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February 11, 2015 Super Simple Valentine's Day STEM for Your Sweethearts By Lindsey Petlak
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    Whether you’re not allowed to throw Valentine’s Day “parties,” you are throwing a party and need some quick ideas, or you want to weave some sweetheart STEM into your instruction this week, I have easy-to-do, engaging activities that are sure to please even Cupid himself!

    The key to each of these suggested activities is that they are super simple and most likely can be created with materials you already have in your home or classroom, or can be purchased at any discount or dollar store. Also, these activities are super flexible. You’ll see in the examples below that most of the activities have alternative ingredients or process steps. This is your FREE PASS because basically, you can’t mess these up, and you and your students will love every minute!




    Spread the love this Valentine’s Day by sharing in the celebration by creating winter bird feeders for the birds outside! The process is easy, and materials that you need can most likely be found in your pantry and garage (or found at any store).


    • Cutting board, plate, cookie sheet (one or all)

    • Rice cakes or bread slices

    • Light corn syrup or peanut butter (DO NOT use peanut butter if you have a student nut allergy)

    • Birdseed

    • Heart-shaped cookie cutters (metal is recommended) or cookie molds

    • Skewers, straws, or candy/cake pop sticks

    • Ribbon

    • Sticks/twigs



    • Lay your rice cake or bread on a flat surface (cutting board suggested).

    • Find a cookie cutter that fits the width of the rice cake and press down gently to cut into the shape of a heart.

    • Optional Step: If you wish to hang the heart with a ribbon, poke a skewer/straw/stick through the heart and leave there to create a hole. If you wish to later add a stick/twig for a perch, place another skewer/straw/stick through the middle of the heart-cut rice cake. If not, proceed with next step.

    • Cover the top surface with either peanut butter or corn syrup.

    • Then, pat birdseed onto the coated surface.

    • Flip over and repeat.

    • If you plan to hand and/or add a twig perch, thread your ribbon/string through the hole intended for hanging, and poke a twig through the center hole and add more corn syrup to act as “adhesive.” Leave the twig in the corn syrup until it firms up and solidifies.


    NOTES: If your rice cake (or bread) breaks/tears during the process, it’s no big deal! Use additional peanut butter or corn syrup to “glue” the pieces back together and then cover with more seed.

    Another way to make this bird feeder is to use heart-shaped metal cookie cutters on top of a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Fill the cutters half full with seed, then pour corn syrup over the seed to cover, but not “flood.” Let sit until dry and solid. If you want to hang the heart, place a skewer/straw/stick in the seed while you pour the syrup over the mold. If you plan to lay the hearts on the ground, don’t worry about it.




    Watch students “overflow” with excitement as they engage in an experiment examining solids, liquids, gases, and chemical reactions with this quick, simple activities using household materials.


    • Cookie sheet, plate, or other item to place your containers on

    • Small, shallow containers (Shown: heart-shaped treat boxes; but could use heart-shaped cookie cutters, muffin tins, cookie molds, or ANY other containers)

    • Baking soda

    • Vinegar (white is preferred, but I only had apple cider vinegar and it worked just fine!)

    • Red food coloring (or red juice like I used!)

    • Eye dropper (or medicine syringe like I used!)

    • Glitter (optional)



    • Place individual containers on a plate or shallow bowl. If you are using multiple containers, you may want to place them on a cookie sheet or inside a casserole dish.

    • Spoon or pour small amounts of baking soda into the bottom of your container of choice.

    • Pour enough to cover the bottom of your container.

    • Layer small amounts of red/pink glitter on top of the baking soda.

    • Mix red food coloring (or red juice if you don’t have food coloring on-hand) with vinegar.

    • Suck up vinegar mixture into eye dropper or medicine syringe and release onto the baking soda/glitter mixture.

    • Continue to add vinegar mixture until your hearts are “bleeding” to the point of overflowing from their containers.

    • Make notes, written observations, and draw conclusions.




    Experiment with and observe buoyancy and states of matter by seeing how different types of Valentine’s Day candy react with carbonated liquids! This love potion will leave student heads spinning and hearts pounding!


