Also included in
- These Back-to-School STEM / STEAM challenges are a great way to build community, establish procedures, and get to know how your kids tick! Plus, they’re a great intro to forces and interactions and Newton’s three laws of motion, which are part of 3rd, 5th grade and middle school NGSS standards! (3P$9.98$19.90Save $9.92
- This back-to-school STEM / STEAM Challenge brings the joy back to your classroom with collaborative, hands-on, brain-busting work (disguised as fun)! This challenge is also great for any time of year, but especially in the fall when learning about apples, Johnny Appleseed, or Sir Isaac Newton!The ba$5.98$7.96Save $1.98
- Super-charge your STEM class with 52 high-engagement, critical thinking, problem-solving, NGSS-aligned challenges to take you through the entire year! Modifications are included to make these activities engaging and challenging for students in grades 2 - 8. (Two of the 52 challenges are included in$102.98$204.77Save $101.79
This back-to-school STEM / STEAM Challenge brings the joy back to your classroom with collaborative, hands-on, brain-busting work (disguised as fun)! This challenge is also great for any time of year, but especially in the fall when learning about apples, Johnny Appleseed, or Sir Isaac Newton!
The basic premise:
In groups, students will design and build a wearable device to balance an apple on their heads, which they will use to participate in an Apples A-head relay race.
– Students will design their headwear in groups, but each will make his/her own (to minimize any lice concerns). They can decide as a team, and based on available materials, if each member will create unique designs or replicate the team design.
Note: This is the printable version. If you are in a 1:1 / paperless classroom, you will want to check out the digital option for use with GOOGLE SLIDES (TM) 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.
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- 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
- Criteria & Constraints List (color and black & white; editable version provided)
- Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included) (editable and in color and black & white)
- Discussion Questions (editable and in color and black & white)
- Process Flow Map
- Create Math Problems Based on Designs
- Apple writing templates
- Gravity research log
This is one of five challenges available at a discount in the Back-to-School STEM Challenge Bundle
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.
- Apple (1)
- Pencils (12 – 16)
- Rubber bands (10 – 20)
- Pocket folder with prongs (1)
- ------- File folder or pocket folder without prongs may be substituted
- Pipe cleaners (10 - 12)
- Paper lunch bags (2 – 3)
- Tape (24 – 36 in.)
- String or yarn (24 – 36 in.)
- Stopwatch or second timer
- Design analysis handouts (included)
- Craft sticks
- Cardboard scraps
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 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?
“I did this with my class today and they could not have raved more about it! The kids were so engaged....they didn't even realize how much engineering they were actually doing! I love how you have the link to the YouTube video as well. It really helped me, as a teacher, to organize myself to teach this lesson! Thank you so much for your hard work.”
“This was the most fun to watch and kids had to really think. We will be doing this every year!”
“Best STEM activity of the year so far....thanks!”
"This was the most fun to watch and kids had to really think. We will be doing this every year!"
"My students LOVED everything about this challenge. We did it at the beginning of the year and they are still talking about this project as well as the other ones I purchased along the same lines. So amazing! I'm sure we'll be doing these again!"
“Great way to extend Johnny Appleseed activities and get students thinking and working together.”
You might also like these resources:
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 (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License