Learning from Home – STEM competition opportunities for students

Posted November 23, 2020 by Jessica Fahrenholtz

As we head into the colder months and many areas begin to experience lockdowns, many families wonder how to encourage their students to pursue STEAM activities from home. 

Here are 4 STEM-based activities you can do with your student from home this season. 

Use Legos to teach the basics of coding at home. 

Coding can be complicated for beginners, but when you break it down and add an element of fun, you can teach kids as young as elementary school the necessary specifics of any coding language. 

Have your child create an elaborate maze out of Legos. Depending on the age of your child, they may be able to do this step independently. After the maze is complete, place a character at the center of the maze and have your child note all the steps the character will need to take to get out of the maze. 

This will look something like, go straight, go straight, turn left, go straight, etc. This game allows kids to strengthen their problem-solving abilities and teaches them to think from the point of view of the character they are freeing from the maze. They are also creating a sequence in this activity, much like the sequences they may grow up and use when coding. 

Use jelly beans or marshmallows to teach children about structural foundations.   

This project is great for kids to try by themselves or as a team. You can even add an extra level of challenge by giving them a time restraint, having them work with only one hand, or building a structure together without speaking. 

 The object is to build the tallest structure possible using just toothpicks and jelly beans or marshmallows. Students will quickly figure out the importance of a strong base and play around with different geometric shapes to find one that’s strong enough to support their tall structure. This project allows for creative collaboration, and kids always have a blast in the process. 

 Create a stop motion animation at home

Most kids are fascinated to learn how some of their favorite videos are actually made. With technology today, it is easy to recreate their favorite stop motion animation from home. First, have your student create the scene, story, and characters they would like to include in their movie. 

Then using a cell phone, tablet, or camera, students can take pictures of their scene and then slightly move the characters before taking another picture. When all photos are layered upon one another, it creates a classic stop motion animation film. 

Most students enjoy this project because it allows them to feel like real-life movie producers. It also helps them to appreciate how much work goes into creating a video that is over an hour-long of seamless photo animation.  

 Sign your student up for one of these free academic competitions.

Academic competitions are one of the best ways to subsidize what students are already learning. They have become so popular that many schools are even starting to include them in their curriculum. 

With many families being forced to now find ways to incorporate these hands-on activities at home, these free academic competitions could be a great way to keep your student thinking, collaborating, and learning from home. 

Math Works Math Modeling Challenge: This free academic competition requires students to work together to solve an open-ended math-modeling problem. The top teams will win $100,000 in scholarships to put towards continuing their education. 

Virtual Supreme Court – 2020: This free academic competition gives students the chance to research constitutional law, Create persuasive briefs, and argue their point against other teams of students like real lawyers. This is a great competition to give kids experience in front of industry professionals and explore the idea of possibly pursuing a career in law. 

Best Robotics Challenge: This free academic competition gives students the chance to learn STEM skills while building and competing against one another in robotics. This is the perfect way to get kids excited about STEM and take the lead on a project they care about.

Math Video Challenge: In this free academic competition, students get the opportunity to make a video based on a Math Counts problem. In this video, students will show the real-world applications of the problem they solve. 


Ready to add an academic competition to your student’s education? Head to our competitions page to see what academic competitions are coming up. Set up your account to follow competitions that excite you and stay up-to-date on all the news with academic competitions.

Are you interested in more than one competition? Upgrade to a premium account so you can track your progress in competitions, get insider information on academic competitions, access the ICS competitions concierge, and gain exclusive discounts on ICS-managed programs.