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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:
In partners/groups, students will design and build a water slide built for speed, thrills, and safety.
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)
- Discussion Questions (in color and B&W)
- Process Flow Map
- Create Math Problems Based on Designs
- Forces Research Log
- Forces Research Applied to Student Re-Design template (editable)
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. )
– Paper-towel and/or toilet paper cardboard tubes and/or cardboard scraps
• Distribute as evenly as possible. If you don’t have much cardboard, tighten the height constraint to 12 in.
– Foil, wax paper, or plastic wrap (~24 sq. in.)
– Straws (5 – 10)
– Pipe cleaners (5 – 10)
– Plastic beads or marbles (6)
– Small bowls and/or cups (1 – 3)
– Tape (24 – 36 in.)
– Yarn (24 – 36 in.)
– Bottle of water
– Stopwatch (at least one per class is needed)
– Design analysis handouts (included)
• Craft sticks
• Rubber bands
• Paper towels (for clean up)
• Blue food coloring for the water
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?
“This was a fantastic find for the last week of school. I did a shortened version of this with my 6th and 7th graders and they went crazy over it! They loved the build and then after we tested I let them destroy (the water started the process) and they thought it was awesome. Thank you for creating such a great resource that could be used with many different grade levels.”
“I loved using this with my summer camp kids. Easily adaptable so that you can use the whole thing or only use parts of it.”
“My students absolutely loved this!! The project was excellent and the questions evoked critical thinking skills.”
“I used this right before school was out and my students absolutely loved it! Many said it was their favorite STEM project of the year!”
“Amazing!! My kiddos loved this project and it gave them something worthy to do in that all too famous "last week of school" chaos. Not just an activity where they just color and do busy work, this was definitely worth it. Highly recommend this product. Thank you!”
“Super fun!! My 3rd graders were so excited AND competitive!”
You might also like these resources:
STEM Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):
Or these great resources: