STEM Activity Hoop Glider Challenge

Vivify STEM
Grade Levels
1st - 10th
Formats Included
  • PDF (27 pages)
  • Compatible with 
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The hoop glider STEM activity includes building a glider made from straw, tape, and index cards or paper to travel the farthest distance. Different activity versions are provided to accommodate student ability and time constraints.

Click here for an editable STEM journal to use with distance learning, including digital and printable versions.

Topics Covered:

  • Scientific Method through Variable Testing
  • Engineering Design Process
  • Forces of Flight
  • Ratios

This hands-on activity shows students how to optimize an engineering design through systematically testing variables. Students will learn how to build a standard hoop glider out of straws and paper, conduct testing, and then change different variables to determine the effect on flying distance.

Lower Elementary: Younger students use the engineering design process student handouts to design a hoop glider to travel the farthest distance. This activity is teacher-led and uses trial and error in testing.

Upper Elementary: Students use the engineering design process to build and test a hoop glider. Teachers can extend the learning by testing one or two variables as a class or in partners.

Middle School: Students use the full activity guide to test 5 variables in building a hoop glider compared to the standard glider. Students will try different numbers of hoops, lengths of straws, distance between hoops, and hoop diameters (including ratios between hoops).

Included in this product:

  • Teachers guide with links to resources
  • Science behind hoop gliders
  • Student design sheets including "compact version" with engineering design handouts or "expanded version" for testing 5 different hoop glider variables
  • Engineering design posters
  • STEM Career Connection: Aerospace Engineering
  • Reflection questions

Looking for more STEM lessons? Find the Vivify resource guide here:

About STEM Challenges: Click here to learn more about the 3 Stages of STEM. STEM challenges are an engaging way to incorporate the engineering design process into your classroom or afterschool program! These hands-on activities allow students to work in teams, apply the engineering design process, and connect science topics to real-world applications. The teacher will provide the structure to the project, but students will take an active role in designing and building their own device.

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Total Pages
27 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Use proportional relationships to solve multistep ratio and percent problems. Examples: simple interest, tax, markups and markdowns, gratuities and commissions, fees, percent increase and decrease, percent error.
Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities.
Compute unit rates associated with ratios of fractions, including ratios of lengths, areas and other quantities measured in like or different units. For example, if a person walks 1/2 mile in each 1/4 hour, compute the unit rate as the complex fraction ½/¼ miles per hour, equivalently 2 miles per hour.
Use ratio reasoning to convert measurement units; manipulate and transform units appropriately when multiplying or dividing quantities.
Find a percent of a quantity as a rate per 100 (e.g., 30% of a quantity means 30/100 times the quantity); solve problems involving finding the whole, given a part and the percent.


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