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Looking for a fun Halloween activity that incorporates science, technology, engineering, and/or math? Halloween STEM / STEAM Challenges are collaborative, brain-busting work disguised as fun!
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.)
I received several requests to create a non-Halloween version of the student handouts to use at other times of the year or due to district rules regarding the holiday. A non-Halloween version is now included: Grapes in the Vineyard!
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.
This is one of five challenges available at a 40% discount in the
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 (editable version provided)
- Discussion Questions
- Process flow map
- Create & solve math problems based on designs
- Create a Ghost/Grape Character
- Scary by the Senses (brainstorming sensory details to revise writing )
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.)
• 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)
• Copies of data recording & analyzing handouts
– 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)
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.
“So much fun! It kept the kids engaged while they were counting down the minutes until they could go trick or treating.”
“Nicely thought out and they had fun!”
“Very fun and engaging.”
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Please check out the preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!