet from zombies by using their super-human math skills.
  4. NASA Visualizer – This is a great app for kids excited about space by presenting the latest research in an “engaging and exciting format.”  Users can see images of Earth that have never been seen. 
  5. Frog Dissection – This is an iPad app for tweens and teens to learn about organs and organ systems in an eco-friendly way.  
  6. The Everything Machine – This app will blow your kids’ and maybe your mind!  “Create something as simple as a light switch or as complex as a kaleidoscope, a voice disguiser, a stop-motion camera, or a cookie thief catcher!”  But watch out, your kids can use their inventions to play a joke on you.
  7. Swift Playgrounds – A great coding tool for novices.  Users solve puzzles to learn Swift, a coding program used by expert coders to build many of “today’s most popular apps.”
  8. Thinkrolls & Thinkrolls 2 – This puzzle slash physics app with 26 fairytalish characters is “100% irresistible for kids 3-8.  Get it now and let your little geniuses amaze you with their reasoning and problem solving skills!” 
  9. Busy Water – This is another critical thinking leveled puzzle game that uses paddle wheels, water, blocks etc… to help Archie get back into his tank.  Logic and reasoning are developed as users work their way through the levels.
  10. Simple Rockets – What kid doesn’t get excited about becoming a scientist who designs his/her own rocket ships and helps them blast off into space?
  11. Noticing Tools – This is a “ground-breaking suite of iPad apps that make learning math and science irresistible through play, creative design projects, and collaboration.”
  12. World of Goo – Another puzzle game, this one requires users to move the goo.  They must find ways (by building bridges, towers, etc…) to get the goo to a pipe that will suck it up. 
  13. Odd Bot Out – This robot is the odd one out.  Tossed into the garbage for not “being good enough,” Odd the robot has to escape over a 100 unique rooms to find his way out.  
  14. Inventioneers – This app teaches “realtime physics and the science behind different features like air, fire, magnetism and (of course) jumping bunnies.”
  15. Attributes – Users play around with attributes and patterns to solve puzzles and complete various levels.  

Also try:  Move the Turtle; DragonBox; The Land of Venn

As parents, we will always encourage our children to get out and explore the outdoors, and to “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.” But, there are times when being indoors and having some downtime on our devices is necessary and doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.  So, when the heat index is 115 degrees, and you have to get that project done without interruption, allow your children to play one of these great STEAM apps. And, while it isn’t as good as time with you or trying out the latest science experiment, at least you know they will be learning and doing something that is a win/win.  

What can we learn from Rube Goldberg?

Pulitzer winning editorial cartoonist, inventor, engineer, and author Rube Goldberg left a significant legacy to inspire makers and thinkers. While most believe that the STEAM Education revolution started just a few years decades ago, Goldberg has been inspiring tinkerers with his detailed drawings for generations, aside the great inventor artist Leonardo daVinci.

Goldberg drew an estimated 50,000 cartoons starting in the 1920s, many of which depict delightfully wacky machines completing simple tasks. Goldberg once said that his creations were symbols for “man’s capacity for exerting maximum effort to accomplish minimal results.”

Rube Goldberg is the only person to have ever been listed in the dictionary as an adjective! That’s how special he is.  Learn more about this intriguing individual here.

 

Learning the Goldberg Way

Title: The Self-Operating Napkin Artist: Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) Created: 1931 Medium: pen and ink printed

 

 

Approach life with humor and curiosity. View tasks with whimsy and playfulness. Break it down into simpler parts. Share your ideas, however wacky they are!

 

Complicated, multi-step contraptions when broken down are simply simple machines. The wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge, lever, pulley, and screw are all around us, we use them in our daily tasks.  Learning about and building with them helps us explore science and engineering in an engaging, practical, inspired way.

Building and testing the concepts of movement and force with simple machines allows for practice and repetition, or in STEAM Ed lingo, fostering “testing and iteration” skills. Repeated failure and making changes are a good thing!

Top Five benefits of exploring simple machines:

— via the Wacky Contraption Challenge

  1. Solve real-world, relevant problems together. Collaborate and Communicate! Explore the power of invention.
  2. Practice iteration skills and perseverance, aka F.A.I.L First Attempt in Learning.
  3. Flex design thinking muscles.
  4. Supplies are low-cost and readily available.
  5. Wild, Wacky, and Outrageous ideas encouraged! Make it FUN!