Summer or End of the Year STEM Activity - Keep it Cool - Make it Melt

Rated 4.91 out of 5, based on 85 reviews
85 Ratings
Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
35 pages
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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching

What educators are saying

My kids enjoyed this a lot! The structures didn't work as well as the pizza box solar ovens I've done in the past, but it was easier to prep and implement.
This was a great resource for a summer STEM camp. It was organized and my students really enjoyed it. Thank you!
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This summer STEM activity is the perfect end of year STEM Challenge 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).

Includes modifications 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 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.


Resource includes:

NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8

Teacher Tips

- 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

Student Handouts

- Criteria & Constraints List (editable; in color and black & white)

- Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included) (editable; in color and black & white; one set for Keep it Cool and another set for Make it Melt)

- Observation Log Handouts (editable; 2 pages to record changes to chocolate in the control, Keep it Cool and Make it Melt designs)

- Discussion Questions (editable; in color and B&W)

Extension templates

- Process Flow Map

- Create Math Problems Based on Designs

- States of Matter Research Log Template


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. )

Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

– 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 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?

“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:

STEM Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):

Summer STEM Bundle

Back-to-School STEM Bundle


Getting Started with STEM Challenges FREEBIE

Back-to-School STEM Challenge Bundle

End of Year / Summer: Amphibious Phone

End of Year / Summer: Wicked-Fast Water Slide

End of Year / Summer: Pick & Pack

End of Year / Summer: Drippin’ Dash

Card Towers STEM Challenge

Build a Boat STEM Challenge

New Earth City STEM Challenge

Or these great resources:

Photosynthesis: Hands-on Modeling Activity

Analyze and Interpret Data Unit

Speak, Listen & Draw Task Cards


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.


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