Germs

Hi everyone!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Hope you’ve got a willing assistant who can do all these experiments whilst you sit with your feet up 😉

Welcome to weeSTEMs ONLINE. And welcome to the first themed week – all about germs.

Germ virus

I thought since there’s so much chat in the world about Covid-19 I would do a nice series of activities for families to explore and talk about the Coronavirus together – in a relaxed and safe environment. The following activities will allow you to explore what germs actually are, how they affect us and how we can take precautions to protect ourselves. Lets turn this changed world into a positive learning opportunity!

But first, a wee bit more info on how the weekly weeSTEMs ONLINE sessions will work. Each week there will be:

  • Themed Blog post with detailed activities
  • Trivia Tuesday – quiz related to the theme (posted on Facebook)
  • Family Fridays – highlighting a fun whole-family activity (posted on Facebook)
  • Online support to help you with any questions you may have – simply email me

I have also produced a fun STEM Bingo chart – for you to work your way through or simply pick and choose from whenever you fancy throughout the next few months. It might be fun to print this out and select a task at random when you feel like some STEM inspiration.

STEM Bingo chart for fun family challenges

Is there anything else you’d like to see? Email me or comment below and I’ll try my best!

The first thing I want to say about home learning is – DO NOT FORCE IT. Especially for the first week or so – let your kids have movie marathons, relax, read books, go walks in nature. Eventually you’ll want some structure or to mix things up and naturally children will look for activities to do. That’s when to show them the STEM Bingo chart and choose something together….or you could start by asking what they know/understand about the Coronavirus and then naturally lead onto doing some of the activities below.

All of these activities are created to be FUN and start an exploration. Children are AMAZING scientists – so let them lead the learning! The STEM activities below are simply starter ideas – let the ideas develop and explore the answers (just like real scientists would do!). If you don’t know an answer then let your children know that – by showing your excitement to learn more! Google it, find videos on their questions, or email me and I’ll try my best to answer your questions!

Have fun. Explore. Learn. Create. Question.

Science should give you joy - fun STEM learning ideas for during Covid-19 isolation
Science should give you joy

What is a germ?

Use this info as you see fit – you could create info-graphic posters with it (with your kids), simply read the facts to your kids, or just have the knowledge so that wherever the conversation leads you are more informed and able to provide information.

  • Washing your hands is the most effective way to stop the spread of germs
  • 1 germ can multiply into more than 8 million germs in 1 day
  • 1000 germs can fit in a straight line along the top of a pencil
  • Germs can stay on your hands for up to 3 hours (if you don’t wash them properly)
  • People don’t like germs because they can often make you feel ill
  • The body has many defences – your skin, hairs in your nose, and saliva all help to prevent germs from entering your body
  • Sneeze droplets can stay in the air for 10 minutes
  • Your body can make special cells (called antibodies) to help get rid of germs that are in your body
  • A high temperature can help kill a virus – hence why you often get a fever when your body detects a virus – it’s one of your body’s natural defences
  • Germs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes
Germs Make Me Sick book - all about germs for kids
A lovely wee book I have from my childhood all about germs

Germs get such a bad reputation – so lets make them a bit more fun! You could start this topic by asking your kids what they know about germs – and then ask if they know what they actually look like?

Kids are really intelligent but I doubt any of us (myself included!) have actually sat down and explored Covid-19 with them and what it means – in a scientific sense. Try looking at germs scientifically – how virus’s are pretty talented. And then let your kids ask questions and research virsus’s for themselves (the videos below are fabulous for kids to better understand them).

Let your children be the creators of the following experiments and take ownership of them. Science is fascinating and fun – and hopefully doing these tasks will remind you of that!

As I said above – if you don’t know the answer then Google it! You are (and always have been) your kids’ main teacher – and it’s a great way to teach your kids how to safely find information. The following activities are simply ways to give you more confidence in different activity ideas but please do invent your own too!

Activity 1

Exploring Germs

Lets take a closer look at germs and their shapes and sizes.

