Christmas STEM Challenge Activity - Candy Cane Calamity Print - Paperless Bundle

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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching

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    Christmas and Winter STEM Challenges are the perfect activities to engage your students in brain-busting work disguised as fun when they've got the winter crazies!

    The basic 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 resource includes both the printable version and the paperless option for use with GOOGLE SLIDES (TM) for 1:1 / paperless classroom.


    Resource includes:

    NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8

    Teacher Tips

    • 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

    Handouts & Google Slides(TM) Options for Student Recording & Reflecting

    • Criteria & Constraints List (editable)
    • Design Analysis (editable)
    • Discussion Questions (editable)

    Extension templates

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


    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 are teachers saying 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! :)”

    Total Pages
    Answer Key
    Teaching Duration
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    to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
    Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
    Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
    Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
    Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
    Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.


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