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!
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!
EXPERIMENT: Rubber Band Science
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.)
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.
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!)
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.
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?
EXPLORE: STEM Careers
After trying this week’s summer science experiments, kids can learn more about related science and engineering careers, like:
Pair picture and story books like these with this week’s Awesome Summer Science Experiments explorations.
Bookmark Awesome Summer Science Experiments Week 1: Rubber Band STEM
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.