Family STEM Challenge (Like a STEM Night, but More Fun!)

Grade Level(s): K-8

Date(s): Whenever You Want to Host

Location: Your School

Cost: $500 for Kit (plus shipping)

Description: The Science House (TSH) and the Center for Inquiry-Based Learning (CIBL) created the Family STEM Challenge to provide schools, after school programs, and other youth-serving organizations the opportunity to build and enhance relationships with family members and to engage and inspire young people to explore STEM in a fun way. Planning an event like a Family STEM Challenge or a Science Night is a BIG undertaking and requires a lot of resources and time to plan and execute effectively. Also, a Family STEM Challenge should be fun, hands-on, accessible, cover different topics and interests, and give families opportunities to design, build, compete and take home something fun! This is where we come in. We provide a turnkey kit that any school, after-school program, or other youth-serving organization can pull off with even limited volunteers.

CIBL and TSH's Family STEM Challenge is a 90-minute program that combines science learning and family bonding with school community participation. Family STEM Challenge provides hands-on and competitive activities that demonstrate various scientific principles and make STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning fun, accessible, and more appealing to today’s students. Family STEM Challenge is designed for parents and caregivers to self-guide their students through each activity, supporting family-learning experiences that encourage children to continue pursuing STEM subjects through higher academic levels.

Each Family STEM Challenge kit provides all the materials, supplies, and directions for three highly engaging and motivating activities for up to 36 families (~150 family members). We highly recommend limiting the event to 36 families. However, if more than 36 families wish to participate, then host multiple Family STEM Challenges. For example, do one event for grades K-2 and then do another event for grades 3-5. If you would rather do only one event, you will need two Family STEM Challenge kits and host up to 72 families (~300 family members), but this will require more tables, space, and volunteers to make the event successful. One further point, when we first started speaking with schools, many of them assumed very quickly that they would have 60-80 families at the event, but this turned out not to be true. There are many events, activities, and opportunities that compete for your community's time. It is best to plan for a targeted number of families and not assume that every family in the school will participate. More on preparing for this event below.

At the Family STEM Challenge, families will have a blast competing together in the following three exciting activities in 25-minute activity blocks:

It is Rocket Science
(Gym, Cafeteria, or Large Open Space)
Families construct and launch paper straw rockets. Rocket launched the farthest wins.

No Bones About It
(Media Center, Cafeteria or Several Classrooms)
Families assemble a skeleton from cut-out bones. Most bones placed correctly wins! 

Whatever Floats Your Boat
(Media Center, Science Lab, Cafeteria, or Several Classrooms)
Families design a boat that will hold as much weight as possible without sinking. Most mass held wins!

Each year, TSH and CIBL will create three new events so you can continue to do Family STEM Challenges with new, fun, and exciting events. In fact, we’ve already created the following cool events which will be featured in future Family STEM Challenge kits: Marshmallow Catapult, LED Flashlight, Hovercraft, Brick by Brick, and Ain’t No Tower High Enough.

Contact(s): Jason Painter (

Application Deadline: Kits can be purchased at anytime. To reserve a kit, please complete the application link below.