January 30, 2016

Valentine's Day STEM Challenge Events



Valentine's Day is coming soon! Are you feeling the love for STEM challenges?  I know I am!  I've been hard at work on lovely new set of challenges that will hopefully put you in the mood to share the love! 

I have created five (or eight - depending on how you look at it) Valentine's Day STEM Challenge events :  
  1. Cupid’s Quiver
  2. Candy / Confection Container
  3. “Heavy” Hearts
  4. Cards in the Clouds
  5. Flower Frenzy*  
* Flower Frenzy is comprised of four flower mini challenges:
- Floating Flowers 
- Fluff & Flatten Flowers 
- Functional Flowers
- Firmly Fixed Flowers




Materials for all challenges were procured at the Dollar Tree except a large box of craft sticks (Michael’s) and candy (Target).
Criteria & Constraints List from
Cards in the Clouds Challenge

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 local dollar store!) by picking up 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.

I recommend one challenge per day or week leading up to Valentine's Day, 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.

A brief description of each challenge is available below, and more information is available by clicking on each challenge title.





Challenge: Cupid's Quiver

Basic Premise:
In groups, students will design and build a bow & arrow set for Cupid’s Valentine’s Day target practice.  (Designing the quiver is optional.)  Alternate Option: If you find bow & arrow too difficult, modify the challenge to make throwing darts instead.


Target



Students will aim for high scores as they take three shots each at a Valentine’s themed target. Final scores are taken as the sum or average of their personal and/or team results.

Stem Basics:

  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.
  • 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.






Basic Premise:
Working against a criteria/constraints list individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build the smallest container possible to house a candy assortment. 

"Confection Container" alternative: students design and build the smallest container possible to house one or more cupcakes (keeping frosting on the cupcakes, not the box!)



Stem Basics:
  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.
  • 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.















Challenge: "Heavy" Hearts


Basic Premise:
Individually or in partners/small groups, students will design the “heaviest” heart possible.

Using a criteria/constraints list, students create small hearts of various colors & sizes. Point values are assigned to each color group based on its size. Students arrange various configurations of their smaller hearts inside a large, outer heart in order to create the “heaviest” possible heart. 

“Heaviest” is in quotation marks because we are not measuring weight; rather, we are assigning point values to inner hearts.

This challenge can be run simply (focusing on shape creation & manipulation, measurement, addition, and symmetry), or you can add complexity (focusing on length/width ratios, multiplying & dividing decimals, percent contribution, etc.). 



Stem Basics:
  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.
  • 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.





Basic Premise:    In partners/groups, students design and build the tallest “tower of love” possible using Valentine’s Day cards they were probably just going to throw away anyway! (Note: for older students or those who don’t exchange cards, use index cards or alternative love-notes handout from product.)






Stem Basics:
  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.
  • 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.



Challenge: Flower Frenzy


Basic Premise:
Individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a uniquely talented bouquet of flowers! This STEM challenge actually contains four challenge prompts that can be taken separately or simultaneously in groups:

Floating Flowers
Fluff & Flatten Flowers
Functional Flowers
Firmly Fixed Flowers


Stem Basics:
  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.
  • 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.








Example handouts: 

From: Cupid's Quiver

From: "Heavy" Hearts



Check out these other great ideas from some of my favorite bloggers!




9 comments:

  1. Love this. I know your students must love it too.

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  2. These are great. I adore themed STEM activities around holidays.

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  3. I love your formats and methods! I wish I had had you as a teacher!

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  4. You always have THE BEST challenges!! We did Cupid's Quiver last week; it was definitely challenging & the kids LOVED it!! This week we're going to do Cards in the Clouds! Can't wait!

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    1. Thanks so much, Kathie! It delights me that your kids are loving it! :)

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  5. Omg I love these! I'm following you now!

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