Here is a list of hands-on project ideas by topic to do individually or as a team! If you are looking for project support, contact your local YES! coordinator!
- Make Your Own Solar Car- In this project you will need creativity and experimentation to design and build a car powered by two solar cells and a small electric motor.
- Be a role model for clean transportation- Show your family and friends how easy it is to choose environmentally-friendly transportation by taking a public bus or train, riding your bicycle, walking, or carpooling instead of driving alone.
- Investigate electric vehicles (EVs)- If your family is thinking about buying a car, steer them toward electric vehicles! To compare different EV models available in MN, click here. An interactive graphing app called com is helpful for comparing lifetime carbon emissions and cost for all types of vehicles.
- Identify your “carbon footprint” with this tool. Then decide with your family one specific action the household will take to reduce climate-changing carbon emissions.
- Teach kids about nature- Contact a local teacher and volunteer to present a nature topic to their students and lead them in a related activity. Here are some ideas.
- Educate through social media – Write a post about an experience you had in nature or an environmental issue you care about. Include an image that illustrates your point, like a photo you took or drawing you made.
- Go on a backyard safari to discover and observe animals living near you. These instructions will get you started.
Land Restoration & Habitat
- Construct a bee hotel- Here is a simple way to make a home for solitary bees by using only a log! Here is another great resource to learn why they are important and another type of home to construct.
- Build a wood duck house- Wood ducks rely on hollow trees, old woodpecker holes, or nest boxes for nesting so we can help the species by putting houses up near wooded swamps or marshes. Here are instructions to build your own!
- Create a pollinator garden- Native flowers attract pollinators such as butterflies and bees! Learn how to create a garden here! For more information about Minnesota specific butterfly gardens look here!
- Build birdhouses for native birds- Go to NestWatch and select the area you live and the habitat type and it will tell you what species are in decline in that area and instructions on how to build a house for that particular bird!
- Make native seed balls- Here are instructions on how to create native seed balls that you can throw in a sunny area and watch grow!
- Collect seeds from native plants- Did you know that you can get free seeds? Find out more about seed collection here!
- Plant a tree- Trees are inexpensive and SO important, plant native trees in your area
- Raise Monarch Butterflies- Collect and raise monarch butterflies to ensure their survival from egg to adult! Find out how to do this here!
Local Foods & Gardening
- Grow herbs to cook with – Find out how to start your herb garden here! Find some of the easiest herbs to grow inside here!
- Build a raised garden- Find step-by-step instructions here!
- Plant fruit and nuts trees/shrubs- Find out what species are great to incorporate into your landscape here!
- Visit a local farm or ranch- Help out and learn about what it takes to get food to our table! Find a list of MN growers here!
- Forage for food – Did you know that in MN we have so many wild foods available at our fingertips? Find out what to forage by season, here is a great book from the University of MN Extension!
Regenerative Agriculture & Soil Health
- Coming soon!
Renewable Energy & Conservation
- Make a solar oven- Absorb the sun’s heat to cook tasty treats by building a simple solar oven with a pizza box, foil, plastic wrap, and other household supplies here!
- Do an energy audit of a room- Here is a great worksheet by Climate Generation. After you complete the audit, try to figure out how you can reduce energy consumption in that room!
- Build a compost bin- Instead of throwing your food waste away, compost it! Here is an inexpensive way to get started!
- Make a vermicomposting bin and worms will recycle your food scraps indoors year-round! Learn how here.
- Make recycled art- Create a piece of art by using only things that would’ve been thrown away!
- Up-cycle used materials – Transform old t-shirts into bags or coasters, make planters out of novel containers, build a kite out of newspaper, make a jump rope from plastic bags, and more with instructions found here.
Water Quality & Conservation
- Clean Up Storm Drains- Help keep our waterways clean by picking up trash, debris, leaves, and sediment that accumulates by storm drains because that is washed right into our rivers and lakes. Check out the Adopt-a-Drain program here!
- Storm Drain Stenciling- Raise awareness about keeping storm drains clean by painting storm drains that are visible to pedestrians, like they did here!
- Survey for macro-invertebrates- “Water bugs” are indicators of pollution because some are more sensitive than others so determining what species are in a water body can determine the health of that water, learn more here!
- Take and test a water sample- How clean is your lake or river? Testing for pH, nitrates, phosphates, dissolved oxygen and more will tell you the health of your water, here is a great water quality testing kit to use.
- Build a rain barrel- Conserve water by using collecting and using rain water for outdoor purposes such as watering plants. Here are directions to build your own rain barrel!
- Survey for aquatic invasive species- Collect plants and specimens from lakes and rivers to identify. Use this AIS Identification Guide to help you. [After examining them at the collection site, return plants, animals, and water to the water body, even invasive species. It is illegal in MN to transport surface water or possess AIS without permits from the DNR.]