It can be so difficult to keep kids engaged in the last weeks of the school year. Summer STEM challenges are here to the rescue!
The basic premise:
In partners/groups, students will design and build a water slide built for speed, thrills, and safety.
Multiple iterations are recommended to get the most student benefit, but this can also be treated as a one-off activity.
This challenge is available in the SUMMER STEM 5-in-1 BUNDLE at a savings of 33% off the cost of buying each challenge separately. What a bargain! ☺
This resource is also available in the STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE at an even greater discount!
Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:
- Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning
- 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 at least ~ 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. I recommend working on STEM Design Challenges in multiple iterations to get the full value.
Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
– 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
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Post-design extension activities list
- Criteria & Constraints List (editable version provided)
- Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included)
- Discussion Questions
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension
- Plus, a link to article on the physics of the world’s tallest water slide to use for close reading, writing summaries, etc. (Copyright rules prevent me from providing a print-friendly version, but I've included links to get Internet browser extensions to quickly accomplish this on your own)
Note: If you have purchased some of my non-holiday STEM challenges, this is a lighter – though not necessarily light – approach. Please download the preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!
You might also like these products:
Seasonal STEM Design Challenge 5-in-1 Bundles (grades 2 – 8):
Summer: Keep it Cool – Make it Melt
Summer: Drippin’ Dash
Summer: Amphibious Phone
St. Patrick’s Day
Or these great products:
Photosynthesis: Hands-on Modeling Activity
Analyze and Interpret Data Unit
New Earth City STEM Challenge
Card Towers STEM Challenge
Build a Boat STEM Challenge