April 20, 2017

Summer STEM Challenge: Drippin' Dash

You are almost there. The end of the school year is calling to you like a siren song. The problem is your students hear it too. You don't want to waste your instructional time with "fun", but keeping students engaged as summer approaches is no easy feat. 

Summer STEM challenges are the perfect answer. STEM challenges keep students engaged in collaborative, problem-solving, brain-busting fun! I challenge you to find a better use of class time! 

Summer STEM Challenge: In Drippin' Dash, students design a water scoop purpose-built for stability and to hold max volume! Includes modifications for grades 2-8.


Working against a criteria & constraints list, students design a water scoop purpose-built for stability and to hold max volume! They'll test the stability in the Dripping' Dash Relay Race!

Have students design individually or in partners, and group them up into teams for the race!

Where Can I Find Out More?

If you're familiar with my work, you know I've been switching over to using video to explain the bulk of my challenges. It seems to be the best/fastest way to explain the important details: materials, set-up, tips, modifications, extensions, demonstrations, and more! Who has time to read all that?! However, if you prefer to read, you'll find the video transcribed at the end of this post.

Check out the video below to see Drippin' Dash in action:

Are There Other Challenges Like This?

Of course! I can't help myself! I have created 5 challenges for summer/the end of the school year! You can find the overview of each on this blog post. Each challenge is described in the post linked above, so be sure to check it out! 

Please reach out with any questions and tag me in photos of your students' work on Facebook & Instagram.

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


Summer STEM Challenge: In Drippin' Dash, students design a water scoop purpose-built for stability and to hold max volume! Includes modifications for grades 2-8.

Video Transcription

Hi there. The end of the school year is right around the corner, I promise. But, that means you are gonna need to have some highly engaging student activities ready. Don't worry, I've got you covered. Today we are kicking off the Summer STEM Challenges with Drippin' Dash. Now, in this challenge students are developing a water scoop purpose built for volume and stability, and they're gonna use it in a relay race called the Drippin' Dash. Let's take a moment to check out the materials and the STEM Challenge Cycle and then dive right in.

This is the STEM Challenge Cycle you should follow for every challenge. I've defined each step in another visit. I've added a pop-in card to that video here, as well as a link in the description.
Just a quick note about materials. Now, every group that's doing the Drippin' Dash is going to need two buckets, one at their start line, and one at their finish line. But, they do not need to be uniform in size or shape at all. I have just a couple of examples here. But, you can even use coffee cans, plastic bins, whatever you have around that can contain water. But, it does need to have an opening big enough for the students to put their scoops in.

You could have the students either design their scoops in partners or individually, and then when it's time to conduct the race you can group them up into bigger teams.
As always I like to start simple with criteria and constraints, so the Drippin' Dash scoop must be able to be held with one finger, and no dimension can exceed three inches. But if your students are very young, feel free to increase that to four or five inches, and you could also let the students use two fingers to hold their scoop. But you're definitely gonna want a size constraint there, because you don't want the students creating huge scoops because then the Drippin' Dash becomes more difficult for you to conduct.

If you want to increase the difficulty you have several options. The first is to decrease that size constraint to just one or two inches. You could require that students develop two more scoops. I usually use that one when students are working with partners. And each scoop in that case needs to be a different size, or shape, or use a different dominant material.

There are also a few things you can do when conducting the race to increase difficulty. First, let's look at that criterion that the scoop must be able to be held by one finger. That's meant to test the stability. Most students will hold it with a little crook in their finger in order to help stabilize the scoop. But you can require that the finger must be held straight out, and that does make things more challenging.

You could add obstacles or cones that students need to weave around. You can require that as students are racing the course, they're actually holding two scoops, one in each hand. You can even require it be a zombie run. You can even conduct this as a three legged race where each partner is holding out one of their scoops in their outer hands.

Students are gonna take two volume measurements. One before the race, and one as part of the race. Before the race starts, students will test their scoops for the liquid volume. We want to see how well this scoop performs in isolated conditions. And we do this because we want students to have an idea of how successful their scoops are prior to the race. And because some scoops might actually hold quite a bit of liquid volume, but they might not be very stable, which we will find out in the relay race.

Now, it's ideal if you have graduated cylinders or beakers with funnels. But, if you don't have that equipment available to you, you can use just your standard, every day measuring cup from home. Now, for me the first line I can actually read on my measuring cup is 100 milliliters, or on the other side, customary is a quarter cup. Now, I'm fairly certain my scoops are not gonna be quite that successful. So, in this case, I would tell my students you need to measure how many of your scoops do you need in order to get to 100 milliliters? So maybe that's two scoops, two and a half scoops, three scoops, there's probably gonna need to be some estimation. But it's a way around not having all the scientific equipment available to you.

All right, so let's talk about how to conduct the Drippin' Dash relay race. As I said before, you're going to group students together. For this race, you don't actually need an even number in each team. Teams will line up behind a bucket full of water, Bucket A. Set up an empty bucket receptacle, Bucket B at an appropriate distance for your age group. I usually stick with about 100 yards. You will set the time for the race, say 60 to 90 seconds, teams will send their members down the race course as many times as they can until time is called.

At the go signal, student one in each group scoops water from Bucket A and places the scoop device on just one finger. He or she runs or walks to Bucket B, dumps the water into the bucket and races back to his or her team to tag or hand off to the next person. If teams are alternating scoop designs, instruct them ahead of time, they must wait to be tagged before filling their scoop for their turn.

During a turn, if a scoop breaks, falls off the finger, or the student uses more than one finger to hold or adjust the scoop, that student loses his or her turn. He or she returns to the team and tags the next person in line to continue the race. Once the race is over, each group must measure the water in their Bucket B.

Alternatively, rather than taking a true measurement, teams can simply compare results. Set aside a Bucket C.

One at a time, each team dumps their Bucket B into Bucket C and marks their waterline on the side of Bucket C with tape or a marker. Bucket C is emptied back into each groups Bucket B after they mark their waterline to prepare for the next group. Have all groups keep their Bucket B until a winner is named, in case there's a close call that requires a true measurement.

Because the students probably either designed individually, or in partners, teams are gonna have more scoops than they really need. Still have the students bring all of them out to the race with them, because if one of the scoops fails during the race, they can use one of the others.

I let the teams choose a strategy of which scoops to use for the race. They might decide to let every individual use his or her own. They may choose just the best scoop design and transfer it like a baton. Basically anything goes here, they can use all of the designs, one of the designs or anything in between.

To extend on this you can have students do some research into fresh water scarcity. You can have them look into the helicopters and planes and the scoops that they use to put out forest fires. Now, those are basically this challenge on steroids. It has to have massive volume and a lot of stability. So, have them look into what materials do they use? How much water do they actually hold? You can have students do some research into what a dripping faucet actually costs the person paying the water bill.

You have all the basics to do this challenge in your class on your own, but as always, lots of extra goodies in the resource. So take a second to check it out.

This time saving resource contains everything you need, including modifications for use with 2nd through 8th graders. You'll still need to gather the simple materials of course, but the rest is ready and waiting. 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 Drippin' Dash 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. You'll find an editable Criteria and Constraints List so you can tailor the challenge to your students. For student design analysis 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 calculating water waste worksheet, as well as math extension and process flow templates.

This resource is available individually, and as part of the discounted Summer and Mega STEM Challenge Bundles. Links can be found in the description below the video.

Make sure you're following my store on Teachers Pay Teachers and subscribed on YouTube. I'm gonna be back next time with the second challenge, Pick and Pack. Have a fantastic week. I'll see you next time.

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