Looking for a fun winter activity that incorporates science, technology, engineering, and/or math?
The basic premise:
In partners/small groups, students will design the “iciest” tree possible.
• Using a criteria/constraints list, students will build a tree with branches. They will also create triangular icicles to attach to the branches. Point values are assigned to each triangle based on various criteria (dependent on age group). Students attempt to create the iciest tree possible in the class’s Frosted Forest.
• This challenge can be run simply (focusing on shape creation & manipulation, measurement, and addition), or you can add complexity (focusing on triangle classification by sides and angles, layering icicles, assigning point value based on area, etc.). Two editable criteria/constraints lists are provided to highlight either end of the spectrum.
If it’s out of season, feel free to call it “Triangle Tree” instead! No need to wait until the winter!
*** CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO PREVIEW ***
Multiple iterations are recommended to get the most student benefit, but this can also be treated as a one-off activity.
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.
It’s possible you’ll need to plan for two class periods for this challenge. Watch the video walk though for more details. I also 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/group:
– White construction or copy paper (3-8 pages)
• 7 triangle templates are included, or students can create their own triangular icicles in a computer program or by hand.
– Pipe cleaners (5 - 8)
– Craft sticks (5 – 8)
– Straws (5 – 8)
– Small paper cups (4 – 6), cardboard tubes, and/or cardboard scraps
– Scissors (ideal for each student to have his/her own)
– Masking or clear tape (1 roll/group; don’t limit the tape)
– Rulers (ideal for each student to have his/her own)
– Design analysis & data recording handouts
• Protractors (if measuring angles; ideal for each student to have his/her own)
• Folders, Ziploc bags, or large envelopes to contain triangle cutouts if working on multiple days.
• Calculators (for younger students and/or those with special needs to calculate point values)
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
- Premise & Set-up
- Materials and timing
- Modifying Criteria & Constraints to adjust challenge difficulty
- Measuring results
- Post-design extension activities list & links
- A video walk-through of this challenge
- Two versions of Criteria & Constraints Lists (editable versions provided in color and black & white)
- Design Analysis Handouts (Two sets included: 2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students)
- Discussion Questions (color and black & white versions)
- Classifying Triangles Practice (Notes/directions are editable; answer key included)
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension
Note: If you’re familiar with my store, you know almost all challenges are also available in a 5-in-1 pack. That will eventually be true of this challenge, but it might not be until 2018. Once the 5-in-1 pack becomes available, you may choose to purchase it and receive a reimbursement if you’ve already purchased this individual challenge.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions using the Q&A tab above!
You may also like these products:
STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE
Sled & Slope
Valentine’s Day STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle
Analyze and Interpret Data Unit
Getting Started with STEM Challenges FREEBIE