September 7, 2016

Halloween STEM Challenge: Wings Wanted

Halloween STEM Challenge: Wings Wanted. Looking for a great way to keep students engaged, thinking critically, and working on hands-on problem solving? In this challenge, students create a new set of bat wings!

Kids have the worst time trying to concentrate on school the day of Halloween -- and it's even worse the day after! You'll need something extra engaging for them in order to keep their brains working at max capacity. Wouldn't you know it, I've got just the thing: Wings Wanted!

Wings Wanted Halloween STEM Challenge example Premise:
This is essentially a paper airplane challenge. Start with a wingless, bat body template and have students build out a set of wings to help it fly the max distance possible. You can also test for target accuracy and/or style, if desired.

Halloween Ban?
If Halloween activities are taboo or forbidden in your classroom, not to worry! Connect this challenge with lessons on bats in the ecosystem, food chains/webs, read Stella Luna and conduct bat inquiries ... the list goes on and on! You can always find ways around a Halloween ban!

Want More Wings Wanted Info?
Want to know more about materials, how to keep it simple for the younger kids, or add some complexity for older kids? See the video below for a walk-through of this challenge as well as what you can do to modify for the savvy STEM challenger! However, if you prefer to read, you'll find the video transcribed at the end of this post.

Wings Wanted Video:

Are There Others Like This?
You know me, I hate to stop with one seasonal challenge, so I never do! This is one of five Halloween challenges. Starting Sept. 8, I'll be posting one Halloween STEM challenge video every Thursday to my YouTube channel.

Until then, you'll find the Halloween bundle briefly described in this post

All challenges are available individually and in discounted bundles in my TpT store, as well:

Wings Wanted Halloween STEM Challenge example

Video Transcription

Yay, Halloween, it's my favorite. I know it's a little bit early, but I have five STEM challenges to share with you for Halloween, and if I don't start now I won't have time to finish before Halloween. 

So challenge one of five is called Wings Wanted, and it's basically a paper airplane challenge. You're gonna really love it, it's straightforward, simple materials, and the kids really love it. So I know not everybody is allowed to do Halloween activities at their school, so don't call it a Halloween activity. Your cross-curricular connections are gonna be even more important if you're not allowed to do Halloween activities. A bat is just an animal, so do a food web, food chain, bats in the ecosystem, read Stellaluna, there are a lot of different options here.

Let's take a quick look at the materials and the STEM Challenge Cycle. This is a STEM Challenge Cycle you should follow for every challenge. I've defined each step in another video, you can click on the title now to see the cycle explained.

If you've ever done origami or made paper airplanes and made some mistakes before, you noticed that after too many folds and refolds the paper sort of loses its integrity. So because of this you're gonna wanna make sure to give students scratch paper for their initial designs, and then they'll use the bat body templates as their final. So for measuring results on this I usually just go for max distance, but you might also wanna try to set up targets and go for accuracy, or even give style points for loops and that kind of thing.

So there are a few ways to make this a little bit more difficult if you have older students and you wanna challenge them just a little bit more. You can ask them to include cargo, so they can have to maybe even tape, like, a little candy corn, or paper clip might be easier. You can ask them to remove, like actually cut out, 25% of the paper, which requires them to actually do the measurements and figure out how much paper they need to remove. You can also make a challenge requirement that the bat body be visible, either underneath the wings or on top of the wings, as you see here in this one. And then this one's actually built the other way, so he's flying face down.

So you already have the basics in order to conduct this challenge on your own, but this is also available as a resource in my store, and it includes a lot of extras, like the bat body templates themselves, as well as student handouts, additional modifications, cross-curricular connections, and more. So make sure you check it out.

Your time is valuable, why not save some of it with this resource? It contains everything you need, including modifications for use with second through eighth graders. You'll still need to gather the simple materials of course, but the hard parts are done. You'll get Aligned Next Generation Science Standards, links to my STEM challenge professional development videos to help you get the most from each challenge, and the Wings Wanted materials list. In Teacher Tips you'll find premise and setup, how to increase or decrease difficulty through the criteria and constraints list, measuring results, and cross-curricular extension suggestions, which will be especially helpful if you need to prove this is not just a Halloween activity. You'll find an editable Criteria & Constraints List, so you can tailor the challenge to your students, and you'll also get bat body templates.

For Student Handouts there are two versions, four-page expanded room for response for younger students, and a two-page condensed space paper saver version. You'll also find a set of group discussion questions. In the Extension Handouts you'll find math extension and process flow templates. This resource is available individually, and as part of the discounted Halloween and Mega STEM Challenge bundles. Links can be found in the description bellow the video.

So again, this is a great challenge because it's so simple, straightforward, very inexpensive materials, and the kids really love it. Be sure you like and subscribe, and come back next week for challenge two of five, Bone Bridge.

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