Summer / End of the Year STEM Challenge: Keep it Cool - Make it Melt PAPERLESS

Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
35 pages
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This summer STEM challenge is the perfect end of the year activity to keep your students engaged through the very last day of school!

The basic premise:

In partners or groups, students will design and build two devices: one to slow the melting process (Keep it Cool) and one to speed it up (Make it Melt).

Modifications included for grades 2-8.

*This challenge is perfect for addressing NGSS standards for energy and structure & properties of matter. See related standards list at the end of the resource description.


Note: This version is for use with Google Slides™ in 1:1/paperless classrooms. If you prefer to print and have students complete work with paper/pencil, you'll want to look at the PRINTABLE VERSION 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.


This is one of five Summer / End of the Year STEM Challenges. They can be purchased in a bundle at a 40% discount:

Summer / End of the Year PAPERLESS STEM Challenge Bundle


Resource includes:

NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8

Teacher Tips

- Links to STEM Challenge “How-to”/PD videos

- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge

- Materials and timing

- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)

- Measuring results

- Post-design extension activities list

- Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Slides Post-design extension activities list

Student Slides

- Criteria & Constraints List (editable version provided)

- Observation Log Handouts

- Design Analysis

- Discussion Questions

Extension slides

- Process Flow Map

- Create Math Problems Based on Designs

- States of Matter Research Log

- Related video & website slides




Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.)

– Hershey bars (give each group three rectangles - ¼ of the bar - for testing)

• Hershey bars are ideal because it is easy to observe changes as the chocolate becomes shiny, the lettering fades, and lines become wavy.

• Ice cubes can be substituted, but try to ensure they are equal in size.

– Small cups (1-2)

– Foil (~12 sq. in.)

– Plastic baggies or plastic wrap (1 – 2)

– Pipe cleaners (4 – 6)

– String/yarn (12 – 24 in.)

– Cardboard scraps

– Cotton balls (3 – 6)

• Tissue, paper towels, or toilet paper can be substituted

– Scissors

– Tape (12 – 24 In.)

– Design analysis handouts (included)

– Observation handouts (included)


• Thermometers

• Markers & Construction paper

• Rubber bands

• Clothespins

• Stopwatches

• Cameras to capture changes over time


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 ~60-90 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?

Note: Comments taken from the print version.

“Great resource. Easy to follow detailed instructions with photos. The link to an instructional video was really helpful. Different activities for different grade levels. I highly recommend this.”

“This was a great STEM activity! My students were very engaged and worked very hard. Thank you!”

“Great activity! Summer camp kiddos loved it”

“Oh my goodness! My kiddos LOVED this! I do a chocolate unit at the end of the school year with a read aloud, and this was a perfect addition to that! Thank you!”

“Before I have my students do this, I had my own children (age 7 and 11) do this and they LOVED it!”


You might also like these resources:
Back to School STEM Challenge Bundle: 1:1 PAPERLESS Version
Create-ure STEM Challenge: PAPERLESS VERSION
Earth Day STEM Challenge: New Earth City PAPERLESS VERSION
Plants STEM Challenge: PAPERLESS Version
Winter STEM Challenge Bundle 1:1 Paperless Version
Easter STEM Challenge Bundle Paperless Version


Please check out the preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!


Related NGSS Standards for Energy and Structure & Properties of Matter:










Total Pages
35 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
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.


Questions & Answers

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