Halloween STEM Challenge Activity - Ghosts in the Graveyard

Rated 4.9 out of 5, based on 38 reviews
38 Ratings
Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
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37 pages
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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
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Halloween STEM Challenges are collaborative, brain-busting work disguised as fun! Ghosts in the Graveyard is from Bone Bridge® STEM Challenges and it's all about pulleys.

The basic premise:

Students work in partners or groups against a criteria & constraints list to create a ghost transporter that lifts cotton ball “ghosts” from the ground to the top of a pulley. (For younger students, the teacher will set up the pulley; for older students, the teacher will provide materials and students will include the pulley and attachment as part of their designs.)

This resource comes with a Grapes in the Vineyard version, so you can use this any time of year, without Halloween references.


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.


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

Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

  • Pulley system (dowel and ~6 ft. of rope). One per class or testing station will do. (See photos in “Measuring Results”)
  • Medium or large binder clip (1)
  • Small paper plates
  • Ghosts (cotton balls or marshmallows)
    • Amount depends on total materials provided, but at least one bag per class will be needed for testing.
    • Can substitute grapes, marbles, etc. for a non-Halloween version
    • If you have the time or an aide/volunteer, draw on ghost faces with a sharpie.

  • String, ribbon, or twine (2 – 3 yards)
  • Scissors


– Markers and extra rope (to make small pulleys at each student workstation)

– Tape (constrain to ~12 in.)

– Cable ties

– Pipe cleaners

– Coffee filters or foil

– Multiple sizes of binder clips

– Single hole punch

– Carabiner (alternate attachment for pulley)


Product 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

EDITABLE Student Handouts (Two sets: Ghosts Clipart & Grapes Clipart)

  • Criteria and Constraints List (editable versions provided)
  • Results and Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included)
  • Discussion Questions

Extension templates

  • Process Flow Map
  • Math Extension
  • Create a Ghost/Grape Character
  • Scary by the Senses (brainstorming sensory details to revise writing )


What are teachers saying about Ghosts in the Graveyard?

"This was a great activity! My 6th grade students had so much fun with this!"

"My after school club LOVED this!"

"A perfect introduction to a pulley system for my simple machines unit."

"This was my students' favorite STEM activity that we've done so far this year!"

"Great activity, very comprehensive in material, but easy to use."

"Definitely doing this every year!"

"I was very happy with this resource. I also appreciated that I could edit the handouts. We turned this into pumpkins in the patch fairly easily and used the pumpkin candy corn. The kids loved the challenge and I thought it was appropriate to use even for my gifted and talented students. Thank you!"


You may also like these products:

See more Bone Bridge® Halloween STEM Challenges

Twilight Zone Plot Diagram, Summary, and Writing Activities (5th– 8th)

Getting Started with STEM Challenges FREEBIE

Total Pages
37 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 hour
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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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