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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.)
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.
This is one of five Halloween STEM Challenges. They can be purchased in a bundle at a 40% discount:
This resource is also available in the STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE at an even greater discount!
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.
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)
• 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)
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- Links to a video walk-through of the challenge & my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges (challenge video will post Oct. 6, 2016)
- Premise & Set-up
- Materials and timing
- Modifying Criteria & Constraints to adjust challenge difficulty
- Measuring results
- Post-design extension activities list & links
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
- 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?
“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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