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 "M" in this STEM challenge should be an extra-large capital letter, because it is definitely the focus in this 2-D challenge!
The basic premise:
Individually or in partners/small groups, students will design the “heaviest” heart possible.
– Using a criteria/constraints list, students create small hearts of various colors & sizes. Point values are assigned to each color group based on its size. Students arrange various configurations of their smaller hearts inside a large, outer heart in order to create the “heaviest” possible heart. (“Heaviest” is in quotation marks because we are not measuring weight; rather, we are assigning point values to inner hearts.)
This challenge can be run simply (focusing on shape creation & manipulation, measurement, addition, and symmetry), or you can add complexity (focusing on length/width ratios, multiplying & dividing decimals, percent contribution, etc.). Two criteria/constraints lists are provided to highlight either end of the spectrum along with editable versions.
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
- Outer “Heavy” Heart outline
- Two versions of the Criteria and Constraints list in color and black & white (+ editable versions provided)
- Measure & Record Data directions and recording sheet (editable)
- Design Analysis (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included; editable)
- Discussion Questions (editable)
- Process Flow Map
- Task card templates and samples (editable)
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.)
– Colored construction or printer paper (3 – 6 sheets)
• Recommended one sheet each of red, pink, and purple per partner/group
– Colored pencils or crayons
– Heart outline copies
– Design analysis handouts
• Folders, Ziploc bags, or large envelopes to contain cutouts if using on multiple days.
• Glue (if you want students to glue their final design in place)
• Calculators (for younger students and/or those with special needs)
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?
“I only had the chance to do the heavy hearts activity, but the kids loved it! They were so totally engrossed and working so well in cooperative groups that I could have left the room and they wouldn't have known! Thanks for putting this together!”
“High enjoyment levels - a great resource!”
“Terrific!! My students were challenged and loved this project!!”
“I loved how these looked in my room! =)”
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