    • Alka-Seltzer original and water, clear soda (i.e. Sprite), or club soda (plain)

    • Clear cups

    • Valentine’s Day candy (Conversation Hearts, heart-shaped Red Hots, sprinkles, etc.)



    • Set out one clear cup.

    • Drop candy pieces into the cup (one type of candy per each cup.)

    • If you are using Alka Seltzer and water, fill the cup with water and drop in a tablet. If you are using soda of some sort, fill the cup with the soda.

    • Watch to see if/when candy pieces float, bounce, and dance inside of the cup.

    • You may need to add more carbonated liquid to see if that changes activity inside of the cup.

    • Make notes, written observations, and draw conclusions.


    NOTES: Keep extra Alka-Seltzer tablets and/or soda on-hand to add if candies do not bounce/float. If using Alka-Seltzer, use minimal water at first and add water as necessary.




    Candy is a fabulous ingredient for science experiments, and we all know Valentine’s Day has candy-a-plenty. Try some of these instant options for Valentine’s Day candy light refraction and solubility experiments that are crowd-pleasers, but simple to set-up and execute.


    • Assorted Valentine’s Day candy (Suggested: clear red heart suckers, Conversation Hearts, heart-shaped Red Hots)

    • Clear cups

    • Water

    • Flashlight (optional)

    • THAT’S IT!



    • Place a sucker in an EMPTY clear cup.

    • Draw how the sucker looks in the empty cup.

    • Place a sucker in a half-full clear glass of water.

    • Draw how the sucker looks in the water-filled cup.  

    • You may want to also try shining a flashlight through and around the candy in the water to test and document the changes (if any) in light refraction with addition of the flashlight. 

    • Make notes, written observations, and draw conclusions.


    • Set out one cup for each type of candy you’re using.

    • Fill each cup ½ to ¾ full with water.

    • Place one type of candy in each cup.

    • Check on the status of each cup/candy each 30-60 minutes.

    • Make notes, written observations, and draw conclusions.



    These crazy little candies are as great for science experiments as they are for eating! You can use the Pop Rocks and soda as substitutes for baking soda and vinegar in the experiment listed above, or try something totally new using the directions below, courtesy of Steve Spangler Science!!


    • Pop Rocks (try to find multiple flavors; Valentine’s Day versions are available)

    • Balloons (I’m going to use HEART-SHAPED balloons for Valentine’s Day flair!)

    • Funnel 

    • 2 16 oz. bottles of soda (the greater soda variety, the better)


    For a full demonstration of this amazing experiment in chemical reactions from Steve Spangler Science, click the image below to watch an informational video. 




    Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Cupid. I’ve never tried this activity before, but I’m really pumped about adding it to my engaging explorations this year! After searching and scouring, I’m SMITTEN over these three options for students to choose from as they try to engineer their own Cupid’s bows! Scan the QR codes below to access instructions from the original sources.

    If you are unable to scan the QR codes above, use the numbers on each image to correlate with the sources and online directions below:

    1) wikiHow instructions

    2) She Knows instructions

    3) All For The Boys instructions




    My fellow Top Teaching Blogger, Genia Connell, “hit it out of the park” with her Valentine’s Day STEM activity post with everything you need for students to engineer candy catapults. Check out her blog post, free downloadable PowerPoint presentation, and step-by-step photo tutorial by clicking on the image below! 




    It would “break my heart” if your students rolled up their sleeves, got their hands dirty, and forgot to document their engagement and observations from these sweetheart STEM challenges! The great news is, it’s as easy to record observations and document learning from these activities, as it is to set them up!

    Options for documentation include:

    • Notes on regular notebook paper
    • Sketches and notes in science journal
    • Video recording of experiments
    • Educational screencast apps (such as Educreations)
    • Photos/voice recordings

    I can’t wait to see how much my Cupid Kiddos love these sweetheart STEM Valentine’s Day challenges! Let me know how these go in your own classrooms, and if you make any clever changes, substitutions, omissions, or discoveries as you try them!

    Thanks for reading, and have a great day!


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