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.
Are There Other End of the Year/Summer STEM Challenges Like This?
You can find even more STEM challenges in my Mega Bundle, on this blog, and on my YouTube channel!
there, welcome to the very best day of the week, STEM Challenge Day. If your
students are getting a little squirrely and it’s hard to keep them engaged,
check out Wicked Fast Water Slide. In this challenge, students are going to be
making a water slide built for speed, thrills and safety of course.
take just a second to 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. Just a couple quick notes about
materials, if you have any spare cardboard or foam board around, it’s great to
let students build on top of that. That way their slides are transportable and
you can do the testing, and keep all the watery mess outside of your classroom.
the people riding the slides, I like to use little beads or marbles, and I do
also like to add blue food coloring to the water just to make it look a little
bit more like a waterpark. The base criteria and constraints are as follows.
The students need to get six riders down the slide as quickly as possible. They
need a way for the riders to get from the ground to the top of the slide. There
must be a collection pool. The riders may not be ejected off the ride, and they
should not collide with other riders. I don’t count collisions in the
collection pool, because if they were actually people, they’d be able to swim
out of the way.
older students to give at least three twists or turns, but for younger
students, you can reduce that to just one or two. I like to set the maximum height
at 18 inches. Now, for younger students, if you want to keep this a little bit
more relaxed, you can have them focus more on the safety elements. So, they
need to focused mostly on keeping the riders on the slide, and prevent them
from colliding with each other, at least until they hit the collection pool.
You can require that they build one or two turns, but maybe you aren’t so
focused on how quickly they can get those six people down the slide.
have older students, you might be looking to increase the difficulty. One thing
you can do, is require more twists or turns, or you could be specific about the
angles of those turns. Perhaps you require that one angle be between 30 and 60
degrees, while another is 120 degrees or greater. I wouldn’t recommend
dictating every angle of every turn, because you do want there to be some
variety in their end slide designs.
could add a criterion for water conservation. The students will be aiming to
get their six riders down the slide as quickly as possible using as little
water as possible. You can also eliminate the cardboard tubes. If you do that,
make sure you supplement with additional cups or foil, or other materials to
make up for it.
it comes time to measure results, you’re going to want to let students have a
little bit of practice time before you do an official measurement round. This
is part of why the collection pool is so important because you’re going to want
them to be able to take the water, put it back in the bottle so that they can
retest their design several times.
students will record three measurements here. The time it takes to get all six
riders down the slide, how many riders stayed on the slide, and the number of
collisions, if any. Quick note, if you did decide to have younger focus more on
safety, rather than doing the total time it takes to get six riders down the
slide, perhaps have them focus on the time they need to wait in between riders
to ensure safety.
everyone else, the timer starts when the first rider hits the slide. Teams
might decide that they want to start pouring a little bit of water ahead of
that, and that’s fine, but the timer starts when the first rider hits the
slide. The timer stops when the sixth rider lands in the collection pool.
teams lots of time to do their measurements so that the team members can switch
roles, so it’s not always the same person pouring the water, putting the riders
on the slide, keeping the time, and so forth. Everyone should have an
opportunity to try to do as many jobs as possible.
extend on this, students should look into the science of water slides. Now, of
course they can look into computer programs and monitor materials that
engineers use today, but I’m thinking more along the lines of friction,
gravity, potential energy and kinetic energy. Once they’ve done a little bit of
learning and research on those topics, even if you don’t have time for a full
second iteration, have the teams go back into their groups, and talk about how
they would make some modification to their slide and what the justification is
for those changes.
can also have students look into waterpark sustainability and how do they keep
the water clean. You could also pose the question to students, in times of
drought, is it ethical for water parks to remain open? You could have students
discuss, debate, do some research and even persuasive writing on the topic.
now have all the basics you need to do Wicked Fast Water Slide in your class on
your own, but of course, I’ve always got extra goodies for you in the resource,
so take a second to check it out. This time saving 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 is
ready and waiting.
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 Wicked Fast Water
Slide 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.
find an editable Criteria and Constraints list so you can tailor the challenge
to your students. There are two versions of design analysis handouts. 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.
Extension Handouts, you’ll find a forces research log and design application
handout as well as math extension and process flow templates. This resource is
available individually and is part of the discounted Summer and Mega STEM
Challenge Bundles. Links can be found in the description below the video.
you and your students are going to have such a great time with Wicked Fast
Water Slide. Make sure that you are following my store on Teachers Pay
Teachers, or subscribed on YouTube. I’ll be back next time with a final Summer
STEM Challenge Amphibious Phone. Have a fabulous week I will see next time.