Star Wars STEM Activities for May the 4th Be With You Science
May the 4th be with you! Tie simple science explorations in with Star Wars for Star Wars Day. Great STEM ideas for the classroom or for family science with kids at home. Connect favorite characters, epic movie scenes, Star Wars lore, and more with hands-on learning!
May the 4th Be with You (AKA Star Wars Day)
May 4th is a day of epic proportions for Star Wars fans. Echoing the popular movie line, the day is celebrated as May the 4th Be with You Day... (you know, the "force"). It's also known as Star Wars Day.
In the name of intergalactic, pop culture fun, we have a list of easy STEM connections you can make to turn everyday science learning into Star Wars-infused fun.
21 Science Activities with a Star Wars Spin
Make an LED Lightsaber with a Straw: Set the stage for Star Wars STEM by making mini lightsabers! You'll need a large straw, a 10mm LED, a CR-1220 battery, and some electrical tape. When finished, just push the straw handle to activate and let the force shine through.
Build a Paper Airplane Launcher: TIE fighters... X-wing... A-Wing.... Y-Wing.... Naboo N-1.... no matter what type of starfighter you like most, this airplane launcher activity is an STEM easy tie-in. Kids can experiment with making launchers from a range of craft materials and decorate them for Star Wars-themed play! They'll need airplanes, too, of course, and finding the best design for paper airplanes is a great way to explore aerodynamics and forces like drag. See the Paper Airplane Folds activity to turn airplane folding into a STEM adventure. Combine these STEM activities with craft materials to customize the planes and launchers for Star Wars-inspired, warp-speed STEM fun.
Make a Paper Circuit: With copper tape, LEDs, and a coin cell battery, kids can learn about circuits and make light-up lightsaber cards or light-up art! (What color LEDs will you use?)
Popsicle Stick Drones: Assembling a starfleet worthy of the Galactic Empire or the Rebel Alliance at home can be a lot of fun, and mini popsicle stick drones are a great way to give your minifigs a platform on which to rise or battle! (Note: start with the first activity in this series to build the drone and then continue with the progressive series to explore altitude control, steering, and more.)
Colorful Patterns in Melting Ice: Remember when Luke was frozen to the ceiling upside down in a wampa cave on the ice planet Hoth? Explore the structure of ice — and ice melting — in this colorful activity.
Junkbots: Robots from Recycled Materials: Lots of robots in Star Wars are "junk droids," robots made from salvaged and assorted parts. With a few simple electronic parts (e.g., a motor and AA batteries), kids can build their own junkbots using parts from the recycling or craft supplies bin. Kids might make a robot inspired by R2-D2, or come up with their own custom droid design. (See the brushbot activity for another robot-building activity to get inspired by ways a robot can move.)
(Lesson plans for educators: Building Junkbots—Robots from Recycled Materials and Vibrobots— Tiny Robots from Scratch. For other lessons and activities to explore robotics and robotics engineering with students, see the Teach About Robotics with Free STEM Lessons & Activities collection.)
How Does a Hovercraft Hover?: Landspeeders and hovercraft appear in many places in Star Wars. In this activity, kids make a simple hover-inspired vehicle using a balloon and CD. These air-powered vehicles are great for backyard fun!
Build a Gumdrop Geodesic Dome: The desert planet of Tatooine where Luke Skywalker grows up is spotted with dome-shaped structures. (Tip: when this family built domes at home, they gave the activity a geometry focus!)
How to Make Slime: Jabba the Hutt brings icky slime to mind. Slime is simple to make, but it's a great chance for kids to experiment and develop their own secret formula to mix up slime with specific characteristics. What will their Jabba the Hutt-inspired slime be like? When this family experimented with slime at home, they made magnetic and "fluffy" slime, too! (Educators: NGSS-aligned lesson plan available.)
