Wondering where to take your small fry to experience STEM fun through hands-on science? We offer six ideas of places that offer education programs for a wide range of ages, many of them ongoing. Plus we keep track of fun STEM events and at-home fun here!
Hands-On Science and STEM Fun At Home
- The Bell Museum’s Website is packed with STEM fun you can view at home – How to be a Citizen Scientist in your backyard, how to identify spring animal sounds, watch as they feed a baby box turtle, and more.
- Learn Natural Sciences by Getting Out Into Nature: 65+ Fun Nature Play Ideas for Kids
- Gianna has gathered some fun Science Activities for Kids.
- Check out one of the Kitchen Pantry Scientist books by Minnesota’s Liz Heinecke
- We’ve recently found a few alternatives to those expensive subscription boxes that could keep a family happily occupied with STEM activities all year long!
- Ramsey County Library STEM Kits – Check Them Out & Bring Them Home! Two cool facts about Ramsey County Library: 1) Patrons can checkout STEM kits designed for families with children ages 3-7. They come in a variety of themes, including magnets, motion, buoyancy, length, weight, volume and capacity, shapes and colors, patterns, and counting and numbers, and can be borrowed for three weeks at a time and can be renewed if there are no requests. 2) Anyone in the 7-county metropolitan area can get a Ramsey County Library Card. Bring in a current picture ID. Kids need to have a parent’s current picture ID.
- Environmental Education Kits for your Home School Group! These kits are not available to individuals or those outside Hennepin County, but groups located in Hennepin County can borrow Education Kits, Supplies & Event Displays. If you belong to a home school group, PTA, club or scouting group, it appears your group could qualify. While these kits range from propaganda to demonstrations to hands-on activities, they discuss environmental topics such as recycling, water management and waste prevention. For individual families, this same site offers Curriculum Ideas and Activity Guides to download.
- The Works At Home Engineering Kits. Kits are $32/each and you’ll need to schedule a pick up time. You’ll get everything you need to do some cool engineering activities.
- Edina RECtivity Boxes include Science Explorer STEM Kits. These kits are $30 per box and includes shipping to your home.
- 3M offers these (somewhat product-heavy) ideas for Creating a STEM-friendly home environment.
6 Places for Anytime Hands-on Science with Kids
Many of these places are starting to reopen in the fall of 2020 — but not all of them. Check their websites for open hours.
1. Raptor Center Tours | Gabbert Raptor Center (Currently Closed to the Public)
Address: 1920 Fitch Ave, St. Paul
When: Currently Closed.
Details: Bring kids of any age for a fun and educational visit to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center. Check out their remodeled raptor habitats, and get up close to bald eagles, kestrels, owls and falcons. The Raptor Center treats about 800 injured birds a year with the goal of releasing them back to the wild. Read more about taking kids to the Raptor Center here.
Address: 3537 Zenith Avenue South, Minneapolis
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10am-5pm
Cost: $11/adults, $6/children 4+; FREE 3 and under
Details: Whether you go on your own schedule or for a special program, The Bakken always has hands-on science fun to explore. Read more about it here.
3. The Works (Currently Closed)
Address: 9740 Grand Ave, Bloomington
When: Hours vary throughout the year. The museum is closed during the Covid-19 Pandemic, but they do offer at home kits (see above) and other virtual programming.
Cost: $9/pp ($12/Special Events at the Door)
Details: Dig into the guts of machines and electronics and figure out how those gadgets work! All supplies provided.
Address: 120 W. Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul
When: Fridays & Saturdays: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sundays: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (advanced reservations required)
Cost: $14.95-$19.95 (additional for Omni-Theatre; low income discount available).
Details: Three stories of permanent and traveling science exhibits. Find find hands-on science activities to go with whatever you are studying.
5. Kroening Interpretive Center (Building Closed)
Address: 4900 Mississippi Court, Minneapolis
When: The building is currently closed, but MPRB is still offering nature activities and events. Search and register here.
Cost: Free (Some special activities have a fee)
Details: Explore on your own or in a special activity. Find this are more ideas for nature play here.
Address: 2088 Larpenteur Avenue West, Saint Paul, MN, USA
When: Thursday-Sunday 10am-3pm (Advanced Tickets Required)
Cost: Ages 21-64: $12; 65+: $10; 3-21 $9; Under 3: Free
Details: The recently re-built and updated Bell Museum re-opened in the summer of 2018 and has brought back its popular planetarium along with natural history exhibits.
Annual STEM Fun Events to Look Forward to Most Years!
- Cool Chemistry. For girls in grades 7-8 features interactive workshops, chemistry “tricks,” and new skills. (2021 date TBA – usually Spring)
- Public Lectures—College of Science and Engineering. For grades 9-12. Public lectures on scientific discoveries – Next Lecture: TBA – Look for Zoom Lectures in 2020/2021.
- Public Energy and U Show For grades 3-8. An interactive show incorporating explosions, flames, flying pop bottles, music, and dancing and teach thermodynamics, world energy use, and energy challenges. (2021 dates TBA – usually January and May)
- Public telescope viewings. All ages. Presentation followed by outdoor observing. (Fridays during the Spring and Fall Semester – Currently suspended in 2020)
- Robot show. All ages. Public show featuring robots built by 200+ engineering students (2020 TBA – usually December).
- Universe in the Park (Weekends all summer)
- Physics Force Show. • Northrop Auditorium • Physicists demonstrate their science with crazy stunts. The shows are free but reservations are required. Register here. Next Show: TBA.
Signature Events at the Works Museum
The Works Museum has three large events a year, all of which feature hands-on activities and demonstrations to bring engineering and STEM to life in a uniquely kid-friendly way. These events are aimed at families with children ages 4-13.
February • Tech Fest • Featuring kid-friendly demos of emerging technology and activities led by scientists, engineers, and educators.
April • Robot Day • A day to watch demos by local robotics experts and local teens and learn about robots used in local industry. Hands-on activities with kid-friendly robotics,
September • Girl Time • This event features women engineers and women in other STEM-oriented careers. This event is aimed at girls, but boys are welcome.
For more fun hands-on science activities, Gianna has found some great activities you can try at home:
- Click Here for More STEM Fun