Christmas STEM Challenge: Candy Cane Calamity Print and Paperless Bundle

Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Formats Included
  • Various file types
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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).
    Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
    Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
    Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
    Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
    Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.


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