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STEM activities at home from the Energy Department

Ok, so you’re not a professional teacher. Your home isn’t a science museum or a day care or a classroom. But with your children at home rather than at school as your community responds to COVID-19, they are your students and it’s up to you to keep them busy and learning.

This might seem like a daunting challenge, but fortunately, you are not alone.  Help is available. The U.S. Department of Energy and many other great science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) learning organizations have you covered. With interactive digital content and instructions for simple activities you can do at home, parents and children have plenty of hours of STEM content to explore . This is especially true regarding the vast subject of energy.

Discover Energy

Let’s start with the basics – what is energy, anyway? Our Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Energy Explained website has a solid download for you on renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy, including a historical review and current stats.

Once you’ve gotten that far, check out the EIA’s Kids games & activities page for some virtual field trips to energy sites, energy riddles and puzzles, and an energy slang game.

Play With Liquid Nitrogen

Don’t miss Jefferson Lab’s Joanna and Steve with their liquid nitrogen experiments and other messy and crazy science activities that they perform and show you on their Frostbite Theatre video series. You get to know what happens if you, say, pour liquid nitrogen all over your floor or heat it in your microwave, without the results that go with it.

Tour Idaho National Laboratory

Nuclear is an energy source that’s always on – just like our new virtual field trip of Idaho National Laboratory. In our new partnership with the American Nuclear Society and Discovery Education, you can meet our staff at Idaho National Laboratory and learn about their nuclear fuel technologies, all under 30 minutes. Parents, there’s also a teacher guide that goes with it to give you some questions and follow up activities.  

Meet a Role Model

There’s thousands of talented, inspiring, and innovative women in STEM jobs at our National Laboratories, sites, and headquarters – and there’s fun profiles of over 100 of them on our STEM Rising: Women @ Energy series website. Check out the page here to learn what inspired people to go into STEM, what advice they have for others, what they love about their job, and what they do in their free time. Oh, and as a bonus you can read their advice to the nation on how to get more women into STEM careers.

Do a Project

Have access to a printer? Or maybe you’re good at freehand art? Then you can build a model wind turbine and get inspired to harness the power of the wind. Our Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has a guide to building a wind turbine, with paper, scissors, a small bead, a tack or dress pin, and an eraser. It takes less than 20 min!

If you’d like to harness the power of the sun in your backyard or balcony and have pizza delivered, make sure to save your pizza box and try out our pizza box solar oven. You’ll need tape, black construction paper, scissors, foil, and a ruler or a stick.

Want to do a new project every single day? Well you're in luck because the Idaho National Laboratory's STEM team has a new download each morning, with easy info about grade level, materials needed, project objectives, and links for additional background. Click on the "learning at home" section here.

Comics & Coloring

You’ve heard of STEAM, right? That “A” in STEM is for art, and we have a couple tools in our toolbox for you creative types. Our Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility has a snazzy comic book all about the power of lasers and how we use them in the Lab, and our energy.gov/women page has downloadable coloring books on Women in the Manhattan Project and Women in STEM.

Become A Science Trivia Wiz

How can we fix the ozone layer? How many babies were born at Post Office Box 1663? What did an atomic bomb test look like? Well, we have the answers for you on the handy Bradbury Science Museum website, a partner to Los Alamos National Laboratory. Look at their favorite science question page here.

Do Some Reading & Listening

Don’t forget about our energy.gov STEM Rising blog, with stories of all things STEM at the Energy Department. You can learn about all the STEM activities and resources that you’ll want to keep your eye on as things get back to normal, and you can learn all about offices at DOE with their blogs, like this fantastic one from the Office of Nuclear Energy

Our Direct Current podcast is full of stories about our energy work and energy innovations, like acid rain, COVID19, underground neutrino tunnels, and the history of the Manhattan Project.

Bonus: Staff Picks

We don’t only love our own materials, or course. Here are some of our current picks from other STEM organizations & museums & zoos.

Browse through our STEM Rising website to learn about STEM programs and events at the U.S. Department of Energy, and send any questions to annemarie.horowitz@hq.doe.gov.