Antarctica Shelter STEM Challenge - Engineering Design

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21 Ratings
Vivify STEM
Grade Levels
K - 5th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
20 pages
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Vivify STEM
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Take your students on a educational journey to Antarctica with this complete lesson! Read the letter from fictitious travel guides explaining weather conditions and the hazards of living in Antarctica. Students will learn about "insulation" and "freezing point" as they complete introductory activities using dry ice (optional) and simulating animal blubber! An icebreaker activity facilitates teamwork as students must "cross the ice" to travel across the classroom while only touching sheets of paper "ice". Using the engineering design process, student teams are then tasked with designing an insulating shelter to prevent ice from melting! Students also learn about the STEM careers of geoscience, marine biology, and satellite engineering to bring in a real-world STEM connection. Related math problems extend the learning fun!

Click here for an editable STEM journal to use with distance learning, including digital and printable versions.

As with many STEM activities that are student-driven, this challenge can be tailored to students of various skill levels and abilities.

Included in this product:

  • Detailed teachers guide with links to resources
  • Grading rubric for the engineering design process
  • STEM Career Connections
  • Icebreaker activity instructions
  • Student handouts to guide them through the engineering design process
  • Math extension problems

Required Materials for Challenge: Styrofoam cups, tape, foil, card stock/standard paper, wax paper, scissors, paper plates, craft sticks, cotton balls, plastic condiment containers, small liquid measurement containers, and ice.

Looking for more STEM lessons? Find the Vivify resource guide here:

About STEM Challenges: Click here to learn more about the 3 Stages of STEM. STEM challenges are an engaging way to incorporate the engineering design process into your classroom or after school program! These hands-on activities allow students to work in teams, apply the engineering design process, and connect science topics to real-world applications. The teacher will provide the structure to the project, but students will take an active role in designing and building their own device.

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Total Pages
20 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 hours
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object.
Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/“less of” the attribute, and describe the difference. For example, directly compare the heights of two children and describe one child as taller/shorter.
Express the length of an object as a whole number of length units, by laying multiple copies of a shorter object (the length unit) end to end; understand that the length measurement of an object is the number of same-size length units that span it with no gaps or overlaps.
Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.
Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes.


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