5-Minute Film Festival: Fun Summer DIY Projects
Engage budding scientists and artists with this video playlist of investigative experiments, from Rion Nakaya of The Kid Should See This.
I love finding educational videos that make my kids want to stop watching videos. Thirty seconds in, they might ask if we have the right equipment to do the project. They might shout “whoa!” with surprise at the reveal. By the end of the video, they’re swept up in the enthusiasm of trying something new. What questions do we have about the activity? What possibilities do we expect? Is it related to anything we’ve done before? What variations do we want to try?
DIY projects and science experiment videos are an excellent tool for getting kids (and adults) excited about getting up from the screen and diving into something hands-on. Pair that motivation with the longer summer days, and kids will hopefully have plenty of creative time to explore the project playlist below. Share the videos with students and their parents before they break for the summer, and/or save a few to incorporate into next year’s curriculum!
Video Playlist: DIY Projects & Experiments for Students
Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.
More Resources for Summer DIY Projects & Experiments
- Stacked Ball Drop (3:34)
How is a supernova similar to a basketball, a bouncy ball, and a golf ball all stacked together? "Physics Girl" Dianna Cowern brings the "phys ed" to physics with this surprising potential energy experiment that’s perfect for the playground. I love that this one takes some practice to get right.
- Solar Tyre Oven - How to Make a Cheap Solar Cooker (4:09)
Make a stew, roast chicken and potatoes, bake oatmeal cookies, or melt s’mores in this DIY solar cooker. The project makes for an excellent camping skill, teaches kids about physics and sustainability, and can be a conversation-starter about how people with fewer resources rely on low-cost alternatives.
- How To Draw Your Hand In 3D (1:30)
Grab some paper, a pencil, and something to color with! This optical trick takes less than two minutes to learn; yet it provides hours of drawing fun and experimentation.
- Balancing Sculptures - Science With Children (5:22)
Make a toy, snack on carrot sticks and gummies, and learn about how the center of mass works. From The Royal Institution’s brilliant series of science experiment videos, this balancing sculpture is one of our favorite DIY projects because kids learn from hands-on trial and error, and no two sculptures are alike.
- How to Make Pickles (0:42)
Homemade pickles are super easy to make, and are fun to flavor in delicious ways. With some fresh cucumbers, kids can experiment with different ingredients, practice patience as they pickle, and feel that “I made this” accomplishment from every crispy bite enjoyed by friends and family.
- How To Find Water Bears - Science Experiment (4:33)
For those who have a microscope at home, this scavenger hunt makes for a wonderful expedition to your local damp habitats – a forest, the beach, near a pond, in a shady sidewalk crack, or maybe in your back yard. PBS Digital Studios’ Coma Niddy shows us how to find microscopic aquatic animals known as water bears or tardigrades.
- Carrot Clarinet (5:28)
Australian musician Linsey Pollak uses DIY vegetable instruments to make playing music more accessible and fun. With a thick carrot, a saxophone mouthpiece and joiner, an electric drill, a peeler, and a funnel, he shows how to make a carrot clarinet in under five minutes.
- Electric Play Dough and Circuits for Kids (3:49)
Though we’re surrounded by the benefits of electricity, kids don’t often get many hands-on opportunities to understand how electricity works. With this homemade conductive and insulating play dough experiment from PBS Parents’ Adventures in Learning, kids can safely experiment with making LEDs light up!
- Why Can't We Walk Straight? (3:34)
One of my favorite video experiments explores a mystery of the human brain and requires just a few simple things: an open space, a blindfold, and someone you trust. If you can’t see where you’re going, can you walk straight? Try it!
More Resources for Summer DIY Projects & Experiments
In the last few years, a wide variety of YouTube channels and Maker organizations have dedicated themselves to educating kids (and adults) in STEAM -- science, technology, engineering, art, and math -- subjects. The links below include more of my favorite science, craft, and DIY how-to’s that can inspire kids of all ages all summer long.
- Steve Spangler's Sick Science: 2-minute science experiment videos
- Mahir Cecen's A World of Paper: Paper airplane tutorial videos
- Toys from Trash: DIY toy videos by Indian toy inventor and TED speaker Arvind Gupta
- DIY.org: A thriving online community where kid-makers can share and discuss their projects
- ScienceToyMaker.org: A teacher's collection of DIY science project ideas, including his popular Walkalong Gliders
- The Naked Scientists: Science activities (and more) from a team at Cambridge University
- PaperRollerCoasters.com: A template and kit shop for folding, cutting, and taping together incredible paper rollers for class or for home
- Instructables: Like a DIY.org for adults, featuring over 100k step-by-step instructions for user-created projects
- MakeZine Projects: A deeper dive into DIY art, craft, and tech projects, plus: Find a Maker Faire Near You