You will need:

  • Paper
  • Pens/pencils
  • Scissors
  • Playdoh
  • Lego
  • Outdoor materials
Learning about germs using playdoh

Instructions

Begin by building on your children’s knowledge of germs by researching/showing/drawing different germs (they come in all shapes and sizes – click this image for some more inspiration!).

Drawing viruses with kids
Click here for some more inspiration

Once you’ve had a go at drawing different germs, why not try making their shapes out of twigs/leaves/stones/sand, or building them out of lego or playdough (see a great playdough recipe here).

Making viruses and bacteria with playdoh
A range of bacteria and viruses

Finally, why not design a Good Germ – perhaps one that temporarily gives its host super-powers?!

Drawing and designing new viruses in home STEM lessons
This particular virus (named The Polka-virus) gives its host polkadots

Activity 2

Germ Jigsaws

So how do our bodies fight germs? Are we truly magic?

Here we’re going to explore antibodies and how they work. Discuss that your body can make special antibodies that bind with germs (like a jigsaw) to stop them attacking the rest of the body. The germ has now been captured and the body gets rid of it. Magic!

You will need:

  • Paper
  • Pens/pencils
  • Scissors

I began by drawing antibodies and asked my kids to draw the germ that that antibody would bind with. We then switched roles and took turns to draw the antibody/germs.

Next we cut out our antibodies and germs and made Germ Jigsaws – this was actually the favourite task out of all activities!

Of course if your kids show interest in this then by all means take this learning further – and let me know what games you & your kids come up with!

Activity 3

Spreading Germs

In this colourful activity you’ll witness just how quickly and easily germs can spread.

You will need:

  • Paint/glitter
Colourful paint

Instructions

Start by putting a small amount of paint on one person’s hand (as many people as you like can participate in this activity).

Next, shake hands with somebody else and see how easily ‘germs’ are transferred.

We then extended the activity by rubbing our hands together to show the extent of the germs – but let your kids take the learning in any direction they want (for example they might want to make handprints, practise washing their hands well to get all the germs off, or try with a different colour of paint/glitter).

Activity 4

Pepper Germs

You’ll probably have seen this video go viral recently – and for good reason – it is a great visual for children to actively see the magic of soap.

You will need:

  • Pepper
  • Water
  • White plate/bowl
  • Handsoap

Instructions

Simply pour the water onto the bowl/plate and sprinkle some pepper on top (let the kids help you get the resources and do the pouring and sprinkling – it’s great for their fine-motor-skills and gross-motor-skills as well as getting them more involved).

Add a little drop of handsoap to their finger and watch what happens when they dip it into the pepper-water.

Magic! Use this as a conversation starter about why soap is so good at getting rid of lots and lots of little germs.

Activity 5

Coughing & Sneezing

This is an activity to explore the effectiveness of covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing. You could show your kids the resources and tell them what you want to explore and then allow them to design the experiment.

You will need:

  • Spray bottle
  • Food dye (optional)
  • Paper (the bigger the better)
  • Pencil/pen
  • Scissors

Instructions

The way we explored coughing and sneezing was to fill the spray bottles with coloured water and then held the bottle to our face (as if coughing) and skooshed the bottle to see the extent of the spray. We then traced our hands and cut them out (ofcourse you could just use your own hand for the next part but it is fun to try tracing your own hand and any excuse for scissor practise is great!).

We held our hand template in front of our spray bottle and repeated the experiment and discussed the differences in results.

Family STEM Learning

Family STEM challenge ideas released every week
You can do this challenge any day – but I’ll remind you on social media on Fridays

In case all the above learning wasn’t enough, I wanted to create a specific family based challenge every week – in the hopes of lightening the mood with all the members of the family who can get involved.

This week we’re going to do handwashing races! Simply cover your hand entirely in a thin smearing of paint, wait for it to dry for a few moments, then close your eyes tight shut (or blindfold those that are tempted to cheat!) and wash your hands as best as you can. The winner is the person who does the best washing job in the shortest time.

I really hope you enjoy doing all or some of these activities! Let me know what you think and don’t forget to post pictures of your learning to the Facebook page!

Happy learning!

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