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Looking for Valentine’s Day activities that your students will love but are more than just a craft or activity to pass the time? This Valentine’s STEM Challenge (or STEAM Challenge) will keep your students engaged in brain-busting work disguised as fun!
The basic premise:
Working against a criteria/constraints list individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build the smallest container possible to house a candy assortment.
– “Confection Container” alternative: students will design and build the smallest container possible to house one or more cupcakes (keeping frosting on the cupcakes, not the box!)
– Because this can be treated as two separate challenges, two criteria/constraints lists have been provided: one for candy and another for confection (cupcake).
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 (TM) instead.
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Handouts Post-design extension activities list
- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
- Criteria and Constraints list (Two editable versions in color and black & white provided)
- Design Analysis (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included in color and B&W)
- Discussion Questions (in color and B&W)
- Shipping box and Delivery Truck Exercise (editable)
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension
This is one of five challenges available in the Valentine’s Day STEM Challenge bundle at a 40% discount!
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.)
– Assortment of candy (4 – 8 pieces). A variety of shapes is desired.
• “Confection Container” Alternative: one or more cupcakes
– Cardboard/cardstock (paper plates, cereal boxes, Valentine’s cards boxes, etc.)
– Craft sticks (5-10)
– Pipe cleaners (5 – 10)
– Tape (24 in.)
– Copies of data recording & analyzing handouts
• Valentine’s decorations (lace, ribbons, hearts, etc.) or construction paper, markers, and glue
• Tissue paper
• Small paper cups
• Straws (5 – 10)
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?
“Extremely thorough, well written resource. Fun and engaging!”
“Well thought out and easy to implement. I'm actually using this to go along with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
You might also like these resources:
STEM Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):
Please check out the video preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!
Video preview music credit:
"Carefree" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License