# Christmas STEM Activities for Middle School

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has taught high school history in several states with a master's degree in teaching.

Linking a holiday with a set of activities will help channel student enthusiasm and energy for the holiday into their school work. Use these activities in the days leading up to winter break.

## Christmas STEM Activities

STEM activities give students the opportunity to focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The great thing about finding holiday STEM activities is that your students will already be spending most of their mental energy thinking about the upcoming holidays and winter break, so this will let them use that energy productively. These activities are designed to work with skills and concepts that are already in your middle school curriculum. There are opportunities for both group and individual work in this asset.

## Dissolve the Candy Canes: A Lesson in pH

In this activity, students will see how different solutions dissolve a candy cane at different rates. Begin this science experiment like you would any other experiment in your class. This should include grabbing lab goggles, gloves, beakers, various liquids, and candy canes.

Although you could use any liquids, a great experiment could use water (the control), lemon juice, milk, baking soda water, and soapy water. Have students test the pH of these liquids.

Talk with students about the scientific method. The question you are seeking to answer this day is, ''Which liquid will dissolve a candy cane the fastest?'' Individually or as a class, students should create a hypothesis about which liquids will work fastest and justify their answer.

Next, begin the experiment by placing one small candy cane in each of the beakers. Add enough liquid to cover the candy. Students should record notes about what is happening in each of the beakers. After 15 minutes, remove the candy canes and allow students to compare. Talk about why some candy canes are smaller than others.

• Materials Needed: Beakers, miniature candy canes, various liquids, science safety equipment

## Building Santa's Sleigh: An Engineering Activity

For this activity, students will be tasked with building a sleigh sturdy enough to carry Santa and his large bag of gifts. Begin by breaking students into groups of three or four. Give each group its supplies: miniature marshmallows and toothpicks. Instruct students to build a sleigh that is at least an eight-inch cube. The object that will represent Santa and his sleigh should be a small plate with a collection of similarly-shaped rocks.

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