Earth Day STEM Challenge: New Earth City PAPERLESS VERSION

Rated 5 out of 5, based on 6 reviews
6 Ratings
Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
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Earth Day is the perfect time for the New Earth City STEM / STEAM challenge activity with your class, but any other time of the year will do!

The basic premise:
It is Earth Day, and the year 2035. Earth has become overcrowded. The students are part of a pioneering crew tasked with setting up the first city (New Earth City) on Planetopia, a fictional name for a recently discovered Earth-like planet in a distant solar system. Part of the mission is to set up the city to prevent or address the problems we are having on Earth so we don’t repeat our errors on our new home planet.
– This challenge is best done in teams or partners due to time and space constraints.

Modifications included for grades 2-8.


Note: This version is for use with Google Slides in 1:1/paperless classrooms. If you prefer to print and have students complete work with paper/pencil, you'll want to look at the PRINTABLE VERSION 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 STEM Challenge “How-to”/PD videos
- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Post-design extension activities list
- Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Slides Post-design extension activities list

Student Slides
- Criteria & Constraints List (editable version provided)
- Design Analysis
- Data Measurement / Recording Data (3 versions -- Version 1: measure length, width, and height and find perimeter; Version 2: same as version 1 with area added; Version 3: same as Version 2 with volume added)
- Discussion Questions

Extension slides
- Process flow map
- Create & solve math problems based on designs
- Measuring & Classifying triangles from New Earth City


This resource is also available in the following discounted bundles:
Planetopia Project STEM Challenge Bundle - PAPERLESS VERSION
STEM Challenges: Year-Round Mega Bundle PAPERLESS VERSION
The Ultimate STEM Challenge Mega Bundle


Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified. )

- 12 x 12 in. cardboard or foam board (serves as a parcel of Planetopia land. Feel free to go larger, but smaller is tough for students to manage)
- Plastic shopping bags (5)
- Pipe cleaners (12 – 24)
- Craft sticks (5 – 10)
- Paper or note cards
- Scissors
- Yarn or string
- Rulers
- Tape (24 – 26 in.)
- Data Measurement & Design Analysis handouts (included)
- Water or soda bottle lids
- Small cups
- Clay and/or foil
- Coffee stirrers
- Rubber bands
- Glue
- Markers


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 ~60-90 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?
Note: Comments taken from the print version.

“This is my absolute favorite of all the STEM challenges that I have done! So TAKE ALL MY MONEY! I love everything you do! Thank you for helping me keep my students engaged and learning difficult science concepts in a fun an exciting way! YOU are the BEST!- Carmen”
“I love that you've designed challenges to address special holidays and celebrations! This challenge can easily extend beyond STEM and into a great inquiry project.”

“Great resource! It's also very organized and detailed.”

“This is a great piece and offers options for differentiation.”

“Amazing set. A great range of activities for different grade levels. I love it. I'll be a regular customer from now on. Thanks for the great work.”


You might also like these resources:


Getting Started with STEM Challenges FREEBIE

Valentine’s Day STEM Bundle

St. Patrick’s Day STEM Bundle

Christmas-Winter STEM Bundle

Thanksgiving STEM Bundle

Halloween STEM Bundle

Back-to-School STEM Bundle

Analyze and Interpret Data Unit

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

Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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