Looking for St. Patrick’s Day activities that your students will love but are more than just a craft or activity to pass the time? This St. Patrick’s STEM Challenge (or STEAM Challenge) will keep your students engaged in brain-busting work disguised as fun!
The basic premise:
Individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a device to rid Ireland of snakes as quickly and safely as possible.
– Snakes (10 – 20) will be spread over a map of Ireland (three map options are provided). Student devices must lift snakes from Ireland and drop them in the surrounding ocean.
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.
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Handouts Post-design extension activities list
- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
- Criteria & Constraints List (in color and B&W; editable)
- Results and Design Analysis (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included in color and black & white; editable)
- Map of Ireland (three choices provided in color and B&W)
- Discussion Questions (color and B&W; editable)
- Snake Research Log (editable)
- Camouflage & Mimicry Research Log (editable)
- Writing templates
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension
St. Patrick’s Day STEM Challenge bundle at a 40% discount!
This resource is also available in the STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE at an even greater discount!
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.)
– Variety of snakes. (10 – 30)
• Gummy worms, Licorice, rotini noodles (raw or cooked), plastic snakes, twisted pipe cleaners, etc.
• Note: there is an option in the challenge to mix in other “creatures” with the snakes to add difficulty. You may elect to designate some of the materials listed above or select new ones.
– Craft sticks (5 – 10)
– Pipe cleaners (5 - 10)
– String/yarn (12 – 24 in.)
– Straws (5 – 10)
– Tape (12 - 24 in.)
– Rubber bands (5 - 10)
– Second timer
– Design analysis handouts (included)
– Map of Ireland (Included)
• Place in sheet protectors or laminate (optional)
• Small cups or bowls
• Blue paper (ocean surrounding Ireland)
• Clothespins or binder clips (3 – 5)
• Paperclips (10 – 20)
• Toothpicks (10 – 20)
Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:
- Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning
- Helps students develop growth mindset traits like persistence and resilience
- 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 ~60 min. if you are including data gathering and analysis rather than just building for fun. If you add extension activities, you will need to adjust timing accordingly.
What do teachers have to say about this resource?
“One of my students favorite activities from the year.”
“Great idea for St. Patrick's Day to go beyond the gold and leprechauns and get to the meaning behind the holiday. Love your work! Thanks!”
“My students LOVED this activity! So much fun!”
“This is an incredible resource. I already started planning for March 17 and cant wait to use it!”
“Great for St. Patrick's Day! Our kids really enjoyed these while keeping their minds engaged!”
You might also like these resources:
Please check out the video preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!
Video preview music credit:
"Carefree" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License