STEM Activity Index Card Tower Challenge

Grade Levels
3rd - 5th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
35 pages
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This Easy Prep Index Card STEM Activity is surprisingly challenging! It will give your students such a fantastic engineering opportunity to think through the problems and solve them. The best part is that your prep includes one basic material and the kids take over from there. Just stand back and watch them brainstorm and build incredibly tall towers. They will groan when the tower falls and then dive right back in and build it again. Be ready for cheering when it works!

Please note: This challenge is available in money-saving bundles!

What is the challenge?

This STEM activity will have your students designing and constructing a tower made with two supplies. They will have to work together and revise constantly. Their initial thinking will be challenged as they see their efforts collapse (literally) and then they will go back to the drawing board.

The Teacher's Guide

The lesson guide provides a materials list and then step-by-step procedures to follow to make this a great experience. Helpful hints are embedded throughout the teacher's guide to help you plan. Two versions of lab sheets are provided (with sample student answers). Two pages of photos will guide the use of the package. A page of Extensions gives ideas of continuing the activity as a whole class or in your science/math centers.

What is your prep?

Materials needed in addition to this package include index cards, masking tape, and scissors. The tape is optional. This challenge has the easiest set-up! Copy the lab sheet of your choice, hand each team a set of sheets, and a stack of cards.

The package specifically contains:

  • Cover
  • Teacher Background page
  • Materials and Preparation page
  • 4 pages of Step-by-Step Procedures
  • Extensions page
  • 2 versions of Lab sheets with sample student answers
  • 2 pages of Photos
  • Bonus challenge to try at Christmas Time with a Santa Tower!
  • Terms of Use page

PLEASE NOTE: This challenge pack contains a bonus lesson! Check the preview to see the Santa Tower Challenge. It is an index card tower challenge with something added to the top. This is perfect for use at Christmas time! Directions, helpful hints, constraints, lab sheet, and photos of the Santa Tower are all now included with this package.

What are teachers saying?

  • "This activity was so much fun! The student groups had a lot of fun and they learned to problem solve, listen to each other and work together. Our tallest structure was almost 4 feet tall and did not use tape! It was fascinating to watch them construct it. Thank you for this activity."
  • "Thank you for all the detail included with this activity. Easy and fun to use!"
  • "What a great STEM challenge! My students loved this activity and worked well in groups too! I love how everything is provided for you and laid out in a clear manner. Great work!"

This activity can be completed as a stand-alone challenge. OR it can be used with two additional packages (STEM Challenges about Towers) also available in my store:

Note: Grab all three tower challenges in money-saving bundles:

NOTE: A simplified version of this challenge is included in STEM at Home:


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Total Pages
35 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.


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