This back-to-school STEM / STEAM Challenge brings the joy back to your classroom with collaborative, hands-on, brain-busting work (disguised as fun)! 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:
In groups, students will design and build a wearable device to balance an apple on their heads, which they will use to participate in an Apples A-head relay race.
– Students will design their headwear in groups, but each will make his/her own (to minimize any lice concerns). They can decide as a team, and based on available materials, if each member will create unique designs or replicate the team design.
*** CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO PREVIEW ***
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 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.
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- 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
- 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) (color and black & white)
- Discussion Questions (in color and B&W)
- Process Flow Map
- Create Math Problems Based on Designs
- Apple writing templates
- Gravity research log
This is one of five challenges available at a 40% 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. )
– Apple (1)
– Pencils (12 – 16)
– Rubber bands (10 – 20)
– Pocket folder with prongs (1)
• File folder or pocket folder without prongs may be substituted
– Pipe cleaners (10 - 12)
– Paper lunch bags (2 – 3)
– Tape (24 – 36 in.)
– String or yarn (24 – 36 in.)
– Stopwatch or second timer
– Design analysis handouts (included)
• Craft sticks
• Cardboard scraps
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.
What do teachers have to say about this resource?
“I did this with my class today and they could not have raved more about it! The kids were so engaged....they didn't even realize how much engineering they were actually doing! I love how you have the link to the YouTube video as well. It really helped me, as a teacher, to organize myself to teach this lesson! Thank you so much for your hard work.”
“This was the most fun to watch and kids had to really think. We will be doing this every year!”
“Best STEM activity of the year so far....thanks!”
“Great way to extend Johnny Appleseed activities and get students thinking and working together.”
“Great resource! Easily adapted for my grade 2 students as a beginning of the year getting to know you activity.”
You might also like these resources:
STEM Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):
Summer STEM Bundle
Back-to-School STEM Bundle
STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE
Getting Started with STEM Challenges FREEBIE
Card Towers STEM Challenge
Build a Boat STEM Challenge
New Earth City STEM Challenge
Or these great resources:
Photosynthesis: Hands-on Modeling Activity
Analyze and Interpret Data Unit
Speak, Listen & Draw Task Cards
Please check out the video preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!