This boat building STEM / STEAM Challenges is the perfect end of the year activity, or for summer – or any time of the year! Bring 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.)
Modifications included for grades 2-8.
Note: This version is for use with Google Slides in 1:1/paperless classrooms. If you prefer to print and have students complete work with paper/pencil, you'll want to look at the PRINTABLE VERSION 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”/PD videos
- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Post-design extension activities list
- Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Slides Post-design extension activities list
- Criteria & Constraints List (two editable versions provided)
- Design Analysis
- Discussion Questions
- Class-wide Data Analysis Activity
- Graph Class Data
- Calculate Boat Speed
- Design Your Own Sailboat experiment (with sample answers)
- Design Report
- Create Your Own Word Problems
- Process Flow Maps
The Thanksgiving"Mini Mayflower" version of this challenge is included as part of this purchase!
Please download the preview for sample pages, and feel free to contact me with any questions!
CLICK THE GREEN PREVIEW BUTTON UNDER THE COVER & THUMBNAILS TO SEE THE SLIDES INCLUDED IN THIS RESOURCE!
(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 ~60-90 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? Comments taken from the print version.
“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!”
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⭐ Back to School STEM Challenge Bundle: 1:1 PAPERLESS Version
Please check out the preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!