Groundhog Day STEM Activity

Rated 4.92 out of 5, based on 26 reviews
26 Ratings
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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Looking for Groundhog Day activities that are more than just an activity? This STEM / STEAM challenge will make you wonder why you ever though Groundhog Day wasn't worth celebrating!

The basic premise:

In groups, students will create groundhog shadows, searching for the perfect combinations of light source angles, distances, and even groundhog accessories to meet the specified shadow criteria & constraints. Shadows will be traced and and turned into street art/graffiti. (Includes modifications, grades 2-8.)

Be sure to check out the preview to get a sense of your extension options!


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.


Resource includes:

NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8

Teacher Tips

- Links to a video walk-through of the challenge & my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges

- Premise & Set-up

- Materials and timing

- Modifying Criteria & Constraints to adjust challenge difficulty

- Measuring results

- Post-design extension activities list & links

Student Handouts

- Two sizes of groundhog templates

- Two versions of editable data tables, including student-facing video instructions (~2 min. each) for both versions.

- Criteria and Constraints list (editable; in color and B&W)

- Design Analysis Handouts (editable; 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 (editable; in color and B&W)

Extension templates

- Process flow map

- Create & solve math problems based on designs

- Links to "clean" real-world graffiti examples

- Shadow Mysteries activities (editable)

- 3 Mini Shadow Challenges (could be done instead of the main activity; editable)

- 3 Mini Shadow Labs: students use the scientific method to isolate and test shadow-making variables (editable; comes with sample answer keys)

- Graffiti writing templates


This is one of five challenges available in the Late Winter STEM Challenge bundle at a ~40% discount!

This resource is also available in the STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE at an even greater discount!


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:

• Light source (flashlights or the flashlight app, if students have cell phones)

• Paper for shadow tracing (use butcher paper, poster board, or copy paper)

• Groundhog cutouts (included)

• Construction paper

• Craft sticks/Pipe Cleaners (4 – 6)

• For groundhog template handles and optional accessories

• Masking tape (~12 - 24 in.)

• Measuring Tape / Yard stick

• Protractors (if measuring light source angles)

• Scissors

• Markers


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:


Christmas/Winter STEM Design Challenge: 5-in-1 Bundle

Snow Scoop

Frosted Forest

Valentine’s Day STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle

Analyze and Interpret Data Unit

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.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.


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