February 28, 2017

St. Patrick's Day STEM Challenge: Guard the Gold

For leprechauns, life is a constant struggle to protect their pot of gold from treasure hunting thieves and keep from getting caught themselves! This St. Patrick's Day STEM challenge takes a look at a leprechaun's struggle to guard his gold! 

St. Patrick's Day STEM Challenge: In Guard the Gold, students build one or more devices to help a leprechaun guard his pot of gold from thieves! Comes with modifications for grades 2-8.


Working against a criteria & constraints list, students build one or more devices to help a leprechaun quickly move and hide his gold from potential thieves!

Where Can I Find Out More?

I could write it all down, but you've probably already had a long day. Wouldn't it be nicer to just sit back and watch? I've found creating video walk-throughs of my STEM challenges is the best/fastest way to explain the important details: materials, set-up, tips, modifications, extensions, and more! Check out the video below to learn more about Guard the Gold. 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 can't help myself! I have created 5 challenges for St. Pat's! You can find the overview of each on this blog post. These challenges will all post by March 12, 2017. Each challenge will be linked to the post linked above, so be sure to check back weekly! 

Please reach out with any questions and tag me in photos of your students' work on Facebook & Instagram if you want to give me a smile this holiday season!

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

Video Transcription

Hi there, we are on week two of the St. Patrick's Day STEM challenges. This one is Guard the Gold. We're taking the point of view of the leprechaun and trying to defend the gold from thieves. Before I get ahead of myself let's take a look at the materials in 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.

So you saw in the materials that we need to have some gold, and I like these candies best. Hershey's Almond or the gold coins work really well for this challenge. Remember, the more variety you provide in the materials, the more variety you'll get in the student designs. But you don't need to provide every single material you saw on the photo just now.

What the students are trying to do in this challenge is move the gold from one pot to another pot that's at least six inches away. Ideally both pots of gold would be concealed from potential thieves, but certainly the last pot needs to be. I do have student incorporate elements from the Leprechaun Lore List just as last week, and I'll link that video. If you didn't get a chance to see that you want to check it out. The main constraint here is that no harm should come to any thieves. Trying to avoid students creating booby traps that would kill a potential thief, and really focus on moving the gold and hiding the gold instead. I don't want to get violent. 

To increase the difficulty on this you can increase the distance that the gold has to be moved. You can require specific examples of simple machines, so perhaps they have to use a first class lever. You can add a weight constraint, so you would the students weigh the gold by itself before they do any design, and then weigh the final design all together and say that maybe it can't be more than 150% of the weight of the original gold. You can also turn this into more of a Rube Goldberg challenge and have the students design something where the leprechaun can trigger a chain of events to move the gold and maybe require there be three events. 

To measure results on this just have students track the time it takes to move the gold from point A to point B. Of course allow for the possibility that students may be partially successful here. It's possible that not all of the gold will make it into the pot. Some might fall out along the way or get stuck or jammed. I have students write that in on their recording sheets, so the time it takes for most of it to transfer and then they would note some pieces fell out and that would be an area where they could improve their design.

All right, let's take this for a test spin. 

One option is to have students write a story about treasure seekers looking for leprechaun gold, and then when they're done with it write that same story from the flip side. Same exact story, but from the point of view of the leprechaun. Now in order to save time on this, instead of having the students write two stories by themselves, you can keep them in their groups, have them come up with a general plot diagram for what's going to happen in the story and then once the group has the basic plot diagram done split that group in half and have half of them write it from the point of view of the treasure hunters and the other half write it from the point of view of the leprechaun. 

Now of course we know that leprechauns tend to hide their gold at the end of rainbows so this is a natural opportunity to study rainbows and the visible light spectrum, and once they've learned about rainbows have them write an argument for or against leprechauns hiding their gold at the end of the rainbow. 

So you are ready to conduct Guard the Gold in your class, but definitely take a second to check out the resource. There are a lot of extra goodies. Guard your time. This resource 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 rest has been 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 Guard the Gold Material list. In Teacher Tips you'll find premise and set up, how to increase or 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, as well as, a Leprechaun Lore List. 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 a rainbow research log as well as math extension and process flow templates. This resource is available individually and is part of the discounted St. Patrick's Day and Mega STEM challenge bundles. Links can be found in the description below the video.

Don't forget to like and subscribe. I'm going to be back next time with the partner challenge for this. It is called Get the Gold. Have a great week. I'll see you next time.

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