Create-ure Spring STEM Challenge Activity

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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
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50 pages
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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
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If you’re looking to apply learning in adaptations, habitats, food chains and food webs, life cycles, genetics & heredity, evolution, and/or human body systems, this STEM or STEAM challenge is a perfectly engaging way to get the job done joyfully!

It’s the perfect Halloween or spring STEM activity, but it works any time of the year to connect to your life science standards!

The basic premise:

Students work in individually or in partners or groups against a list of criteria and constraints to create a create-ure that has never been seen or imagined before.


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

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.

This resource is also available in the following discounted bundles:

Planetopia Project STEM Challenge Bundle
STEM Challenges: Year-Round Mega Bundle
The Ultimate STEM Challenge Mega Bundle


Resource includes:

NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8

Teacher Tips

  • Links to a video walk-through of the challenge & my STEM Challenge PD video series
  • Premise & Set-up
  • Materials and timing
  • Modifying Criteria & Constraints to adjust challenge difficulty
  • Measuring results
  • Post-design extension activities list & links

EDITABLE Student Handouts

  • Criteria and Constraints list
  • Design Analysis Handouts (in color and B&W in two versions: 4-page expanded room for response and 2-page condensed space version for older students)
  • Discussion Questions

Extension templates

  • Process flow map
  • Create & solve math problems based on designs
  • Life Science Folder/Booklet Project templates (editable):
  • General Information
  • Feature Spotlight
  • Life Cycle
  • Where in the World? (Habitats)
  • Food Chain / Food Web
  • Animal Classification
  • Geologic Time Scale
  • Genetics / Heredity
  • Evolution
  • Body Systems Compare/Contrast


Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified. I’ve done the challenge with nothing more than newspaper, tape, and pipe cleaners and it worked well. However, as with all challenges, the more varied the materials, the more varied the designs!

Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

  • Newspaper or tissue paper
  • Construction paper
  • Craft sticks
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Sequins
  • Yarn
  • Pom poms
  • Googly eyes
  • Paint
  • Feathers
  • Toothpicks
  • Scissors
  • Foil
  • Cotton
  • Felt
  • Sand paper
  • Glue
  • Masking tape
  • Hot glue guns
  • Plastic wrap or sandwich baggies
  • Uncooked noodles, rice, and/or beans
  • Design analysis handouts (included)


Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:

  • Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning
  • 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 approximately 60 – 90 min. if you are including data gathering and analysis rather than just building for fun. I recommend working on STEM Design Challenges in multiple iterations to get the full value.


You may also like these products:

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Oral and Written Communication Skills Task Cards: Halloween


Video preview music credit:

"Carefree" Kevin MacLeod (

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Total Pages
50 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.
Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. Examples of structures could include thorns, stems, roots, colored petals, heart, stomach, lung, brain, and skin. Assessment is limited to macroscopic structures within plant and animal systems.


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