By: Kim Moldofsky
Even a day filled with ghosts, goblins and gobs of candy has room for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). Planning a STEAMy Halloween doesn’t mean turning up the heat; it simply means highlighting STEAM opportunities with a bit of art added in for fun and flair.
Below you’ll find a handful of fun STEAMy ideas to take your Halloween festivities to the next level!
I’ve already written about ghoulish fun with dry ice. Another simple science trick with loads of visual appeal involves mixing mild acids and bases like vinegar and baking soda, for a fizzy reaction. Add in a bit of food coloring and some fancy tea cups, and you’ve set the stage for a monster tea party.
Decorate With a Bit of Biology
With a little advance planning, your kids can recreate a spider egg sac that can double as a piñata. Blow up a large round balloon, tie it off with a knot and then cover the surface with strips of paper held in place with a homemade paste made of flour and water. Leave one patch of balloon the size of a small fist uncovered.
Allow about a week for the paper to dry fully. Once it’s cured, pop the balloon, and paint the outside of the form a creamy color. When it’s dry, fill the inside with little plastic spiders, trinkets and candy. The spider egg can be used as a reach-in bowl for those brave enough to do so. If it’s going to serve as a piñata, be sure to add a hook and cover up the bare spot.
Get Your Kicks with Chemistry
Whether you mix it up beforehand or allow your kids to do it themselves, it doesn’t get any goopier than this slime. It’s also an interesting study in polymers, that is, long chains of molecules. It’s made of water, school glue and just a bit of Borax (available in the laundry aisle of your local store).
A splash of food coloring takes it up a notch. Green or pink slime is always more exciting than plain old white slime, no? We followed a recipe from The Kitchen Pantry Scientist that can be scaled up or down according to your plans.
Engineer Some Fun
PBS’s Design Squad site is a wonderful resource for engineering projects for kids ages 8—10. Its idea for a big inflatable ghost in your front yard might be just the thing to scream, “The party’s here!” Made from trash bags and tape and fueled by a gently hacked vacuum cleaner, it’s pretty easy to make.
Design Squad also provides tips on a DIY light stick fueled by household items that provides a simple electronics lessons.
If you have a strong sense of adventure (not to mention a high tolerance for grossness), the folks at MAKE have two tutorials to get your little goblins producing Hollywood-grade scars and monster skin in no time.
I hope you have a very spooky and STEAMy Halloween with these activities!