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.
*** 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
- 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 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. )
– 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
– 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
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.
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!