STEM@Home: Let’s Spark! At Home

The Smithsonian Institution’s Spark!Lab at the Holland Museum

Sure, ExploreHope and the Hope Summer Science Camps are your go-to for hands-on summer science experiences. But did you know there’s a nationally-recognized, year-round STEAM lab for kids just down the street from us? The Holland Museum has been a longtime partner for our camps, but especially now that they are hosting the Smithsonian (Yes, THAT Smithsonian!) Spark!Lab, allowing visitors to “explore inventions – and their own inventiveness.”

Hey! You’re inventive! And in today’s world, there are certainly plenty of opportunities for a clever kid to develop a problem-solving product. Although the museum is closed for now, the Holland Museum Spark!Lab website links to tons of great online resources for aspiring inventors to access at home. Check out two of our favorites below.

Spark!Lab Instructables

We love the Spark!Lab Instructables site – a place to virtually try some of the invention challenges. Ever made a spaceship? Today’s your day! Jet over to Instructables’ Design A Spaceship module and use the Spark!Lab approach to “Think it, Explore it, Sketch it, Create it, Try it, Tweak it!” Maybe you can even… “Sell it!” NASA’s always open to hearing from clever contractors!

  • Explore it: Investigate different spacecraft designs over the last 50 years. Why might designs change as missions change?
  • Sketch it: No astronaut would set off in a rocket without a mission plan – so sketch your plan before you start to virtually build!
  • Tweak it: “Faster, Cheaper, Better” – if it’s NASA’s logo, it can surely be yours.

READY TO LAUNCH? Info, tips, and more HERE.

DO Try This At Home!

At home? That’s the place to be these days – so visit DO Try This At Home, the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center’s answer to making invention part of your daily routine. Inject a little creative competition into your life with the “Now What?” Invention Game. First, you spin a silly situation. Then add a few crazy limitations – and see where your ingenuity takes you!

Incidentally, the “Now What?” game was developed with Scratch, a FREE online resource for kids (and curious adults!) to build and program interactive stories, games, and simulations. Why not invent a video game to flummox your friends, or animate a recent silly story to amuse your grandma, or just take whatever story is inside your head and get it out there to share? Start your Scratch adventure HERE.

Be sure to keep in touch with Hope Summer Science Camps for great STEM resources throughout the summer, and thanks again to the Holland Museum Spark!Lab for a wonderful partnership!

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