Fall STEM Challenge - Apples A-head Print and Paperless Bundle

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    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 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 (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)

    Extension templates

    • Process Flow Map
    • Create Math Problems Based on Designs
    • Apple writing templates
    • Gravity research log


    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
    • Scissors
    • Design analysis handouts (included)


    • Craft sticks
    • Cardboard scraps
    • Paperclips
    • Foil


    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.”

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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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