March 6, 2016

Easter STEM Challenge Events






Back in October, I decided to create my first set of holiday-themed STEM challenges. It was one of those units that re-inspires you -- I guess I should say it re-inspired me, at least!  I had fantastic responses from students and teachers, so as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day came around, I was excited to put together new challenges for my growing seasonal STEM series.

Now, Easter is almost upon us. I had been hoping to have the challenge set ready by March 7, but I've decided to take another week to fine-tune and, honestly, to be kind to myself and work at a more reasonable pace.  Plus, we still have another week to implement the St. Patrick's Day challenges, so why rush? (Update, March 10: Series is complete!)

With that, I'm going to approach this Easter STEM Events blog differently from those in the past, where the challenges were introduced all together at the same time. To keep on track, I will unveil one new Easter challenge each day this week until all five are revealed.
Nice Nest Criteria & Constraints List

As always, materials for all challenges were procured at the Dollar Tree except a large box of craft sticks (Michael’s) and candy (Target).

Just by viewing the information below (as it becomes available), 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 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 Easter, 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: Nice Nest

Basic Premise: Individually, or in partners/groups, students will build a nest that holds as many eggs as possible using predominantly toilet paper.

You'll want the very cheapest TP one can find - maybe you can even use the school's TP!  The thinner the TP, the harder this challenge becomes!

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: Bean Bind


Basic Premise: Due to equipment malfunctioning at the bean factory, several types of beans are all mixed-up, putting the Easter Bunny in a bind!  Individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a device to sort the jelly beans from the mixed-up beans. 

If you’re working with younger students, you’ll want to mix jelly beans with only one other bean type that is not too similar in size (e.g. black beans). For older students, increase to two or three other bean types, some of which may be closer in size to the jelly beans.




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: Carrot Carriage


Basic Premise: Individually, or in partners/groups, students will design and build a carriage to hold cargo and roll downhill made primarily of carrots.

Note: You'll need to demonstrate to students before starting how to handle the toothpicks safely so they don't poke their fingers. Pictures and notes are included in the prepared lesson.

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: Egg-hanced


Basic Premise: This is a classic egg-drop challenge with optional modifications. Individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a device to protect an egg from cracking when dropped from one or more predetermined heights.




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: Basket Bounce



Basic Premise: Individually, or in partners/groups, students design and build a basket that will hold and contain Easter eggs as they participate in the Basket Bounce relay race.


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.









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



6 comments:

  1. I love this challenge, so much fun and so much learning at the same time. Your class must love this.

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  2. So fun!! You're always so creative!! The toilet paper one looks like a challenge! Can't wait to see you next week!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kathie! I'm looking so forward to it!

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  3. I love your ideas! They get me thinking about how to integrate STEM into my subject areas. Thank you.

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