Spring is HERE! I am always happy to move on to a new season, because each new season provides inspiration for STEM challenges! I’ve got some super-engaging & fun ways to bust through that spring fever — five collaborative, super-charged critical thinking & problem-solving STEM activities: Nice Nest, Egg-hanced, Basket Bounce, Carrot Carriage, and Bean Bind! And don’t worry if you aren’t interested in Easter challenges; there are simple tweaks to make these just for spring!
As you scroll through this post, you’ll find a brief overview and photos of each challenge; more details can be found by clicking on the challenge titles. I’m in the process of filming video walk-throughs for each challenge, which I will include on their own individual blog posts. You can find the linked schedule for when these will post below.
Make sure you pin the image to the left so you can easily make your way back to check for videos on their post dates!
Video Walk-Throughs Include:
* An overview of how to conduct the challenge, including was to make the challenges more spring-based than Easter-based, if desired
* Basic criteria & constraints
* Ways to make the challenge easier or harder for your students
* How to extend with cross-curricular lessons/activities
* Demonstrations & examples
* Materials tips & more!
Criteria & Constraints List
* Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs (see example, right).
*Need more details on how to break up a STEM Challenge lesson? Check out The STEM Challenge Cycle.
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!
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. (Not to worry, if your students are too cool for this explanation, we can take down the cutesy factor by just calling it a factory mix-up!)
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.
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.
Challenge: Basket Bounce