10 Exciting Back to School Science Activities

back to school science activities

As the new school year kicks off, setting the stage for a collaborative and engaging learning environment is essential. Team-building activities are a fantastic way to break the ice, build rapport among students, and spark an interest in science. Here are ten fun and exciting back to school science activities that can be completed on the first day of school, perfect for both high school and middle school students.

1. Paper Airplane Competition

This is super fun, inexpensive, and kids love it! Students will work in teams to design and construct paper airplanes. Each team will aim to create a plane that flies the farthest or stays aloft the longest using just paper and a measuring tape. After testing their initial designs, students can modify and improve their planes based on their observations. This activity not only introduces fundamental concepts of aerodynamics but also emphasizes the importance of iterative design. Get all the details, as well as airplane templates, here. This is one of my all time favorite back to school science activities!

back to school science activities

2. Two Truths and a lie

Two Truths and a Lie is a fun and engaging icebreaker activity that helps students learn interesting facts about each other while fostering communication and critical thinking. Each team member writes down two true statements and one false statement about themselves. They then take turns sharing their three statements with the group, who must guess which one is the lie. This activity encourages players to be observant and thoughtful, as they must discern subtle cues and details to identify the false statement. It’s a great way to build rapport, enhance listening skills, and promote a lighthearted, collaborative atmosphere in your classroom.

3. FiT Your Body Through An index card

Challenge teams of students to cut a hole in an index card big enough to squeeze their entire body through the hole. All students need is an index card, scissors, and a hefty dose of critical thinking and creativity. By carefully cutting the index card in a pattern, students can redistribute the entire surface area across the length of the ring, all while keeping the surface area connected.  The closer together they make their cuts, the longer the ring will be. Learn more about this activity from Steve Spangler here! This is another favorite one of my back to school science activities!


back to school science activities

In these science-themed About Me templates, students fill in information about themselves on illustrations of scientific equipment. These are fantastic back to school science activities. This activity not only helps students introduce themselves in a creative and engaging way, but also it fosters a sense of community as classmates learn about each other’s interests and goals, making it an excellent icebreaker that promotes both creativity and a love for science. Grab your 4 FREE About Me activities here!

5. Saving Sam THE GUMMY WORM Activity

Saving Sam is a team-building science activity where students work together to rescue a gummy worm named Sam, who is stranded on top of an overturned plastic cup (his boat), with his life preserver (a life saver) underneath. Using only four paper clips as tools, teams must maneuver Sam into his life preserver without directly touching him, the life preserver, or the boat with their hands. This engaging challenge encourages problem-solving, teamwork, and communication while introducing basic engineering and physics concepts in a fun and memorable way. Get a copy of the Saving Sam lab activity here.

6. Getting To Know You Bingo

back to school science activities

The Getting to Know You bingo game is an engaging and interactive activity designed for students to learn more about their classmates in a fun and relaxed manner. Each square on the bingo card contains a different prompt, such as “can name all 8 planets” or “plays a sport,” encouraging students to ask questions and discover interesting facts about each other. As they find classmates who match the prompts, they mark off the squares, aiming to complete a row, column, or diagonal to achieve bingo. This game not only helps students break the ice and build connections but also fosters a sense of community and inclusivity in the classroom. Get a free copy of my bingo game here!

7. Team Puzzle Race

The Puzzle Race is an engaging team-building activity where students work in small groups to complete a puzzle as quickly as possible. Each team is given an identical puzzle and must collaborate, communicate, and strategize to finish first. This competitive challenge enhances teamwork, problem-solving, and time management skills while promoting clear and effective communication among team members. The first team to successfully complete their puzzle wins, making the activity both fun and educational. I strongly recommend 50-100 piece puzzles themed to your subject. You can find some of my favorite puzzles for this activity here or at most dollar stores.

8. Cup Stacking Challenge

The Cup Stacking Challenge”is an engaging team-building activity where participants work in small groups to stack plastic cups into a pyramid using only a rubber band attached to four strings, without touching the cups with their hands. This activity promotes collaboration, problem-solving, and communication skills as team members must coordinate their movements and strategize to complete the task. Variations can include timed races or more complex structures to increase difficulty. The challenge is an effective way to enhance teamwork, coordination, and critical thinking in a fun and interactive setting. Read more about this team-building challenge here.

9. Charades

Charades can be an excellent ice breaker for back-to-school in a science classroom, as it promotes creativity, communication, and teamwork among students. Playing charades in small groups helps students get to know each other and feel more comfortable in a new environment. To play charades, divide the class into small groups and provide each group with slips of paper containing science-related terms or funny terms. One student from each group picks a slip and acts out the term without speaking, while their teammates try to guess the word within a set time limit. This activity not only breaks the ice but also reinforces scientific vocabulary and concepts in a fun and engaging way. Here is a great charades card generator to get you going.

10. Paper Tower Challenge

The Paper Tower Challenge is one of those classic back to school science activities, where small teams of students compete to build the tallest freestanding tower using only ten sheets of copy paper. Teams must use creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration to design and construct their towers within a set time limit, without using any additional materials such as tape or glue. This challenge fosters teamwork, engineering skills, and strategic thinking as students work together to achieve the goal. The team with the tallest and most stable tower at the end of the time wins the challenge, making it a fun and educational exercise for all participants.

Some of my favorite beginning of the year Science Activities

Below are some of my no-fail must haves for the beginning of the school year! Check them out and see more great activities for your classroom in my shop or on TPT.

I hope your students enjoy these back to school science activities!

Wishing you a wonderful start to the new school year! I hope you find joy and inspiration in the engaging back to school science activities we’ve shared. These activities are designed to foster teamwork, curiosity, and a love for learning, setting a positive tone for the year ahead. May your classroom be filled with enthusiasm, discovery, and the thrill of scientific exploration. Have a fantastic year filled with memorable moments and successful teaching! Happy Sciencing friends!