Christmas STEM Challenge Activity - Candy Cane Calamity

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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
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Christmas STEM Activities are perfect to engage your students in brain-busting work disguised as fun this winter!

Candy Cane Calamity Christmas STEM Challenge Activity Premise:

Working against a criteria/constraints list individually or in partners, students will design and build a way to safely “mail” two candy canes in one paper bag package without breakage. (Note: cookies can be substituted for candy canes.)


Note: This is the printable version, though you can upload the editable handouts to Google Slides™ if desired. However, if you are in a 1:1 / paperless classroom, you may prefer the digital option designed specifically 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.


Resource includes:

NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8

Teacher Tips

  • Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
  • Materials and timing
  • Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
  • Measuring results
  • Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Handouts Post-design extension activities list
  • Link to a video walk-through of the challenge

EDITABLE Student Handouts

  • Criteria & Constraints List (in color and black & white)
  • Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included) (in color and black & white)
  • Discussion Questions (in color and B&W)

Extension templates

  • Shipping research activity (editable)
  • Physical vs. Chemical changes notes & activity (editable; answer key provided)
  • Process Flow Map
  • Math Extension


This is one of five Winter / Christmas STEM Challenge Activities. They can be purchased in a bundle at a discount:

Winter and Christmas STEM Challenge Activities Bundle (2nd – 8th)

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.)

  • Candy canes (2) [Cookies can be substituted for candy canes]
  • Paper bag
  • Pipe cleaners (5 – 10)
  • Popsicle/craft sticks (5 – 10)
  • Tape (12 in.)
  • Scissors
  • Scale (to measure weight criterion)


• Tissue paper, coffee filters, or cotton balls

• Balloons

• String, cable ties

• Cardboard


What do teachers have to say about this resource?

“My students loved completing this challenge! They enjoyed the friendly competition in creating a package that would withstand the bumps and I appreciated the reflective pieces included to spark some meaningful conversation. Thanks!”

“This was so much fun!! It made our Christmas party memorable!!”

“Another easy to use STEM activity that my kids loved!”

“My students really loved this activity. It was a great real world issue for them to solve.”

“I can't wait to use this with my first graders! They love STEM and this is one project that is completely accessible to them. LOVE IT! :)”


You might also like these resources:

STEM Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):


Winter and Christmas STEM Challenge Activities Bundle (2nd – 8th)

Snow Scoop Winter STEM Activity

Frosted Forest Winter STEM Activity

Thanksgiving STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle

Valentine’s Day STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle

Analyze and Interpret Data Unit

Getting Started with STEM Challenges FREEBIE


Please check out the video preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!


Video preview music credit:

"Carefree" Kevin MacLeod (

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Total Pages
24 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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