Preventing the Summer Slide with DIY Tech and Science Projects

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Continuing our summer slide series, in which we've offered ideas on how to keep learners' math and literacy skills sharpened, we now turn our focus to science and tech-related ideas. The summer months provide a great opportunity for students to work on projects that help extend some of the ideas they might have learned during the school year or to pursue ideas that they might not have had a chance to do in the classroom.

Here is just a short list of projects that could help prevent the summer slide in science and technology.


Citizen science takes scientific inquiry and research out of the lab (and out of the sole purview of scientists and researchers) and puts it in the hand of those without formal scientific training -- "citizens," volunteers, and, yes, students. There are a number of ways that students can engage in citizen science projects over the summer, whether they're spotting animals or identifying plants. Here are a few suggested apps and websites.



Despite the explosion of the number of tech jobs, very few students actually have an opportunity to learn programming at the K-12 level. Programming remains a project that many students do outside the classroom, hacking on their home computers. There are a number of tools that can help even very young children learn how to program, including Scratch and Kodu. Here are a list of a few programming languages that make a good place for budding computer scientist to start.


Summer vacation is only two or three months long, so the suggestion to build a robot might seem ambitious. But in addition to the new tools that make it easier for kids to learn how to build software, you can find tools that make it easier for them to learn how to build hardware -- things like LEGO Mindstorms and Arduino. But even without any programming or electrical engineering skills, building a robot can be as easy as following step-by-side instructions from Instructables or assembling do-it-yourself kits like these Blinky Bugs.

What summer science and tech projects are on your To Do list?