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:
In partners or groups, students work against a criteria and constraints list to build a low-energy machine to toss treats. The teacher chooses from one of two challenge goals: maximum launch distance and/or target-accuracy.
This challenge is a great introduction to simple machines, particularly levers!
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 candy-only/non-Halloween version is now included!
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
Halloween Paperless STEM Challenge Bundle
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)
- Data Recording for Launch Distance & Accuracy Design Analysis
- Discussion Questions
- Process flow map
- Create & solve math problems based on designs
- Related video slides
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.)
• Wrapped candy
– Small candies like Hershey’s Kisses are easier to launch and easy to locate post-launch. You may want to provide more than one option.
• Candy target/container (A printable target is included if you select the target-accuracy goal, but a Halloween-themed candy bowl is also fun!)
• Clothespins (1-2)
• Rubber bands (5-20 per student/group)
• Popsicle sticks/tongue depressors/craft sticks/pencils/wooden rulers/small scrap wood pieces (10 – 20)
• Something (or multiple things) to act as a fulcrum (markers, batteries, spice bottles, etc.)
• Tape (constrain to 24 in. or less)
• Tape measure
• Copies of data recording & analyzing handouts
– Small cups
– Pipe cleaners
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.
"Loved using this last year and can't wait to implement it again this year!"
“Excellent!! This really got kids thinking, being creative, and analyzing their choices!”
“This was our first stem challenge. We've done two now. Perfect activity for the holidays. It's so fun, but requires critical thinking. Used in an SDC 3rd/4th grade classroom-students worked in groups. Looking forward to more of these challenges. Thank you!”
“This was an amazing activity, perfect for the last day of school before Halloween. It kept my 5th graders engaged and thinking the entire time. I loved the reactions I got from them when something worked or didn't work. I will be purchasing your activities in the future!”
You might also like these resources:
Back-to-School STEM Bundle
STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE
Thanksgiving STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle
Twilight Zone Plot Diagram, Summary, and Writing Activities (5th– 8th)
Analyze and Interpret Data Unit
Speak, Listen & Draw Task Cards
Please check out the preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!