Circus-Trick Science: How to Balance Anything and Balance the Forces Within a Mobile: Bringing balance to the Force is a big part of the Star Wars storyline. These activities are about using physics to make things balance (literally). You could also use light and dark objects on each side of your balancing activities to see if you can use STEM to bring things into perfect, balanced harmony! Get inspired! This kid made a great mobile (as tall as the door!) featuring mythical and fantastical creatures. Kids could use this STEM activity to make their own very cool Star Wars mobile! (Learning about physics they will be, too. Hint: Say it like Yoda.)
Oobleck: A Recipe for a Mesmerizing Mixture: There are numerous quicksand (or mucksand) pits in the Star Wars saga. Exploring the non-Newtonian characteristics of Oobleck is a great opportunity for tactile fun with colloids.
Fingers in a bowl with oobleck ingredients and swirling orange and blue coloring
12. Moisture Farms
How to Harvest Water from Fog: Moisture farms on Tatooine use "vaporators" to harvest moisture from the air. Kids can explore similar concepts with a homemade fog catcher.
13. Droid Hand
Build a Robot Hand: Luke ends up with a cybernetic hand in the movie arc, but fixing robots and droids is also a recurring theme in Star Wars. In this activity, experiment with making and using a simple robot hand from recycled materials and thread. Get inspired! Can you make a robot hand like this student did that can pick up small objects?
14. Garbage Pit
Candy Waterfalls: Can Candy Flow Like Water?: Garbage pits and compactors involve piles and piles of trash and recycling that are sometimes sorted along the way. In this activity, kids explore what circumstances make it possible for a material to flow like water. For a related engineering design challenge on sorting materials, see the Marble Machine project. For an engineering lesson plan about using magnets to create a sorting machine, see Build a Recycling-Sorting Machine.
15. A Wind Fleet
Build a Rubber Band-Powered Car and Build a Wind-Powered Car: There are many kinds of vehicles in the Star Wars saga. Designing vehicles for different terrain and using various means of alternative power is good practice for thinking about engineering and vehicle design to meet the needs of specific locations.
16. Impact Craters
Creating Craters: With so many planets to explore, a crater-making activity is always a good fit. Namenthe's Crater on Jakku wasn't formed naturally, but with this activity, kids can learn how impact craters are created when meteorites crash into a planet or moon and experiment with making big and small craters. This activity can be messy, but it's a great opportunity for a cool, slow-motion video!
The Bouba-Kiki Effect:There are many races and languages in the Star Wars series. This activity is a simple way to explore how people make associations between sounds and shapes — and to think about communication.
18. Bubble Tea
Gelatin Pearls and Make Boba for Bubble Tea: We aren't sure, but you might be able to order boba tea at the Mos Eisley Cantina on the planet Tatooine, even if your name isn't Boba Fett! Both of these activities help you make a version of this popular drink at home!
Ion Thruster: Build an Ion Wind Rotor: Ion engines (or ion drives) are used by starships to travel at sublight speeds. If you have a Van de Graaff generator available, students can build a model of an ion thruster. The videos below offer two approaches to making and experimenting with an ion wind rotor. One uses a piece of aluminum foil mounted on a nail; the other uses a piece of copper pipe and nails that act as electrodes.
Mars Rover Obstacle Course: Han Solo beat the odds when navigating the Millennium Falcon through the Hoth asteroid field. He was at the controls, but you can simulate the challenge by giving someone else directions and seeing if you can guide them through a tricky maze.
Robot, Make Me a Sandwich!: Which robots are your favorites in Star Wars? Most of the droids operate based on their programming. In this activity, students practice thinking through and giving step-by-step directions for performing a task. (See the Artificial Intelligence area for additional projects, lessons, and activities to explore AI and machine learning.
Making Science Fun
There are all kinds of holidays celebrated throughout the year, including pop culture-inspired days like Star Wars Day and Mario Day. With a little bit of planning and creative thinking, special days on the calendar can often be connected to science inquiry for unexpected classroom or family fun.
Bookmark the STEM Calendar to make connections in science class all year long!
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