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Rubber Band STEM (Awesome Summer Science Experiments)

Check in each week at Science Buddies this summer for our Awesome Summer Science Experiments series! Each week, we'll highlight a few activities for awesome science and engineering kids can do at home. We've got a whole summer of fun STEM themes lined up for kids of all ages — for free. This week: awesome summer science experiments with rubber bands!

Slingshot device launching a paper airplane for Rubber Band STEM - Week 1 of Awesome Summer Science Experiments with Science Buddies

Awesome Rubber Band STEM

Rubber bands are fun to stretch and even fun to fling across the room. How far can you send a rubber band flying? Can you use the stretchiness of a rubber band to send other things flying or create sound waves? Yes!

Kids can learn a lot about potential and kinetic energy from rubber bands. The activities in Week 1 of our Awesome Summer Science Experiments series feature an assortment of exciting maker-inspired builds and experiments, from launchers and a rubber band-powered car to noisemaking fun with a rubber band guitar or simple harmonica. Let's hear it for stretchy rubber band science!

Awesome Summer Science Experiments Week 1: Experiment | Watch | Ask | Explore | Read

EXPERIMENT: Rubber Band Science

Cotton Ball Launcher

With cardboard tubes, rubber bands, and pencils, kids can make fun cotton ball launchers and then experiment to see if they can master their launch skills. Customize it! Decorate your launcher in your own style. (Tip! If you don't have cotton balls handy, try loosely packed aluminum foil balls. You might even find that mini wiffle balls or ping pong balls will fit the tube, just make sure you test outside in an open area until you know how far the balls will fly.)

Rubber Band Guitar

With rubber bands, you can build a rubber band guitar or a harmonica. As kids make and play these DIY instruments, they'll be learning about the science of sound waves! (Customize it! When this family did the rubber band guitar activity, they added a neck to the guitar for true rocker vibe.)

Recycled Bottle Submarine

Make a submarine from a recycled soda bottle and experiment to see if the submarine works better with or without fins. What's the role of the rubber band? Wind up the propeller and let it go to find out! This hands-on STEM activity is fun for the bathtub or a small outdoor pool.

Paper Airplane Launcher

With a rubber band and a pencil, kids can send paper airplanes flying. After experimenting with the pencil, challenge kids to design a sturdier base for the launcher using building bricks, recycled materials, or other craft supplies. This is a fun engineering challenge for all ages! (Uplevel it! Build launchers in different styles or from different materials and see how they compare in terms of stability, ease-of-use, or effectiveness!)

Mini Popsicle Stick Catapult

Rubber bands are used to hold this cool catapult together, but they also give the catapult its energy! (Uplevel it! To turn this activity into a fun game, build your catapult and then set up a bunch of containers as targets. Give each container different point values and see how many points you can score!) Note: This activity works for small hands and younger kids as well as older kids! See this second-grader building her popsicle stick catapult.

Build a Rubber Band Car

Design and build a model car from craft materials and office supplies and use straws connected to rubber bands to create axles you can crank up for speedy power.

WATCH: Videos

Popsicle Stick Catapult
Video: Paper Airplane Launcher
Cotton Ball Launcher - Fun STEM Activity
Build a Submarine -STEM activity

ASK: Questions

Use these questions to prompt conversation and reflection about the science behind this week's Awesome Summer Science Experiments activities:

  • Does an unstretched rubber band have energy?
  • What type of energy are you creating when you stretch a rubber band?
  • What happens when you release a stretched rubber band in terms of its energy?


After trying this week's summer science experiments, kids can learn more about related science and engineering careers, like:

READ: Books

Pair picture and story books like these with this week's Awesome Summer Science Experiments explorations.

Papa's Mechanical Fish cover Girl with a mind for math cover What to Do with a Box cover
Toy and Game projects cover Most Magnificent Thing cover Ada Twist cover

Bookmark Awesome Summer Science Experiments Week 1: Rubber Band STEM

Rubber band stem activities, including rubber band guitar, rubber band car, paper airplane launcher, and popsicle stick catapult - part of Awesome Summer Science Experiments series

For more suggestions for science-themed summer reading, see our Summer Reading List. Also, don't miss this roundup of creative STEM activities for storytelling and imaginative play.

10 Weeks of Awesome Summer Science Experiments

Follow the full summer series on the Awesome Summer Science Experiments page!

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