In this St. Patrick’s Day STEM Challenge, students will design and build one or more devices to transfer leprechaun gold from his pot to their own.
Looking for St. Patrick’s Day activities that your students will love but are more than just a craft or activity to pass the time? This St. Patrick’s STEM Challenge (or STEAM Challenge) will keep your students engaged in brain-busting work disguised as fun!
The basic premise:
Working against criteria & constraints individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build one or more devices to transfer leprechaun gold from his pot to their own.
- NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- Teacher Tips:
- Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Handouts Post-design extension activities list
- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
- Student Slides:
- Criteria & Constraints List (editable version provided)
- Results and Design Analysis
- Discussion Questions
- Extension templates
- Write a Limerick
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension options (Identifying even vs. odd numbers; using divisibility rules with 4-digit numbers; using divisibility rules with square roots and exponents, and create-your-own word problems)
- Math Extension Option: Identifying equivalent percents, fractions, and decimals
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.)
- Pots of “gold” to test designs (1 per group or 1 whole-class)
- Pots: Halloween plastic cauldrons look the part, but any bowl will do.
- Gold: chocolate coins, Almond Hershey’s Kisses, Rolos, etc. (two or three bags should be plenty for the whole class)
- Alternate option: if you also did the “Guard the Gold” challenge, use student-made pots of gold.
- Pipe cleaners (5 – 10)
- String/yarn (12 24 in.)
- Tape (12 – 24 in.)
- Rubber bands (5 – 10)
- Bags to collect gold (1)
- Ruler/measuring tape
- Design analysis handouts (included)
- Craft sticks (5 – 10)
- Paperclips (10 – 20)
- Straws (5 – 10)
- Binder clips or clothespins (5)
- Bowls, cups, or coffee filters (1)
- Plastic spoons, knives, or forks
- Decoy/fool’s gold: crumpled yellow paper, cotton balls, etc.
Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:
- Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning
- Helps students develop growth mindset traits like persistence and resilience
- High levels of student engagement
- The potential to hit upon all NGSS ETS standards depending on the depth and number of iterations you choose to implement in your classroom (modifications included)
- Highly flexible and differentiated for materials, timing, grade levels, and rigor.
Each design iteration should be planned for ~60 min. if you are including data gathering and analysis rather than just building for fun. If you add extension activities, you will need to adjust timing accordingly.
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