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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:
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 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!
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
- 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: Halloween Clipart & Candy-only 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 for both challenge goals: launch distance & accuracy)
- Discussion Questions
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension
Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
• 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
- 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.
What are teachers saying about Treat Toss?
"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!”
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