There are so many fun STEM activities for kids out there, but not all of them are easy to set up, and some require quite a few elaborate or expensive materials and supplies to set up properly. So what is a teacher to do who has a limited budget and far too-little time? Try some of these no prep STEM challenges of course!
All of these experiments and activities can be set up in less than five minutes and take supplies that you probably already have in your classroom!
If you like to do easy and fun STEM challenges with your students, then keep reading to get to the fun STEM challenges!
No-Prep STEM Challenges for Elementary
What is the benefit of no prep STEM challenges? There are two big benefits.
First, teachers can spend less time setting up experiments and more time doing experiments with their students and teaching.
Second, the cost of some STEM materials can be astronomical, and many schools simply do not have the budget for pricy STEM supplies. Luckily, all of the experiments on this list use easy-to-source supplies and most use things you probably already have in the classroom, saving a bundle!
Before we get to the list of no prep STEM activities, check out what I like to keep on hand in my STEM lab.
Where to Buy Supplies for Your No Prep STEM Challenges
While you can find most of what you need on Amazon, I tend to try and avoid shopping on Amazon when possible to give smaller businesses a chance.
Additionally, sometimes it can be hard to source teacher supplies on Amazon at reasonable prices.
I like shopping for STEM resources at Oriental Trading Company, because not only do they have supplies meant to be used in the classroom, but they also often have supplies that come in classroom sets, which keeps the cost of STEM supplies down.
If you want to set up something really unique to your lessons, download the free STEM supply list of supplies that I always keep on hand. Click the image below to pick up your copy of the supply list.
10+ No Prep Science Challenges for Elementary Kids
Below, find some of my favorite STEM challenges that don’t take any prep time! You can do the experiments and activities right away, and most of the STEM concepts are easily digestible for kids!
Without further ado, here are our favorite no prep STEM challenges! And if that isn’t enough STEM activity ideas for you, check out our other list of no-prep STEM activities here.
No-Prep Science Experiments
Here you’ll find the very best no-prep science experiments.
In this penny science project, learn how to make a penny battery! It’s a super fun science experiment that kids will want to repeat again and again.
When you set up the penny paper towel experiment, kids will be able to experiment with the strength of paper towels and note how the strength changes whether the paper towel is wet or dry.
Students will love seeing how many drops of water can fit on the surface of a penny in this surface tension experiment.
Without any preparation, do the walking rainbow experiment to teach capillary action and surface tension at the same time.
When kids learn how to turn a penny green, they learn about the chemistry behind reactions and the basics of chemical changes.
Learn about light refraction in this bending pencil experiment.
No-Prep Technology Activities
These technology activities require no time to prep!
Start by learning how do trees make oxygen and then talk about the technology that humans use to harvest oxygen for scuba diving and other uses.
Kids always love the laminar flow experiment because it looks like the water is frozen in time!
When kids do this light refraction science experiment, you can discuss how light refraction is used for making glasses and contacts.
Make flashlight constellations and discuss how sailors and ancient travelers used to be able to navigate the world using only the stars.
No-Prep Engineering Activities
Engineering activities you can get started in seconds!
I love this build a bridge stem challenge because it is a clever way to show children how important engineering is in everyday life!
In this fun STEM challenge, students are challenged to build the sturdiest clothespin and popsicle stick tower possible using just clothespins and craft sticks!
Who doesn’t love making paper airplanes? And in this paper airplane engineering challenge you can add a STEM element to the fun of paper airplane making.
Kids can learn how to make a cloud in a jar and learn about how engineers must sometimes simulate environments to test certain products.
Every student I have every taught has loved this spaghetti engineering project. It’s a fun way to see how adding more of something can make it a lot stronger!
No-Prep Math Activities
Fun math activities with zero prep time!
The Mobius strip is so simple to make, but the math is super complicated! Learn how to make a mobius strip in this activity.
There are many fun variations to this Uno math game!
Help kids strengthen multiplication fact memorization when you do the multiplication dice game.
What is your favorite no prep STEM challenge?