Spark an interest and curiosity in learning with this STEM project for kids. This experiment gives children the opportunity to pretend to be a surgeon through play based learning and is a unique STEM challenge that kids are sure to love.
STEM projects for kids are an easy way to develop things like problem solving skills, team work and an interest in Science Technology Engineering and Math.
I have done this experiment several times and it is always a hit! One of the great things about this STEM project for kids is that you can use it for any theme, holiday or season.
I have used this experiment at home with my own children and even in the classroom. For the classroom, I made 15 trays to use with several different kindergarten groups. The experiment encourages children to make careful observations, be precise and use their senses.
With Christmas around the corner, I decided to make our experiment Christmas and winter themed, but you can use any theme and any materials that you have on hand.
The base for this experiment is gelatin (jello). Children will not be eating it, but rather exploring the material and carefully removing items from it. It is an unusual material to use, but that’s the fun of it. Gelatin is easy and inexpensive to use and encourages children to explore a familiar material in a whole new way.
Use a favorite treat that kids are familiar with to create this wiggly STEM project for kids! You can find the base of the material (gelatin) at most grocery stores. I was even able to get it at a dollar store. So the cost and prep time needed for this experiment is minimal.
This science experiment is easy to create and prepare. Depending on the theme you can choose a gelatin color that fits your theme and then add different materials to the gelatin. You will need:
- Gelatin Mix
- Gems, Beads etc.
- Aluminum Tray
- Magnifying Glasses (Optional)
- Finger Lights (Optional)
Since the gelatin mix is flavored and scented, make sure to remind children that it is not to be eaten during the experiment (or after) – especially since there are small trinkets throughout.
Simply change the gelatin color and the trinkets that you use and engage children all over again each time you do the project. From birthday party themed to Christmas, the possibilities are endless with this STEM project for kids.
Just about anything will work for the small items that you put into the gelatin. I chose a variety of different items depending on when I was doing the experiment. For a winter theme I used blue gelatin with silver snowflake sequins. For Christmas, I used red and yellow gelatin with bells and wooden trinkets of different Christmas images.
When I did the experiment without a specific theme I used purple gelatin and added beads, pompoms, buttons and foam shapes. Whatever you put in the tray will look exciting and engaging for kids.
STEM Project for Kids
Kids love having the opportunity to feel like real scientists. Giving them magnifying glasses and even tweezers, adds a new level to any experiment. Children will use the tools and look at things in a whole new way.
Start by mixing the gelatin dessert by following the directions. Next, pour the liquid into the aluminum tray. Before it sets, drop in your trinkets. It is okay if some don’t sink to the bottom, the gelatin will set with some of the items on the top and others on the bottom.
You can also try different layers of different colored gelatin and add different items to each layer.
If you are looking to involve children even more in this project, they can help mix and make the gelatin base and see how the liquid changes and how the experiment is prepared.
Once the gelatin is set, you are ready for your experiment!
Once you have all of the materials ready, challenge the children to be scientists. With our Christmas themed experiment, I told my students that there had been a mix up at the North Pole and a bunch of Christmas decorations had been spilled into a magical jiggly material and we need their help to carefully get them out.
The challenge is to get the materials out of the ‘magical jelly’ without destroying the jelly as much as possible. The jelly will not keep the smooth top once children remove the trinkets, however, children will find ways to slowly remove the items and work to keep the jelly as intact as possible.
STEM Project for Kids – The Experiment
If you are doing the experiment at home, giving each child their own tray is ideal. If you are doing this experiment in a classroom, I suggest no more than 4 children for each tray.
I handed out magnifying glasses, tweezers and finger lights to each child. You don’t need to use all of these tools, but it will keep children engaged longer and encourage them to really explore the material.
Encourage children to start by inspecting the tray and its contents with the magnifying glasses and finger light. What do they see? What does it smell like? Gently touch the material with a finger – what does it feel like?
With the tweezers, everyone is encouraged to carefully and slowly remove all of the gems they can find. I didn’t specifically tell students that the substance was gelatin dessert. However, some children made the connection and recognized the feel and smell.
Allow kids lots of time to pretend to be surgeons and take their time to really explore the materials in their tray.
I love introducing children to new experiences and learning opportunities! A simple STEM project for kids, like this, is an easy way to touch on and develop children’s senses.
This turned out to be a great sensory, and fine motor skill activity!
Another element that I hadn’t expected was how interested children were when they pulled a gem or trinket out of the jelly. They loved watching what happened as they pulled it out and found different ways to put their tweezers into the jelly to remove the items.
STEM projects don’t have to be expensive or require a lot of prep work. Some of the best STEM projects for kids involve everyday materials used in a whole new way.
This was a very engaging STEM project for kids that I hope you try out!
STEM Projects for Kids Materials
Creating this STEM project is simple and I’ve tried to make it even easier below by giving you links to products that you can use for your gelatin molds and to do the experiment.
For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.
More Hands On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more learning activities to do with kids, below are a collection of my favorite, and most popular hands-on activities to do. From more STEM projects for kids and STEM challenges to escape room ideas and arts and crafts.