Back to School STEM Challenge Activity - Apples Afar

Rated 4.86 out of 5, based on 14 reviews
14 Ratings
Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
24 pages
Share this resource
Report this resource to TPT
Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
Also included in
  1. These Back to School STEM / STEAM challenges are a great way to build community, establish procedures, and get to know how your kids tick! Plus, they’re a great intro to forces and interactions and Newton’s three laws of motion.You want to start the school year with something fun......something dif
    Price $8.98Original Price $17.50Save $8.52
  2. Super-charge your STEM class with 52 high-engagement, critical thinking, problem-solving, NGSS-aligned challenges to take you through the entire year! Modifications are included to make these activities engaging and challenging for students in grades 2 - 8. The basic premise: Students work in partne
    Price $95.00Original Price $186.36Save $91.36
  3. This back-to-school STEM / STEAM Challenge brings the joy back to your classroom with collaborative, hands-on, brain-busting work (disguised as fun)! Of course, this challenge is also great for any time of year, but especially in the fall when learning about apples, Johnny Appleseed, or Sir Isaac Ne
    Price $4.98Original Price $7.00Save $2.02
  4. Back to School STEM for the Beginning of the Year!These back-to-school STEM activities are the perfect way to start your year off strong with the engineering design process and 4 C's of engineering!Grab two engaging beginning of the year STEM Challenge activities to engage your students with STEM. B
    Price $5.98Original Price $7.48Save $1.50


This back-to-school STEM / STEAM Challenge brings the joy back to your classroom with collaborative, hands-on, brain-busting work (disguised as fun)! Of course, this challenge is also great for any time of year, but especially in the fall when learning about apples, Johnny Appleseed, or Sir Isaac Newton!

The basic premise:

Individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a cantilever to suspend an apple as far away from a desk’s edge as possible.


Note: This is the printable version. If you are in a 1:1 / paperless classroom, you will want to check out the digital option for use with GOOGLE SLIDES (TM) instead.

If you have questions about which version is right for you, please feel free to leave me a question using the product Q&A below.


Resource includes:

NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8

Teacher Tips

  • Links to STEM Challenge How-To videos
  • Materials and timing
  • Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
  • Measuring results
  • Post-design extension activities list
  • Link to a video walk-through of the challenge

Student Handouts

  • Criteria & Constraints List (color and black & white; editable version provided)
  • Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included) (editable and in color and black & white)
  • Discussion Questions (editable and in color and black & white)

Extension templates

  • Process Flow Map
  • Create Math Problems Based on Designs
  • Worksheet: Measure the cantilever span distance in standard and non-standard units (editable version provided)
  • Worksheet: Convert span distance from customary (in.) to metric (cm) and then from cm to other metric units of measurement (editable version provided)


This is one of five challenges available at a discount in the Back-to-School STEM Challenge Bundle

This resource is also available in the STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE at an even greater discount!


Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.

  • Small apple (1)
  • >>>> Use very small apples. For younger students, you may prefer to not use the apple at all
  • Unsharpened pencils (5 – 10)
  • Rubber bands (5 – 10)
  • Pocket folder with prongs (1)
  • >>>>File folder or pocket folder without prongs may be substituted
  • Tape (one roll of masking tape)
  • String or yarn (36 – 48 in.)
  • Medium and/or large binders clips (2 - 4)
  • Paper lunch bag (1)
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Desk or table
  • >>>>Devices can also be built from counters, but a desk or table offers more options to create tie-downs and ways to secure the devices.
  • Design analysis handouts (included)


  • Craft sticks
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Paper clips
  • Single hole punch
  • An extra ruler with which to build


You might also like these resources:

Analyze and Interpret Data Unit

Back to School Ice Breaker Activity

Back to School STEM Challenge Activities: 1:1 PAPERLESS Version

Build a Boat STEM Challenge Mini Bundle

Card Tower STEM Challenge Mini Bundle

Halloween STEM Challenge Bundle

Oral and Written Communication Skills Task Cards

STEM Challenges: Year-Round Mega Bundle

Summer / End of the Year STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle


Please check out the video preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!


Video preview music credit:

"Carefree" Kevin MacLeod (

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Total Pages
24 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
Report this resource to TPT
Reported resources will be reviewed by our team. Report this resource to let us know if this resource violates TPT’s content guidelines.


to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.


Questions & Answers


TPT empowers educators to teach at their best.

More About Us

Keep in Touch!

Sign Up