With the holiday season starting, plans are starting to be made, maybe even packing has begun. As your trip comes close you may be wondering, if you are traveling by car, how to keep the kids entertained for such long hours of just sitting. I have a fun STEM road trip experiment for you that will engage them and to keep them off screens for a while! You will find a free printable at the end of this post that you can use for the experiment.
The STEM Road Trip Experiment
This experiment aims to answer one or more of the following simple questions:
- What is the most/least popular car color?
- How many people are found in a car more/less often?
- What is the most/least popular car brand?
So, how to find out the answer to this question? Just as a scientist would. Observe and collect data of a sample (the cars you drive by). But first, get your kids to guess (or hypothesize) about the answer first and write it down.
Once your children have written down their hypotheses it is time to start collecting data. Before you start the experiment, you can decide on a sample size, or in other words, decide how many cars you need to get an accurate result. Since this might be difficult to keep track of, I would suggest you decide how long your kids will be tallying up those cars, for example until the next gas station or 15min. Once that has been decided it is time to fill out the printable. For whatever question they choose they are going to have to look out the window, observe the cars they see and keep a tally of the different options. Here is an example of what the printable would look like once your kids start filling it out:
The results of your STEM road trip experiment
Once you are finished count and write the total of each option and find out if anyone guessed correctly! You can turn this into a game by giving points to whoever guessed right and do it more than once for each question and for a different amount of time. You can also turn it into a collaborative game if you have more than one kid in the car. For example, they can help each other; one looks out one window and the other out the other and they each collect information and then you add it together or one looks and the other one writes down the results. There are many combinations possible, depending on age and interest, feel free to find what works best for your kids.
Time for some reflective thinking
It is always a good idea to reflect back on the experiment you just did to see the results in context. By looking back you realize that there are some connections between the results and something hidden. For example, if you are traveling to a touristy location for families, as you approach your destination you will probably start to see more cars with families in it (more passengers) and the brand of the car will probably be a family friendly brand (probably not many sports cars). Examples of things you can reflect on with your kids and think about how the results might vary:
- Time of day
- Close to big cities or far from them
- Holiday season
- Location (beach, mountains, family destination, airport…)
Here is the link for the printable, you can print out a few of each experiment to have extras. There is also a blank experiment page at the end that you can use for your own experiment! See what questions you can come up with!
Here is the printable for the experiment: STEM Road Trip Experiment
Hope this experiment brings you some peace during long hours of driving. Let me know if you thought of any other fun questions!
For other fun STEM experiments check these posts out:
For tips on how to transform your STEM activities:
Happy STEM learning!