STEM Hands On Science Investigations: Column Challenge

Grade Levels
4th - 6th
Formats Included
  • PDF
11 pages
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This STEM task is geared toward helping the intermediate level student develop key science/engineering “thinking skills” that will help build the foundation for more complicated scientific learning. As new science standards are implemented, “engineering” plays a prominent role—even at the elementary level!

This lesson can be done in two or three class periods--3 if you if you wish to allow the students to go back and revisit their columns.

Supplies are readily available—white copy paper, paperclips, glue, and scissors!

Get creative and have fun!

What do students need to do?

Your task is to work collaboratively as “column engineers” to build the strongest column possible using only the materials listed below. You do not need to use all the materials, but you may not use anything else. You will be allowed to build 3 columns for your team to test. They may all have the same design or they may have different designs.

Your column must stand alone with no supports and may not lean against anything. You will have to be able to move your column to the testing station so it must be durable and portable. You will measure how much weight your column can support before it tips or crumples.


Looking for other science resources?

How about a different STEM Challenge? Try the TOWER TASK!

Need a resource to help you teach ELECTRICITY?

How about the SKELETAL SYSTEM?


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Total Pages
11 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
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.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
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.


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