October 10, 2015

Halloween STEM Challenge Events

5 Halloween STEM Challenges to delight and engage students - grades 2 - 8


I can freely admit it: I have become a STEM Design Challenge junkie.  I can be found at the Dollar Tree at odd hours trolling the aisles for inspiration.  And there is much budget-friendly inspiration to be found!

My most recent trip was specifically geared toward creating engaging and productive STEM challenges for the month of October. What resulted was a set of five Halloween-themed challenges, which I have dubbed: Halloween STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle.  Materials for all challenges were procured at the Dollar Tree except a large box of craft sticks, which was cheaper elsewhere.


Example of a Criteria/Constraints list
One of the best things about STEM challenges is how easy it is to increase or decrease difficulty by tweaking the criteria/constraints list, materials, and/or time given. I have used the same challenges with 1st grade up through 7th; while the premise is almost always the same, applying just a few minor modifications makes the challenge engaging and beneficial for any age group -- even adults!  


I'm excited to share an outline of my Halloween STEM Bundle below.  Just by viewing the information below, you can pick up the simple materials and run the challenges with a bit of prep time on your part.  

Alternatively, you can save yourself time and energy (and use it to head over to your dollar store!) by picking up the prepared challenge lessons (linked above), which include teacher notes/guide, modifications, student handouts, NGSS Standards, extensions and more.  

I recommend one challenge per day or week leading up to Halloween, or even all challenges in one day-long 5-event pentathlon!  STEM challenges are always most beneficial when done in multiple iterations, but they can always be treated as one-off activities as well.

Update 2016: Throughout the fall, I will be adding new posts for each individual challenge below. As each blog/video posts, the title of the challenge below will become clickable and will lead you to more information and a YouTube video with additional details, tips, and tricks. Tricks -- get it? See what I did there? :)













Premise: Essentially a paper airplane challenge, students cut, fold, and tape (tape optional) the handout to fashion new wings for the bat body.

STEM Challenge Basics:
   Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.  
   Post-build, students record and share results. 
   If desired, give time for related research/extension activities.
   Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.



   
Premise: In partners or groups, students design a device to catch as many “creatures” as they can over a given area.





STEM Challenge Basics:

•   Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.  
•   Post-build, students record and share results. 
•   If desired, give time for related research/extension activities.
•   Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.







Premise: In partners or groups, students build a bridge of "bones" (q-tips).





STEM Challenge Basics:

•   Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.  
•   Post-build, students record and share results. 
•   If desired, give time for related research/extension activities.
•   Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.



Premise: Students will build a low-energy machine to toss treats.  The teacher chooses from one of two challenge goals: launch candy the maximum distance or target-accuracy.











STEM Challenge Basics:

•   Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.  
•   Post-build, students record and share results. 
•   If desired, give time for related research/extension activities.
•   Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.



Challenge 5: Ghosts in the Graveyard




Premise:  Students work in partners or groups to create a ghost transporter that lifts “ghosts” (cotton balls or marshmallows) from the ground to the top of a simple pulley. 




STEM Challenge Basics:

•   Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.  
•   Post-build, students record and share results. 
•   If desired, give time for related research/extension activities.
•   Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.






For more details or to purchase the activity set with modifications, handouts, and more, click on the bundle.





Here are some other great ideas for October!



8 comments:

  1. Wow! this idea is awesome. What a great way to engage kids of all ages. Thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. Thanks so much! I hope others will love it as much as I do!

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  2. I really like all of the great activities that include STEM and so much more!

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  3. I LOVE this idea. My two favorite things STEM and Halloween in one packet. Thank you.

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    1. Two of my favorites as well! I think we'd get along nicely, you and I. :)

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  4. I’m including a link to this post in my newsletter as my “Teaching Corner” feature for this month- thanks for the awesome Halloween STEM ideas!!
    www.ofmiceandelves.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the soon-to-be shout-out! :)

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