7 Easily Built STEM Centers that Foster Creativity

Let imaginations (and learning) run wild!

STEM Centers that Foster Creativity

Creative classrooms not only look different, they feel different. They provide an environment where children are encouraged to think outside the box, build their problem-solving skills, and learn to collaborate with their classmates.

Building STEM centers that foster creativity doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need is a smart layout that provides designated areas stocked with a wide variety of everyday materials, and time for your students to let their imaginations run wild.

Here are seven easy STEM centers to include in your classroom layout.

1. Tinker Workbench

Kids love to put on their inventor hats and assemble gadgets and gizmos in new and exciting ways.

Items to include:
Odds and ends, nuts and bolts, hinges, magnets, rubber bands, paper clips, keys and locks, corks, gears, wire, aluminum foil and pans, tin cans, old phone cords, plastic lids, simple tools.

STEM center activities to try:

  • Share a few pages from The Way Things Work by David MacCauley, then create your own invention.
  • Create a 3D sculpture of a nature scene made from hardware bits and pieces.
  • Construct a machine that demonstrates the concept of balance.

Source: https://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/2014/02/07/hanoch-pivens-drawing-objects

 

2. Writing Nook

Create an enticing space for your little Shakespeares to express their thoughts on STEM topics using the written word.

Items to include:
Different types of paper (lined, bordered, colored), stationery, colored pens and markers, samples of writing styles, comfy seat, quiet, privacy, alphabet, high-frequency words, book-making supplies like this paper bag book, topic lists.

STEM center activities to try:

  • Create a poem about an animal you’re studying.
  • Write your own how to book to describe a simple procedure.
  • Compose a thank you letter to a famous inventor.
  • Write a story about one of the inventions you made at the Tinker station.

 

3. Mini Robotics Lab

Your kids can learn to code just by playing and exploring with these adorable robots and Wonder Workshop’s new K-5 Learn to Code curriculum which includes 72 sequenced Challenge Cards. Each card has a story that engages students in creative problem-solving scenarios.

Items to include:
Dash & Dot robots and Wonder Workshop task cards—which we’re giving away right now!

STEM center activities to try:

  • Teach Dash how to get down and boogie.
  • Help Dash escape from the Dot monster.
  • Design a game of Duck, Duck, Goose for Dot to play with friends.

Dash & Dot Challenge Cards Must-Have Spaces That Foster Creativity

 

4. Building Station

Tap into your students’ natural engineering skills with a space for your students to build and create.

Items to include:
LEGO bricks, tinker toys, wooden blocks, K’NEX, connectagons, magnetix, Brain Flakes, any other type of building materials.

STEM center activities to try:

  • Have a challenge to see who can build the highest tower with the fewest pieces.
  • After reading a fairy tale, create your own dream castle.
  • Build a model that demonstrates the concept of pattern.
  • Construct a bridge strong enough to support Dash the robot’s weight as he rolls over it.

 

5. Nature Table

A nature table is a wonderful way to invite children to learn about the natural world as they engage in play-based learning.

Items to include:
Rocks and pebbles, sticks of all sizes, pine cones, assorted shells, acorns, dried grasses, sand, seeds, pods, moss, bark, raffia, bird seed.

STEM center activities to try:

  • Make a model of the planets using natural materials.
  • Create a beautiful design that demonstrates symmetry.
  • Recreate a scene from a story.
Nature Table Must-Have Spaces That Foster Creativity
Source: http://montessoribeginnings.blogspot.com/2011/10/autumn-nature-table.html

 

6. Sensory Area

Sometimes the vibe in classrooms can get pretty chaotic. Create a special area for students who need a place to refuel and reconnect with their creativity.

Items to include:
Noise-cancelling headphones, fidget items such as soda tab fidget or stress balls, bean bags, squishy balls, stretchy bands, Rubics cube, coloring books, yoga ball.

STEM center activities to try:

  • Do stretches with stretchy bands.
  • Put on noise-cancelling headphones and color for five minutes.
  • Close your eyes, breathe deeply and slowly, and occupy your hands with a fidget item.
  • Mellow out with a rain stick made with materials from the Nature Table.

 

7. Art Corner

Ask any young child if they are an artist and they will answer with a resounding YES! Give them space to work with a variety of craft materials to create their masterpieces and incorporate art into STEM.

Items to include:
Paint, markers, papers, scissors, glue, yarn, cardboard tubes, pom-poms, foam shapes, googly eyes, tin foil, popsicle sticks, empty spools, buttons, tissue paper, clay, pipe cleaners, contact paper, cotton balls

STEM center activities to try:

Easily Built STEM Centers

 

Posted by Elizabeth Mulvahill

Elizabeth Mulvahill is a passionate teacher, writer and mom who loves learning new things, traveling the globe and everything Zen.

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