January 19, 2017

Valentine's Day STEM Challenge: Cupid's Quiver

Valentine's Day STEM Challenge: In Cupid’s Quiver, students design a bow & arrow - or darts - to help Cupid deliver love potion (paint). Comes with modifications for grades 2-8.

Valentine’s Day just feels too soon after winter break to have another class party! STEM Challenges are the perfect alternative! Teachers tell me all the time that they use them this way and their kids love it! So you can still embrace the holiday, but forgo the party! Cupid's Quiver will keep your students engaged, thinking critically, and working on hands-on problem solving -- happily!


In Cupid’s Quiver, students design a bow & arrow to help Cupid deliver love potion (paint). If you have young students, you can just have them design the arrow portion and throw them like darts at your target.

Where Can I Find Out More?

As you may already be aware, I've found creating video walk-throughs of my STEM challenges is the best way to explain the important details: materials, set-up, tips, modifications, extensions, and more! Check out the video below to learn more about Cupid's Quiver. However, if you prefer to read, you'll find the video transcribed at the end of this post.

Are There Other Challenges Like This?

Of course! I have five Valentine's Day STEM Challenges ready to go! You can find an overview of each on this blog post.  Each individual challenge will get its own video walk through and blog post starting with Cupid's Quiver on January 19, 2017 and ending with Cards in the Clouds on February 12 (all but the last will post on Thursdays).

You can find even more STEM challenges in my Mega Bundle, on this blog, and on my YouTube channel!

Video Transcription

Hi there, it's time to start the Valentine's Day challenges. It seems like just yesterday I was doing Back-to-school, unbelievable. In this one, students are designing a bow and arrow for Cupid in order to help him with target practice and delivering that love potion, also known as paint. Before I get ahead of myself, let's check out the materials and the STEM Challenge Cycle.

This is the STEM Challenge Cycle you should follow for every challenge. I've defined each step in another video. I've added a pop in card to that video here as well as a link in the description. 

This target is nine pieces of paper put together. You can really use anything. I've seen teachers just use one sheet of paper with the heart and there's no problem with that. I just recommend using a large panel, because more students can be successful in that case and it's really exciting in that case when you hit the target. No matter the age group, you're gonna want to use washable paint.

I recommend putting students in groups for this one. You're gonna want to have the groups make at least one bow and then every student should make an arrow. They don't have to be different from each other, they can each make the same design if they'd like, but each student should have an arrow. If you'd prefer to have one student work on the bow and everybody else do an arrow, then the person who did the bow should just borrow someone else's arrow when it comes time to do the testing. 

Now if you have young students, attempting to do a bow and an arrow could be a little bit tricky, so you could modify this and have them do darts instead. You're gonna also want to think about where to place your targets so you don't get paint where you wouldn't want it. Also, a place where you could retrieve any errant arrows. These are the arrows or darts that I have left. I started with four but two of them are presently in my neighbor's yard and then these are the three bows. Of course before you start, you want to do your basic safety dance. Remind students not to point arrows at each other. Of course on your criteria and constraints, one of the constraints should always be that there will be no sharp edges to their arrows or their darts, because Cupid is a lover not a fighter.

The distance that you have students stand away from the target is probably gonna correlate with their age group. Typically, I'd say start with maybe five feet. You and your students are gonna want to pack your patience for this challenge. Oftentimes it takes a little bit of practice in order to get a rhythm with shooting the bow and arrow. Sometimes there's absolutely nothing wrong with a design, but it's how the students are using the design that's causing the arrows not to go any further than they should. I will show you a few examples.

So some that you just saw being unsuccessful were the very same arrows that later were successful. In fact, one surprised me because one of the arrows I had been using was pretty effective. It was going five to 10 feet, but one of the times it had to be 20 or 30 feet.

Typically, students really enjoy this challenge, but it can be frustrating when you're trying to shoot your bow and arrow and it's not working. One thing you can do is ask students, what's happening or what's not working? Sometimes just when the students verbalize well, the paint is making the arrow heavy and so it won't shoot. Hopefully that gets them to a point where they realize they don't need to use quite so much paint or they could use a smaller portion of a sponge or cotton ball in order to dab in the paint. Or maybe they need to work on the bow in order to deliver more force to the arrow. If they don't make that next leap on their own, then you follow up with well, what needs to happen or what could you try next?

If they aren't as successful as they'd like to be, definitely have students try to analyze what is wrong. Is it the design itself, is it the way they're using it, is it the combination of those factors? Then another option, if you are working with a bow and arrow and it's not working as well as you'd like it to because you can always switch it to darts or allow the students to move closer to the target. But don't give up too early, I'm telling you it takes a little bit of trial and error.

When you get to the point where you're going to actually be measuring results, again make sure that you've given students lots of time to practice. If you are using one target for the entire class, try to give each group a different color paint so it's easy to tell who hit what part of the target. Each of these symbols has point values attached. The lowest point value picture is the hearts that are in the corner are worth five points. I would make hitting anywhere on the paper worth maybe two or three points. Assuming this is on a fence or a wall, I would even probably give students a point for just hitting the wall.

When they're tallying their official results, I have each member of the team take three official shots, whether it's with the bow and arrow or if it's throwing the dart. They can either sum their points or take an average.

A few things you can do to add difficulty; first thing is stand further away from the target. Second thing is you can add a secondary challenge to create a quiver for Cupid to hold his arrows. Of course Cupid flies so it needs to be lightweight and he needs to have easy access to it but it also needs to be something that won't allow the arrows to fall out. You can use darts rules as inspiration and you can change the goal, rather than being the most points or the highest average score to hitting the four corners or hit all of the cupcakes in the fewest number of shots, or have students come up with their own version of rules.

To extend on this one, of course you've got potential and kinetic energies. You could ask students to write a story or a comic strip in which Cupid uses their designs which could be quite comical depending on how good their designs were. You can have students create their own math problems based on their designs or anything to do with the challenge.

You have the basics, you're ready to do this challenge on your own, but definitely check out the resource, it's gonna help you out a lot.

You're going to fall in love with this resource. It contains everything you need to guide your students through the Cupid's Quiver challenge 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 How-to videos to help you get the most from each challenge and the Cupid's Quiver Materials list. In Teacher Tips, you'll find premise and set up, how to increase or decrease difficulty through the Criteria and Constraints list. Measuring results and cross-curricular extension suggestions. You'll find an editable Criteria and Constraints list so you can tailor the challenge to your students. You'll also get targets in color and black and white.

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 as well as two options for recording results. In the Extension Handouts, you'll find cause and effect notes, a practice activity with three versions and answer key as well as math extension and process flow templates. This resource is available individually and as part of the discounted Valentine's and mega STEM challenge bundles. Links can be found in the description below the video.

Okay, that's it for week one. Next week, I'm going to be back with Heavy Hearts. Make sure you like and subscribe, I will see you next time.

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