6 Simple Outdoor STEM Activities to Engage Your Child

Written by Alita Miller


When the weather is nice, kids have a fantastic opportunity to dive into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) activities. These activities are not only fun but also incredibly helpful for learning. They teach kids how things work and spark their curiosity about the world around them. When kids take part in STEM activities, they become better at solving problems, thinking deeply, and being creative — skills that will be really useful for their jobs when they grow up. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor has found that jobs in STEM fields like computers, engineering, and advanced manufacturing are growing faster than other types of jobs. So, when kids get involved in STEM, they’re getting ready for a future full of exciting possibilities!

Here are six easy and fun STEM activities to engage your child outdoors:


1. Natural Artists

Have your kids collect materials from nature and create art to share with the family. They may work alone or in pairs to unearth the outdoors. Their stem art may result in a picture frame, a sculpture, a robot or a mural. Creativity and imagination are encouraged. Ask them to think through where the materials come from, their role in nature, what the world would be like without them, and the colors, shapes and textures they discovered. What is a habitat and what do these materials tell us about the habitat? This is the perfect science activity for preschoolers.


2. I Spy STEM Walk

Taking a walk through nature or anywhere outdoors can be a fun stem activity for elementary children. Identify how or where STEM is involved by pointing out science, technology, engineering and math wherever you see it and encourage your kids to join in. How do trees stay alive? How are buildings constructed? What lives outdoors versus indoors and why? What do you notice up in the sky? What technology can be found outdoors?


3. Shadow Tracking

A really fun stem activity for preschoolers is Shadow Tracking. Learn all about the movement of the earth by tracking shadows throughout the day. For this STEM activity, have your children stand in the same spot at various times and mark with chalk on the sidewalk how “tall” their shadow is at each hour. Discuss why our shadows shrink and grow and what that teaches us about the movement of the earth.


4. Earthquake Test

Experiment with foundations by testing various structures on top of different outdoor surfaces (sand, dirt, mud, concrete, water). Challenge them to create a bridge or building using materials you provide (popsicle sticks, toothpicks, Legos or anything found nearby), and let them work to figure out how to make it steady. Have a competition to see which structure holds the most weight or withstands an “earthquake.”


5. Water Challenge

Use water games to have youth solve problems as a team. Put them in groups and challenge them to move a large amount of water from one bucket to another using only a smaller bucket with large holes in the bottom. Let them brainstorm strategies for plugging the holes and keeping as much water as possible in the bucket in order to fill up their large bucket quickly. Have them measure the water and discuss the factors that make them move more or less water. This water-involved STEM activity for elementary children is sure to keep them cool on the hottest days!


6. Sink or Float

What makes some materials sink in water while others float? Ask them to make predictions about the sample materials (a penny, tin foil, a Lego, a plastic cup, a spoon) and then ask follow up questions about what patterns they noticed. What do they suspect made some objects float while others sank?


ASYMCA Supports Military Families

At Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), we understand the unique challenges military families face, and that’s why we’re dedicated to providing not only valuable enrichment programs for children but also a platform for families to connect and support each other. Our commitment goes beyond just engaging kids in STEM activities — we strive to create a community where military families can come together, share experiences, and find strength in their shared journey. Through our programs, families have the opportunity to not only nurture their children’s curiosity and skills but also build lasting relationships with other families who understand the military lifestyle.

Your support enables us to continue offering these essential programs that make a positive impact on the lives of military families.