End of the School Year 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!
End of the School Year STEM Challenge: In Drippin' Dash, students design a water scoop purpose-built for stability and to hold max volume! Guaranteed to keep students engaged in collaborative, problem-solving, brain-busting fun! 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!



Materials needed for Drippin' Dash


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, especially at the end of the school year?! 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 End of the School Year 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!

Also, please reach out with any questions and tag me in photos of your students’ work on Facebook & Instagram.


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



End of the School Year STEM Challenge: In Drippin' Dash, students design a water scoop purpose-built for stability and to hold max volume! Guaranteed to keep students engaged in collaborative, problem-solving, brain-busting fun! Includes modifications for grades 2-8.



Video Transcription

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.
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.
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
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.
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.



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.
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.



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.
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.
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
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.
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.



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.
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
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.



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.
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
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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