STEM Activities for our Houston friends

Hi everyone:

We just heard that it may be until September 11 that Houston children can go back to school. We’ve been providing STEM education for girls in Houston for over 4 years, and we have been our Houston office for over a year. We know our schools and families are hurting. We are hurting for them, too. We are, in our own small way, trying to do things to help. We are putting together welcome kits for the groups of families that come to shelter in Austin. We are hoping to bring some hands-on science activities to families who are sheltering in Houston, Dallas, and Austin. We also thought that because Houston schools won’t be in session for two more weeks, maybe, just maybe, we have a few ideas to help parents and children between now and then.

At the end of each year we have a virtual program called DeSTEMber and in it, we share daily activities that you can do with really simple materials. We know that not everyone has access to all the materials right now, but maybe you do have some of them. So we, your DeSTEMber elves, want to try to bring you some fun science cheer during this tough time. We’ll re-post some of the more popular and accessible DeSTEMber activities between now and the first day back to school, and we’ll also post some of our awesome videos that are both fun and inspiring. I hope that if your interest is piqued, you’ll also look back at our other DeSTEMber or Hands-On Wednesday blogposts, or our Pinterest pages, or our Instagram photos to find more STEM fun.

We’re getting ready to begin Girlstart After School this fall in 80+ Houston, Central Texas, the Dallas/Ft Worth area, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley, Waco, and Bryan/College Station schools. We know that all Girlstart girls are brave, creative, and curious and we can’t wait to begin another year of weekly after school STEM.

We also hope that all of you can think about ways that you, too, can #helpHouston!

Tamara and all of us at Girlstart

Hands-On Wednesday: Test Your Senses

Today’s activity doesn’t require a lot of materials, but it’s a great test for your senses! Our muscles, tendons, joints, and inner ear all contain what is called proprioceptors. These ‘stretch receptors’ help us know positional locations, which means that we have a sense of where our hands, fingers, and other body parts are in relation to the rest of our body and the environment around us. See how well your proprioceptors are working by completing a few simple tasks with your eyes shut.

Hands-On Wednesday: Agate Candy


Observe both a physical and a chemical reaction in this tasty experiment. You may have seen agate crystals used as a colorful home decorations, but it took many years for these rock formations to develop.  Agate crystals are formed when microcrystals within a hollow pocket of a host rock begin self-organizing to form patterns. The colors and arrangements of the crystals are influenced by changes in temperature, pressure, and mineral content. Luckily, our experiment only requires a physical change by being crushed, a chemical change from the oven by being heated and melted, and it takes a lot less time to develop these crystals!

Hands-On Wednesday: Paddle Boats


We are nearing the end of summer, but it is still so much fun to play in the water! With this hands-on project, we created a paddle boat that is able speed through the water by using foam based propellers to drive it. By twisting the rubber bands attached to the propellers, you build up potential energy. When the propellers are released, the energy changes to kinetic and you get to watch your boat zoom away!