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Back to School STEM Challenge: Apples Afar

Back to School STEM Challenge: Apples Afar
Back to School STEM Challenge: Apples Afar
Back to School STEM Challenge: Apples Afar
Back to School STEM Challenge: Apples Afar
Back to School STEM Challenge: Apples Afar
Back to School STEM Challenge: Apples Afar
Back to School STEM Challenge: Apples Afar
Grade Levels
Product Rating
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File Type

Compressed Zip File

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8 MB|24 pages
Product Description
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, 5th grade and middle school NGSS standards! (3PS2-1, 5PS2-1, 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:

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.

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 40% 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:

– 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

Product includes:

NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8

Teacher Tips

- Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
- Link to short video description this challenge coming: July 28
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Post-design extension activities list

Student Handouts
- Criteria & Constraints List (editable version provided)
- Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included)
- Discussion Questions

Extension templates
- 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)
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension

Note: If you have purchased some of my non-holiday STEM challenges, this is a lighter – though not necessarily light – approach. Please download the preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!

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
Total Pages
24 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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Kerry Tracy




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