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This summer STEM challenge is the perfect end of year activity to keep your students engaged through the very last day of school!
The basic premise:
Individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a summer-proof* case for a smart phone. (No actual smart phones will be harmed in this activity; they’ll create weighted test phones!)
*Summer-proof = waterproof & retrievable when dropped in a body of water
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™ 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 STEM Challenge How-To videos
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Post-design extension activities list
- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
- Criteria & Constraints List (color and black & white; editable version provided)
- Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included) (color and black & white)
- Smartphone cut-outs (in color and B&W)
- Discussion Questions (in color and B&W)
- Process Flow Map
- Create Math Problems Based on Designs
- Classifying Animals Activity Templates
- Under-the-Sea Writing Activity Templates
This is one of five challenges available at a 40% discount in the Summer STEM Challenge 5-in-1 bundle
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. )
• Bucket/bin filled with water for testing (at least 1 per class needed)
• Weights (4 – 6 oz. per group)
If weights aren’t available, the following objects weigh approximately 4 -6 oz.:
• 112 – 168 paper clips
• 4 – 6 slices of bread
• 44 – 66 pennies
• 24 – 36 nickels
• Saran Wrap or fold-over sandwich bags (not Ziploc®)
• Scale (If no scale is available, remove weight constraint from challenge.)
• Cardboard scraps
• Envelopes (at least 3 x 5 in)
• Tape (12 in.)
• Yarn (36 – 48 inches)
• Rubber bands (3 – 5)
• Paper towels
• Phone cut-outs (included)
• Design analysis handouts (included)
• Pipe cleaners
• A variety of tape (duct, shipping, scotch, masking)
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.
You might also like these resources:
STEM Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):
Or these great resources: