December 5, 2015

Christmas - Winter STEM Challenge Events

5 Winter-Christmas STEM challenges to make the most of the holiday season. Includes modifications for grades 2-8.


'Tis the season for more holiday fun (with substance) with STEM challenges!



A brief description of each challenge is available below, and more information is available by clicking on each challenge title. Starting November 24, 2016, I will be creating weekly, individual blog posts that will include a video walk-through f
or each challenge described below.  As the posts go live, the challenge titles below will become linked to those new posts.

- Candy Cane Calamity 
- Reindeer Relay 
- Sleigh & Slope or Sled & Slope (Dec. 8)
- Snowman Stretch (Dec. 15)
- Frozen Fortress (Dec. 22)


Materials for all challenges were procured at the Dollar Tree except a large box of craft sticks (Michael’s) and two bags of marshmallows (Target).


Criteria & Constraints List from
Reindeer Relay
I recommend one challenge per day or week leading up to Christmas, 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 be treated as one-off activities as well.


Note: The prepared challenge lessons, which include teacher notes/guide, modifications to increase the difficulty for older students, data recording & analysis handouts, NGSS Standards, extension ideas and more, are available as a resource bundle and individually in my TpT store (individual challenges are linked to their titles below).


Christmas Challenge: Reindeer Relay


Premise: Each student will design and build reindeer antlers. Students are then grouped for a reindeer relay in which they use their antlers to transport and hand off Christmas decorations. If you prefer a winter (non-Christmas) version, substitute "reindeer food" for decorations.


To save time, have students build just one antler. During the relay race, they will share with their teammates so each person "running" will have two antlers to hold on their head. 

STEM Basics:


  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs. (This is where a few simple modifications can make a challenge appropriate for almost any grade level!)
  • Post-build, students test their designs and record and share results.
  • If desired, give time for related research and extension activities.
  • Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.



Winter Challenge: Frozen Fortress




Premise: In partners or groups, students will design and build a "snowball" fortress wall with two main criteria: greatest area (or height or length for younger students) and ability yo withstand a "snowball" attack.  





STEM Basics:


  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs. (This is where a few simple modifications can make a challenge appropriate for almost any grade level!)
  • Post-build, students test their designs and record and share results.
  • If desired, give time for related research and extension activities.
  • Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.




Christmas Challenge: Candy Cane Calamity


Premise: Individually or in partners, students design and build a way to safely "mail" two candy canes in one paper bag package without breakage. 

Note: If you prefer, cookies can be substituted for candy canes.



STEM Basics:


  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs. (This is where a few simple modifications can make a challenge appropriate for almost any grade level!)
  • Post-build, students test their designs and record and share results.
  • If desired, give time for related research and extension activities.
  • Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.



Christmas Challenge: Sleigh & Slope


Premise: In partners or groups, students will build a sleigh and slope (ramp) designed to transport the sleigh the greatest possible distance. To save time or modify for younger students, you can provide the slope and ask only that they build a sleigh.  





STEM Basics:


  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs. (This is where a few simple modifications can make a challenge appropriate for almost any grade level!)
  • Post-build, students test their designs and record and share results.
  • If desired, give time for related research and extension activities.
  • Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.




Winter Challenge: Snowman Stretch

Kathie from Tried & True Teaching Tools gave this challenge a try in her class and blogged about it here!


Premise: Individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build the tallest free-standing snowman possible. 

Option 2: Students design and build a snowman of greatest volume possible. 




STEM Basics:


  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs. (This is where a few simple modifications can make a challenge appropriate for almost any grade level!)
  • Post-build, students test their designs and record and share results.
  • If desired, give time for related research and extension activities.
  • Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.





Christmas-Winter 5-in-1 STEM Challenge Bundle





I'M LINKING UP THIS MONTH WITH SOME GREAT BLOGGERS. CHECK OUT THEIR WORK BELOW.




11 comments:

  1. What a great ways for children to learn science and math. Hands on activities really get them thinking. I'm sure your class loves doing these lessons..

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  2. Hands on FUN!!! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. This is excellent! Thank you for the ideas!

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  4. What wonderful ideas! Thank you for sharing.

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  5. I work at a STEM school and was trying to think of a STEM challenge for the season. Thanks for sharing. Very helpful!

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  6. I work at a STEM school and was trying to think of a STEM challenge for the season. Thanks for sharing. Very helpful!

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  7. Such fun ideas! Thanks for sharing them!

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  8. So much fun; am writing a few of these lessons in my plan book for our last week!! We'll need it! Thanks, Kerry!!

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  9. I LOVE ALL OF THESE! Too many to choose from :) I know my kiddos will love some holiday-related STEM challenges next week!

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  10. I love these STEM challenges! Students will definitely use their holiday spirit to dig deeper into math and science. Awesome ideas!

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  11. I would have loved to have been in your class! So much learning and so much fun...

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