February 27, 2016

St. Patrick's Day STEM Challenge Events


Luck is in the air! Being Irish, I've always loved St. Patty's Day, but it is often a holiday that comes and goes in the classroom without much notice other than wearing our green. Now, I've created five new STEM design challenges that will be a fantastic way to pay tribute to the day!  Almost better than finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, right?

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 Get the Gold
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 St. Patrick'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: Guard the Gold

Basic Premise:

For leprechauns, life is a constant struggle to protect their pot of gold from treasure hunters and keep from getting caught themselves! 

Working against criteria & constraints individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build one or more devices to help a leprechaun guard his pot of gold from thieves.



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: Get the Gold

Basic Premise:

Working against criteria & constraints individually or in partners/groups, students design and build one or more devices to transfer leprechaun gold from his pot to their own.

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:

You may know that leprechauns have the ability to grant three wishes to human captors in exchange for their freedom, but capturing leprechauns is trickier than it sounds! 

Working in groups against criteria & constraints and equipped with a Leprechaun Lore List, students will design and build a device to lure and safely capture a leprechaun. (Rolling balls are used to symbolize the swift movement of leprechauns.)



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:

Individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a device to rid Ireland of snakes as quickly and safely as possible.
  • Snakes (10 – 20) are spread over a map of Ireland. Student devices must lift snakes from Ireland and drop them in the surrounding ocean.





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: Limitless Luck

Basic Premise:

Pennies found face up, horseshoes, and four-leaf clovers have long been symbols of luck. This challenge combines an element of each famous symbol. Originally conceived as an introduction to probability, in this challenge, students “make” their own luck by creating a four-leaf frisbee designed to always land face-up. A horseshoe-like game called four-leaf frisbee was added as an extension for a little extra St. Patrick’s Day fun. 



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.



From Leprechaun Lockdown




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