This tower 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)!
If you have spare index cards, at least 30 minutes, and a class to inspire, run this challenge as a fun, quick task for a rainy day, or select from multiple options provided to add depth and rigor to extend this activity to days or weeks of active learning!
The basic premise:
Individually, or in partners/groups, students work against a criteria and constraints list to build a tower designed for height and/or stability. You can choose to run the challenge as a single 20-30 minute fun building task, or select from multiple options to add layers of depth and rigor. (Please see the downloadable preview to get an idea of your options.)
Note: Included in this resource is the regular "anytime" version and the Valentine's Day Cards in the Clouds version.
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)
- Design Your Own Tower Experiment (editable & with sample answers)
- Design Report
- Create Your Own Word Problems
- Process Flow Maps
Detailed Teacher Guide
The Valentine’s Day ">"Cards in the Clouds" 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!
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:
For each student or group:
– 20 or more 3x5 index cards (or substitute business cards, card stock, or poster board)
– Tape (constrain to 12 in. or less)
– Rulers/measuring tapes (tip: pick up paper measuring tapes from Ikea)
– Copies of data recording & analyzing handouts
– Optional: Scissors, pipe cleaners
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?
“Not only was the project fun, but the extensions were awesome as well!”
“My kids loved doing this. Very easy prep!”
“My kids loved this challenge and the materials were extremely helpful. I also really enjoyed watching your videos on the YouTube channel. Thanks for sharing your hard work. It has really helped me as a first year teacher!”
“Love, love your STEM products.”
“Excited to incorporate this activity into my next lesson! Awesome resource, user friendly, as well!”
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!