Back-to-School STEM challenges are a great way to build community, establish procedures, and get to know how your kids tick!
Plus, this is a great intro to forces and interactions and Newton’s three laws of motion, which are part of 3rd and middle school NGSS standards! (3PS2-1, MS-PS2-1, and MS-PS2-2)
Of course, this challenge is also great for any time in the fall when learning about apples and Johnny Appleseed!
The basic premise:
In partners/groups, students will design and build an apple catcher to keep falling apples from hitting the ground.
*** CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO PREVIEW ***
Multiple iterations are recommended to get the most student benefit, but this can also be treated as a one-off activity.
This challenge is available in the Back-to-School 5-in-1 STEM Challenge BUNDLE at a savings of 33% off the cost of buying each challenge separately. What a bargain! ☺
This resource is also available in the STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE at an even greater discount!
Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:
- Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning
- 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 at least ~ 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. I recommend working on STEM Design Challenges in multiple iterations to get the full value.
Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
– Apple (1)
– Large boxes without lids (at least 10 in. x 10 in. - shoe boxes, shipping boxes, etc.).
– Try to get similarly-sized boxes or supplement the materials of groups with larger boxes.
– For increased difficulty, have students build on a cardboard or foam board base (no raised edges)
– Cylindrical object (1)
– Coffee can, paper towel tube, water bottle, rolled file folder, 6 or more pencils tied together, etc.
– Pencils (10 - 12)
– Pipe cleaners (10)
– Small and/or large paperclips (20)
– Rubber bands (5 – 10)
– Tape (24 – 36 in.)
– String or yarn (24 – 36 in.)
– Design analysis handouts (included)
– Craft sticks
– Foil or lunch bags
– Binder clips
– Decorative green & red paper to build out the tree
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
- Link to short video description this challenge coming: Aug. 11
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Post-design extension activities list
- Criteria & Constraints List (editable version provided)
- Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included)
- Discussion Questions
- Estimate & Measure Mass worksheet (2 versions; one includes conversion from grams t0 kilograms and milligrams)
- Task card templates & tips
- Apple-shaped writing template (editable)
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension
You might also like these products:
Seasonal STEM Design Challenge 5-in-1 Bundles (grades 2 – 8):
Or these great products:
Getting Started with STEM Challenges Freebie
Photosynthesis: Hands-on Modeling Activity
Analyze and Interpret Data Unit
New Earth City STEM Challenge
Card Towers STEM Challenge
Build a Boat STEM Challenge