Paper Engineering: 7 Quick and Easy STEM Challenges

Paper Engineering: 7 Quick and Easy STEM Challenges
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Searching for quick and easy challenges for your students? Here are seven engineering challenges that are all paper-based. Each challenge includes rules, and a list of the necessary materials and tools.

  • The primary material in every challenge is paper. Students never need tape or glue. Other materials that are useful include: large washers (as weights), tape measure or yardstick for determining winners, and a bucket/tub to hold water.
  • The tools I allow students to use are the same for every challenge: pencil, ruler, and scissors. One challenge allows students to use a stapler.

These are challenges I have used with my 6th grade students, and so I also include insider tips for every challenge. These tips provide insight into the challenges, and they clarify how to judge certain challenges. I do not provide these tips to my students ahead of the challenge, but I do often talk about them at the end of the class period.

My class periods are 49 minutes long, and so I typically gave students/partners 30 minutes to complete the challenge, which left 10-15 minutes to test/judge their creations. The time limit can easily be adjusted based on the length of your class periods, however, I don't recommend giving students more than 30 minutes because these challenges are relatively simple (rather than complex) and therefore don't require much time.

Looking for something a little more robust? Check out the Lego Zip Line challenge!

Total Pages
7 pages
Answer Key
Does not apply
Teaching Duration
45 minutes
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