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Family-Friendly Science Activities for Winter Break

Check out these STEM activities for kids (and adults!) to keep your whole family engaged this winter break.

Science Near MeBy Anna FunkDec 19, 2022 7:27 PM
family in the snow - shutterstock 1873344160
(Credit: avtk/Shutterstock)

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The Science Near Me blog is a partnership between Discover magazine and ScienceNearMe.org.


Finally! Some uninterrupted time with your family! But with so many things competing for our attention, it’s easy to find ourselves at a loss for what an all-ages group might even enjoy doing together. 

Fear not! Science Near Me has been compiling ideas for you! Our searchable, customizable database is full of opportunities to engage in all kinds of science, whether you’re looking for something to do at home, out and about town, exploring the great outdoors or something else. Read on for some ideas to get you started and be sure to check out Science Near Me to find opportunities specific to your area. 

Activities to do at home

Picture this: The family is finally together under one roof, the decorations are hung, everyone is gathered round and … now what? Find activities to do at home by filtering your Science Near Me search by “On Demand” and “Indoors.” And be sure to check the box for “Kids Friendly Only” if younger children will be joining you!  

For instance, check out At-Home Activities from EiE. Each engineering- or computer-science-based activity starts with a story in a comic that sets the stage for the real-world problem you’ll be solving together. Then you’ll be guided through the design process to find a solution, which you’ll make using common household items like cardboard boxes and pencils.

Visit a science center

Sometimes the best cure for boredom is leaving the house. Luckily, there are family-friendly destinations all around the country – and world! – that can keep your family members engaged.

Take The Science Mill in Johnson City, Texas, for example. Their 50+ innovative and playful exhibits are sure to indulge any visitor’s curiosity. 

Or check out a show – like at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where Mysteries of Your Brain takes you on an immersive, animated adventure into the human brain, zooming along the path of neurons and exploring how the brain works and what makes human brains so special.

There are great science centers and museums all around the country — there’s probably one near you! To find opportunities near you, enter your city (“Near”) and a range (“Distance”) into the finder, and filter by “In-Person.” You can also search directly for a Science Center, Museum or Planetarium by typing into the Search bar.

If you’re looking for things to do as a family, why not get outside – and engage with science while you’re at it? (Credit: avtk/Shutterstock)

Get outside

If the great outdoors are more your family’s style — or you’d like it to be — there are plenty of opportunities to get outside and get moving, too. Find an arboretum or nature center near you and take the family for a hike. Some may even offer special programming to keep your family engaged. The Explorer’s Backpack program at the New Hanover County Arboretum in Wilmington, North Carolina involves elementary age children and their families in hands-on, discovery-oriented learning in the Native Plant Garden with a field journal filled with activities for the children to investigate.

Or you might join national efforts to monitor the effects of climate change by participating in the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum Phenology Walk. Help monitor 18 California native plants while touring the Arboretum’s beautiful Native Plant Garden in Santa Cruz.

For a self-guided option, try a family Bioblitz! Compete as teams or individuals to see who can find and identify the most species in a single day. Track your observations with apps like iNaturalist or, for a more kid-friendly option, Seek. Experts will help ID your sightings – and your observations will join tens of millions of others that researchers use to study biodiversity on our planet. 

Read a book

Of course, sometimes nothing beats snuggling up with a good book. So why not add a little science into your usual mix? Like Sarah the Cyber Hero, part of the new Cyber Education Literature Series from CyberPatriot, the National Youth Cyber Education Program. The series was created to excite the youngest of computer users about cybersecurity through related characters and fun stories. In Sarah the Cyber Hero, the young girl must save her town from a malware virus – and earn her superhero cape.


If your organization offers events, projects or programs that invite the public to engage in STEM, add it to Science Near Me!

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