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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
50 pages
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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
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  1. Planetopia Project STEM Challenges engage your students in brain-busting work disguised as fun! The basic premise: Students work in partners or groups against criteria & constraints lists to design and build various items for the fictional planet, Planetopia. Challenges include extension opport
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  3. If you’re looking to apply learning in weather, climate, natural disasters, natural resources & more, this STEM / STEAM challenge is a perfectly engaging way to get the job done joyfully!The basic premise:Students work individually or in partners/groups against a list of criteria and constraints
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If you’re looking to apply learning in weather, climate, natural disasters, natural resources & more, this STEM / STEAM challenge is a perfectly engaging way to get the job done joyfully!

The basic premise:
Students work individually or in partners/groups against a list of criteria and constraints to create a shelter to defend against 3+ types of weather and/or disasters.

This challenge was developed as part of the Planetopia Project, but it can be used as a stand-alone challenge as well.

Modifications included for grades 2-8.


Note: This version is for use with Google Slides in 1:1/paperless classrooms. If you prefer to print and have students complete work with paper/pencil, you'll want to look at the PRINTABLE VERSION 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”/PD videos
- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
- Links to STEM Challenge “How-to”/PD videos
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Post-design extension activities list
- Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Slides Post-design extension activities list

Student Slides
- Criteria & Constraints List (two editable versions provided)
- Planning pages
- Design Analysis
- Discussion Questions

Extension slides
- Evaporation Diagram
- The Water Cycle Diagram
- Shelter Ratings Activity
- Shelter Superlatives Template
- Weather Graph
- Weather Forecasting Activity Template
- Postcard Writing Template
- Process flow map
- Create & solve math problems based on designs


This resource is also available in the following discounted bundles:
Planetopia Project STEM Challenge Bundle - PAPERLESS VERSION
STEM Challenges: Year-Round Mega Bundle PAPERLESS VERSION
The Ultimate STEM Challenge Mega Bundle


Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.)

For Building:
– Cardboard scraps / paper plates / small cups
– Craft sticks / wooden coffee stirrers
– Pipe cleaners
– Masking or packing tape
– Cotton
– Sand Paper
– Plastic wrap, bags, or balloons
– Zip ties or string
– Scissors, hole punch and/or nails/screwdrivers

Optional Building Materials:
• Crayola Model Magic or clay
• Hot glue gun
• Foil
• Construction paper / tissue
• Coffee filters
• Pompoms
• Foil
• Paperclips
• Toothpicks

Measuring Results Materials:
– Plastic bin or foil tray (shoebox size works well)
– Water
– Tissue paper
– Thermometers
– Spray bottles
– Fan or hair dryer
– Cotton balls or batting
– Beads, rice, or marbles
– Molasses or mud
– Gravel, rocks, or sand


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 ~60-90 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.


You might also like these resources:
Cells: A Fresh Take on Organelle Functions
Create-ure STEM Challenge: PAPERLESS VERSION
Earth Day STEM Challenge: New Earth City
Analyze and Interpret Data Unit
STEM Challenge: Flower Frenzy 1:1 Paperless Version

Please check out the preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!

Total Pages
50 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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