It’s that time of year again – the days are getting shorter and all thoughts are turning to pumpkin-carving, trick-or-treating and seeing who can come up with the best costume ideas.
As excitement rises and Halloween creeps ever closer, we’ve put together a selection of fang-tastic activities that are sure to put the spook factor into your lessons or STEM Club.
Freaky hand: a science experiment your pupils will glove
Learn all about irreversible reactions as a freaky hand takes on a life of its own!
All of the equipment and ingredients used in this activity can be bought from your local supermarket, making it the perfect, low-cost way to engage your pupils.
- Pour vinegar into a jar.
- Fill a plastic glove with bicarbonate of soda and fit it over the top of the jar. Note: some people react badly to latex, so consider using latex-free gloves.
- When the bicarbonate of soda is tipped into the vinegar, carbon dioxide is produced.
- As the gases move freely around the container, the glove will inflate.
Dress your class as witches or wizards and try out this great problem-solving activity, complete with bats, spiders, vampires and witches.
Challenge pupils to design a potion which will turn one unlucky individual (probably the teacher) into a toad. Each recipe needs 24 legs to complete the potion. Using a combination of bats, spiders and frogs, how many varieties can they make?
The answer could be 12 bats, or 8 bats and 2 frogs, or 2 spiders, 1 frog and 2 bats. Giving out pictures of these animals can support less-able pupils whilst the more-able pupils can be tasked with creating their own system to record various potion recipes.
Halloween cards that will give pupils ‘pumpkin’ to talk about
A greetings card company has a problem, and it’s up to your pupils to help! They want to create a new range of Halloween cards that use a mechanism to come to life but they don’t know where to begin.
Examine other cards with moving parts and give pupils time to investigate the mechanisms which make them work: levers and linkages. Show the pupils other examples of levers and linkages in the real-world and talk about how they make work easier.
Give pupils the opportunity to plan, make and evaluate their Halloween cards, complete with supernatural scenes and moving parts.
Click or treat
Monsters lurk in eerie mazes, waiting to catch unsuspecting victims. Create a track for Beebots on the floor of the classroom, complete with monsters that must be avoided. Pupils can write instructions for the Beebot’s route and then try it out, giving them a chance to make changes if needed.
Older pupils can use programming such as Logo or Scratch to draw their own spooky mazes. Pupils then program their character to escape the maze, avoiding the lurking monsters.
Slime is of the essence
Halloween just simply wouldn’t be complete without getting hands-on and making some slime of your own!
Try this CLEAPSS approved recipe:
- In a cup, put about a tablespoon of PVA glue and then add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda.
- Mix well using a spoon, lolly-pop stick or glue spreader.
- To create a coloured slime, add a few drops of food colouring. Green would make the perfect spooky slime.
- If you want a snotty slime, add two teaspoons of water. For a fluffier slime, add 1 or two squirts of shaving foam. Or two teaspoons of bubble bath will make a smooth, sweet-smelling slime.
- Next, add a couple of squirts of eyewash or contact lens solution which must contain boric acid/sodium borate. Mix vigorously.
- Add more eyewash or contact lens solution, a squirt at a time, until the mixture sticks together and becomes much trickier to stir. Don’t add too much eyewash or contact lens solution as the slime will snap and not ooze.
- Empty the slime into your hands and mix it some more, kneading it with your fingers.
- The texture should get increasingly slimy. However, if it’s sticking too much, add another squirt of eyewash or contact lens solution.
- Enjoy playing with the slime, but remember to wash your hands afterwards.
Even more spook-tacular STEM activities at your fingertips…
For even more spooky STEM activities and inspiration, check out issue 13 of our primary STEM Learning magazine.