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It’s the end of the school year, so your end-of-year activities need to be on-point to keep kids engaged! This boat building STEM / STEAM Challenges is perfect for summer – or any time of the year! It brings the joy back to your classroom with collaborative, hands-on, brain-busting work (disguised as fun)!
The basic premise:
Individually, or in partners/groups, students work against a criteria and constraints list to build a boat that is designed for capacity and/or speed. You can choose to run the challenge as a single 20-30 minute fun building task to do on a rainy day, or select from multiple options to add layers of depth and rigor. (Please see the downloadable preview to get an idea of your options.)
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 (two versions in color and black & white; editable versions provided)
- Design Analysis Handouts (3-page regular spacing and 5-page expanded spacing for primary students included) (color and black & white)
- Discussion Questions (in color and B&W)
- Class-wide Data Analysis Activity (editable)
- Graph Class Data (editable)
- Calculate Boat Speed (editable)
- Design Your Own Sailboat experiment (editable & with sample answers)
- Design Report
- Create Your Own Word Problems
- Process Flow Maps
Detailed Teacher Guide
The Thanksgiving MINI MAYFLOWER version of this challenge is included as part of this purchase!
Please download the preview for sample student pages, and feel free to contact me with any questions!
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. )
At least one per class, if not one per student or group:
– Container filled with water to test the boats (be sure to choose a container with appropriate dimensions, or constrain students on length, width, height accordingly. For sailing tests, stream tables, under-bed-storage bins, or kiddie pools work well).
– Set of uniform objects to measure capacity (pennies, base-ten blocks, paperclips, balance weights, bouncy balls, etc.)
For each student or group:
– Clay, foil and/or wax paper sheets
– 3x5 cards, paper, coffee filters, etc.
– Tape (masking tape or packing tape perform best, constrain to 12 in. or less)
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?
“Just what I needed with all the rigor I was looking for in a STEM challenge.”
“Exactly what I needed for my engineering design vs scientific method lab.”
“Great variety of activities, super thorough, and wonderful built-in differentiation!”
“I can't wait to use this in my class. I really like the ideas for differentiating the level of difficulty for younger and older students. I think some of the ideas will work well for SPED students, too. More like this, please! Thanks!”
“I teach Kindergarten and used these as activity with our Grade 5/6 buddies. All the students loved it!”
“Did this engineering challenge with my middle school special ed classes. They loved it.”
“So clear, so straight forward! My kids loved doing this!! Thank you!!”
“I loved how this included a page for lower and a separate for upper grades! Made it easy to incorporate during enrichment!”
You might also like these resources:
STEM Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):
Or these great resources:
Please download the preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!